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Ousted EPA head Pruitt denies getting improper gifts, income

In this June 21, 2018 photo, then-Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
In this June 21, 2018 photo, then-Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
By Ellen Knickmeyer Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Scott Pruitt, the scandal-ridden former Environmental Protection Agency chief, denied on Wednesday that he had obtained any out-of-the-ordinary gifts as a result of his Cabinet-level post, dismissing allegations he received perks in office ranging from much-sought sport tickets to a job for his wife.

The denial was in Pruitt’s official 2017 financial disclosure, which the government requires senior government officials to file to report gifts and sources of income. The EPA released the report Wednesday.

Pruitt’s disclosure is notable for what it doesn’t list, making no specific mention of any of a range of perks and favors that EPA documents and agency staffers described Pruitt receiving while serving as the regulation-cutting chief of the Trump administration’s environmental agency.

Those perks allegedly included a $50 a night deal with a lobbyist’s family on a Washington condo and using EPA staffers to find an apartment and affordable used mattress for Pruitt, and Rose Bowl tickets he received at face value.

Other alleged gifts detailed during Pruitt’s tenure included at least one-short term gig that The Washington Post said Pruitt helped land for his wife, Marlyn, for an event where the EPA chief was a featured guest.

Pruitt addressed the allegations against him in office only broadly in his 13-page report.

“To the extent that I am aware of specific allegations, I dispute the facts asserted and, accordingly, am not aware of reportable gifts,” Pruitt said.

He continued in the carefully phrased language he used in congressional hearings on the ethics allegations against him. “In the event that there are any future findings to the contrary, I will address the issue at that time and amend this report as directed and/or as necessary,” he wrote in the report.

Virginia Canter, chief ethics officer for the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington nonprofit, said there were “significant omissions” in Pruitt’s filing.

Unless it turns out that Pruitt has made reimbursement for any gifts, his financial disclosure “goes to show me that basically Pruitt is taking a hard line and hasn’t really been enlightened as a result of his service in Washington,” Canter said.

While in office, Pruitt repeatedly denied any responsibility for any wrongdoing, shifting any blame to staffers for his lavish, taxpayer-funded spending on premium-class travel, around-the-clock security and other benefits.

President Donald Trump announced Pruitt’s resignation in a tweet on July 5 amid near-daily headlines about new allegations and federal investigations involving the then-EPA chief.

Pruitt’s said in his report that his wife’s business made between $15,000 and $50,000 in 2017. He did not list her clients, but he wrote that none of Marlyn Pruitt’s work was for organizations or people he would have regulated as EPA head.

Pruitt, a former Oklahoma attorney general, also reported between $150,000 and $300,000 in debts in 2017 to two Oklahoma law firms.

Cleta Mitchell, a Washington lawyer and friend of Pruitt who at times has acted as a spokeswoman regarding Pruitt’s troubles, did not immediately return an email seeking comment Wednesday.

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