WASHINGTON, D.C. — The White House is “looking into” embattled Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s housing situation amid reports that he rented a room in Washington, DC, from the family of an energy lobbyist, a person familiar with the matter told CNN.
The inquiry, which was described more as a review of the situation than a formal probe, is meant to determine if there were any ethics issues or wrongdoing. The White House has not yet made a conclusion on the matter.
The same person familiar said President Donald Trump has not indicated that he’s ready to fire Pruitt, who he believes has been massively successful in his regulatory rollbacks.
Responding to reports about Pruitt’s shaky footing with the President, EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in a statement, “From advocating to leave the Paris Accord, working to repeal Obama’s Clean Power Plan and WOTUS, and cleaning up toxic Superfund sites that have been languishing for decades, Administrator Pruitt is focused on advancing President Trump’s agenda of regulatory certainty and environmental stewardship.”
The White House did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
One source close to the White House said Pruitt’s job is in jeopardy.
“This stuff eats at the boss,” the source said.
A senior administration official told CNN it would be a surprise if Pruitt survives the latest revelations, but added that it’s ultimately up to Trump.
Pruitt is just the latest Trump administration Cabinet official to find himself at the center of controversy. Last week it was announced that former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin would leave his post, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson was recently the focus of a media firestorm after reports that his department had purchased a $31,000 dining set.
The Wall Street Journal first reported on the White House probe into Pruitt’s connections to the lobbyist and the housing situation.
Pruitt rented a room in a condo from Vicki and Steven Hart, lobbyists whose firm has lobbied the EPA on behalf of an Oklahoma Energy company, ABC News and Bloomberg reported. According to Bloomberg, Pruitt leased a room for around $50 a night, only paying when he stayed there. In total, Pruitt paid $6,100 for the room over six months, a rate significantly lower than market value.
CNN has confirmed that Pruitt’s landlords, the Harts, were among his political donors when he was an Oklahoma state official. According to campaign finance records, Steven Hart hosted a “fundraising reception” for Pruitt’s 2014 campaign for Oklahoma attorney general. The contribution report filed with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission states that Hart spent $1,616.43 on the expense.
In addition, Steven and Vicki Hart made a $500 contribution to Pruitt in October 2010, a $1,000 contribution in September 2011 and a $250 contribution in April 2012.