By Glenn Fleishman
September 12, 2018

Former head of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt is in discussions to consult for Joseph W. Craft III, an Oklahoma coal baron, according to the New York Times. Craft is president and CEO of Alliance Resource Partners, based in Tulsa, and met Pruitt seven times during his tenure at the EPA.

The White House reportedly forced Pruitt to resign in July, following a barrage of investigations and complaints related to alleged ethics and legal violations, as well as his pattern of spending of government money. Several investigations remain ongoing.

Also today, the EPA made Pruitt’s 2017 financial disclosure report public, after long delays. The report indicates Pruitt owed as much as $300,000 to legal firms for 2017 to represent him in investigations. The disclosure avoids characterizing as a gift a below-market rental rate on a condo owned by Washington lobbyists, one of whom had matters in front of the EPA. This report should have been filed months ago. The 2018 disclosure is due Nov. 5, and would be released publicly within 30 days.

Craft gave Pruitt courtside tickets to a University of Kentucky basketball game in December 2017, which he attended with his son—and his security detail. Craft donated $2 million to Trump’s campaign and to the inauguration committee. He also contributed heavily to Pruitt’s Oklahoma-based political campaigns.

The Times spoke to two coal industry sources who described Pruitt’s discussions to set up a consulting firm that would provide advice to executives on interacting with the EPA. As a former appointed member of the Trump administration, Pruitt is bound by a signed ethics agreement that prohibits direct lobbying of any agency in which someone served. Consulting in this manner, or lobbying at a state level, wouldn’t violate the pledge.

Oklahoma legislators overrode a state ethics commission in May 2018, rejecting rules that would bar lobbying by legislators and state agency heads for two years after leaving office.

Pruitt has long supported reducing regulatory oversight of the energy industry, especially coal mining and coal-fired power plants, policies he supported in the state legislature, as Oklahoma’s attorney general, and as EPA chief.

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