EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s December trip to Morocco, replete with luxury hotel stays and seemingly devoid of much department-related work, was planned and executed by a lobbyist who later won a lucrative contract with the Moroccan government, according to a Tuesday Washington Post report.
Richard Smotkin, a former Comcast lobbyist and longtime Pruitt friend, was reportedly unusually involved in the planning of the $100,000 four-day trip, raising eyebrows about the ethical connotations of Smotkin profiting off of his friendship with Pruitt in the administrator’s governmental capacity. He later accompanied Pruitt on most of the stops on the trip.
Per the Washington Post, Pruitt and his team maintain that the trip was planned to arrange a trade relationship with Morocco, and that the administrator was unaware of Smotkin’s deep ties to the Moroccan government at the time.
Correction: This post originally reported that the trip cost $10,000.