Pruitt Did In Fact Meet With Former Landlord’s Lobbyist Husband

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt looks back after speaking to the media during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, June 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
FILE - In this June 2, 2017 file photo, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt looks back after speaking to the media during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. Top-ranking C... FILE - In this June 2, 2017 file photo, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt looks back after speaking to the media during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. Top-ranking Congressional Democrats are calling on a federal watchdog to review whether Pruitt broke the law by making a video for a private group opposing an Obama-era clean-water rule. Pruitt flew to Colorado for an August event organized by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, an industry trade association representing cattle producers. While at the ranch, Pruitt recorded a video urging the group’s members to file comments supporting the repeal of EPA’s Waters of the United States rule. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) MORE LESS
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April 22, 2018 11:31 a.m.
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EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt did in fact meet with one half of the lobbyist power couple who leased him Washington, D.C. townhouse for $50 per night last year.

The lobbyist, Steven Hart, announced Friday that he would retire as chairman of Williams & Jensen, the well-known lobbying firm, as a result of the townhouse scandal.

Later on Friday, the Hill first reported, the firm filed a disclosure that Hart was a lobbyist for Smithfield Foods, the pork processing giant, earlier this year. The Daily Beast had previously reported on Hart’s firm’s clients with business before the EPA. The firm’s disclosure contradicts Hart and Pruitt’s prior claims that Hart hadn’t lobbied the EPA during Pruitt’s time as administrator.

Then, the New York Times and Politico reported that Hart had personally met with Pruitt and a former executive at Smithfield Foods in 2017. The former executive now serves on the board of Smithfield’s philanthropic organization.

An EPA official acknowledged to Politico that Pruitt had personally met with Hart and the former Smithfield executive, but the official “argued that the meeting didn’t meet the definition of lobbying,” the publication said. The Times reported that Smithfield Foods and Hart disputed that the meeting constituted lobbying, as well.

“I assisted a friend who serves on the Chesapeake Bay Commission, and this is inaccurately being tied to Smithfield Foods,” Hart said in a statement quoted by multiple outlets. “I was not paid for this assistance and any suggestion that I lobbied for Smithfield Foods is inaccurate.”

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