US House panel investigating Pruitt's condo rental

WASHINGTON, April 7 (Reuters) - A U.S. congressional panel is investigating Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt's use of a condominium tied to an energy lobbyist, a House Republican aide said on Saturday.

The House of Representatives Oversight Committee, chaired by Republican Representative Trey Gowdy, has begun looking into Pruitt's housing arrangements, according to the aide, who was not authorized to speak publicly.

The EPA had no immediate comment.

The panel's probe adds to the pressure on Pruitt, a vocal critic of mainstream climate change science who sued the EPA more than a dozen times when he was Oklahoma's attorney general. Many Democrats and even a few Republicans have said should resign or be fired.

RELATED: Director of Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt

10 PHOTOS
Director of Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt
See Gallery
Director of Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt

Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), speaks to employees of the Agency in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2017.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), greets employees of the agency in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2017.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Director of Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt is sworn in by Justice Samuel Alito as his wife Marilyn holds a bible during ceremony at the Executive Office in Washington, U.S., February 17, 2017.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), greets employees of the agency in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2017.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's pick as head of the Environmental Protectional Agency, meets with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2017.

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt testifies before a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, U.S., January 18, 2017.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R), U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), meets with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) (L) in her office on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 4, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's pick as head of the Environmental Protectional Agency, meets with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2017.

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Oklahoma Farm Bureau Vice President of Public Policy John R.H. Collison (L) meets with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) to discuss state water issues at the attorney generals office in Oklahoma City, July 29, 2014.

(REUTERS/Nick Oxford)

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt in a meeting at his office in Oklahoma City, July 29, 2014. 

(REUTERS/Nick Oxford)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Lawmakers have been scrutinizing Pruitt for renting a room in a high-end townhouse co-owned by the wife of energy industry lobbyist Steven Hart for $50 a night, an arrangement that has drawn fire from ethics experts. Media reports say the payment is less than one-third the price of similar properties.

Hart lobbies for companies regulated by the EPA.

Pruitt is also under fire for frequent first-class air travel and for purchasing costly items for his office, including a soundproof telephone booth.

"I don't have a lot of patience with that kind of stuff," Gowdy said of Pruitt in a video released by the environmental group Friends of the Earth. "You've just got to be a good steward of public services."

As part of the committee's investigation, the EPA has produced documents, including a memo from the EPA ethics office that initially cleared Pruitt of accepting a gift from a lobbyist but did not address whether he broke other federal ethics regulations.

An administration official said Pruitt met with President Donald Trump on Friday morning, a week after White House Chief of Staff John Kelly advocated for Trump to fire him. Trump told reporters on Thursday that he would take a look into ethics allegations against Pruitt but added the official was doing a "fantastic job."

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Sandra Maler)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.