May 1, 2018

Report: Lobbyist helped arrange Pruitt's $100k Morocco trip

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. Photo: Jason Andrew/Getty Images

The Washington Post is reporting that a former Comcast lobbyist partially helped set up meetings between Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt and the Moroccan government last December, a trip that cost $100,000 — more than the $40,000 the agency had initially claimed.

Why it matters, per Axios' Amy Harder: This controversy goes further in casting doubt on Pruitt's job — which is already on thin ice — than others involving questionable accommodations and excessive spending. That's because it appears from the Post story that a representative of a foreign government has had extensive influence over not just the Morocco trip but other times during Pruitt's time at EPA so far.

The details: EPA officials confirmed to the Post that lobbyist Richard Smotkin arranged Pruitt’s initial meeting with Morocco’s ambassador in D.C., which led to an invitation from the ambassador for Pruitt to visit her country.

  • The report said Smotkin, who signed a $40,000-a-month contract with the Embassy of Morocco to promote the country’s economic interests, went with Pruitt to meetings.However, the EPA told the Post, "Smotkin did not attend or participate in any official meetings with the Moroccan government."

Yes, but: While ethically questionable, the report does not state that the relationship has broken any laws.

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