A liberal watchdog group released thousands of emails Wednesday showing President Donald Trump’s EPA chief shared communications with energy groups during his time as Oklahoma’s attorney general.
The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), a liberal watchdog group with financial ties to billionaire George Soros, released emails showing Scott Pruitt’s office communicated on several occasions with fossil fuel companies like Devon Energy earlier in February. CMD sued to have the emails released after it claimed the Oklahoma Republican stonewalled information requests for two years.
“The newly released emails reveal a close and friendly relationship between Scott Pruitt’s office and the fossil fuel industry,” Nick Surgey, a director at CMD, wrote in a statement Wednesday.
Emails dating back to 2013 show that various groups reached out to thank Pruitt’s office for engaging in legal fisticuffs with former President Barack Obama’s environmental agenda.
Matt Ball, an executive at Americans for Prosperity, for instance, sent the former attorney general an email thanking him and his “respective bosses and all they are doing to push back against President Obama’s EPA and its axis with liberal environmental groups to increase energy costs for Oklahomans and American families across the states.”
Other emails indicate Pruitt has kept lines of communication open between his office and energy companies like Devon Energy.
Devon’s director of public policy, Brent Rockwood, wrote in 2013 e-mail to Oklahoma AG’s office that the company’s legal team had taken “another review” of a letter Pruitt wrote about Bureau of Land Management regulations and suggested including footnotes to source the quotes and legal arguments.
“Thanks for putting the AG letter into action, and I think that this letter will make a strong statement and a real difference,” Devon’s Rockwood said in the e-mail to Pruitt’s office. “Do you think that we will get any Democrats to sign the letter? Also, when you finalize the document and send it out, can I please get a copy for my records?”
The 7,564 pages of emails follow a knock-down battle in Congress over whether Pruitt should lead Trump’s EPA. He eventually won confirmation, 52-46, last week despite fierce Democratic opposition.
Two Democrats – Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia – bucked their party and voted in favor of Pruitt to head the agency. Their support came even after their colleagues continued to call the Oklahoma AG a “climate denier” who will do the bidding of “Big Oil.
CMD, for its part, counts the Rockefeller Family Foundation and Soros’s Open Society Foundations among its donors. It has also received more than $160,000 in 2011 for research purposes from progressive financier, Tides Foundation.
The fund also acknowledged on its website accepting donations from the Rockefeller Family Foundation (RFF), which has worked for months backing attorney general-led efforts to investigate Exxon Mobil’s climate research.
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