EnvironmentHot Sheet

DeGette questions EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s ethics and honesty

Author: Joey Bunch - May 3, 2018 - Updated: May 3, 2018

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abortionU.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, speaks at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. (Via Youtube)

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver is one of four top congressional Democrats who signed a letter calling on EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt to account for his ties to a lobbyist and his truthfulness about his ethics.

“Despite your earlier claims that J. Steven Hart had no clients with business before EPA, it is now clear that Mr. Hart did represent clients with business before your agency and, in fact, lobbied you on their behalf,” states the letter signed by DeGette, ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

The letter was also signed by Energy and Commerce ranking member Frank Pallone of New Jersey, Environment Subcommittee ranking member Paul Tonko of New York and Rep. Kathy Castor of Florida, the vice ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee .

Pruitt, the former climate change-doubting attorney general of Oklahoma is being investigated for renting a room in a Washington, D.C,, home owned by the wife of lobbyist. He denied a relationship with the lobbyist, but subsequent reporting has cast that in doubt.

“Despite your earlier claims that J. Steven Hart had no clients with business before EPA, it is now clear that Mr. Hart did represent clients with business before your agency and, in fact, lobbied you on their behalf,” DeGette and the committee Democrats wrote.

“One particularly problematic document, attached to this letter, shows that the same Smithfield executive who accompanied J. Steven Hart to a meeting with you apparently nominated three individuals to fill spots on the EPA’s Science Advisory Board,” the legislators continued. “This document also indicates that J. Steven Hart lobbied the EPA in favor of those nominations. The document is heavily redacted, including the names of the three individuals, but the effort to place those individuals on the SAB is clear.”

The letter also addresses Democrats’ concerns that the EPA favors industry representatives over academic scientists on the EPA’s advisory board.

“Since last year, we have been deeply concerned about your efforts to remove academic scientists from the SAB in favor of industry representatives. You unjustly removed or failed to renew 21 scientists who received EPA grants, later saying that the move was motivated by ‘an appearance of a lack of independence.’ Although you pledged to provide the Committee with examples of scientists with such an appearance of a lack of independence, you never did,” the letter states.

Read the full letter by clicking here.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.