Pruitt Haggled With Two Major Legal Complaints, Not One, Before Joining Trump’s EPA

Chris White | Energy Reporter

Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt was subject to two bar complaints in Oklahoma for having sued the agency before being nominated to lead it, according to documents E&E News published Thursday.

Pruitt retained a legal defense fund to help pay expenses from a bar complaint alleging he violated the professional code because he had “previously filed suit against the agency,” Cleta Mitchell, a partner at Foley & Lardner LLP, wrote in a November 2017 email to the Office of Government Ethics.

The complaint is in addition to one related to Pruitt’s email use when he was Oklahoma’s attorney general.

Mitchell, who was retained as the trustee of Pruitt’s legal defense fund, did not offer any more details on the bar complaint she described, other than to say it has since been dismissed. The former EPA head set up the fund several months before he resigned in July following reports alleging ethical violations.

“I will respond only to your question regarding the bar complaint(s). The bar complaint(s) were investigated together and are essentially the same. Not different. And they were both dismissed a couple of months ago and the matter(s) are now closed,” Mitchell told E&E News.

She added: “As I said, the bar complaint(s) were essentially the same, indistinguishable, were merged and all have been reviewed and dismissed. There are no further matters pending before the [Oklahoma] Bar Association involving Mr. Pruitt.”

Pruitt used two addresses — scott.pruitt@oag.ok.gov and esp@oag.ok.gov — during his time as AG, according to emails obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), a liberal watchdog group associated with billionaire financier George Soros.

CMD’s records appear to show Pruitt’s name associated with both accounts, the latter of which is the EPA head’s initials, E.S.P., or Edward Scott Pruitt. The 7,564 pages of emails recovered came shortly after a bitter battle in Congress over whether Pruitt should lead the EPA. He eventually won confirmation 52-46 in February despite fierce Democratic opposition.

Pruitt, who sued the agency more than a dozen times before joining the Trump administration, resigned after facing far-ranging questions about his alleged ethical shortcomings. Democrats harangued him for allegedly paying $6,100 for a room in a condo owned by Vicki Hart, who is married to J. Steven Hart, an energy lobbyist who represents clients in industries regulated by the EPA. Payments to Hart came only on dates when the EPA administrator stayed in the room.

Democrats also teed off on his flight expenses. Reports in February showed taxpayers funded at least $90,000 for Pruitt and his top aides to fly in June, which included first-class seats and a ride on a military jet. The flight upgrades were required due to an uptick in security threats Pruitt faced during his first year in office, the EPA maintains. (RELATED: A Senior EPA Official Explains Why Pruitt’s Testimony Probably Saved His Job)

Neither the White House nor the EPA have responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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