CLOSINGS: View Closings

NYT: Pruitt purchased home from lobbyist in 2003, using a shell company

EPA chief Scott Pruitt purchased a house in 2003 from a retiring lobbyist through a shell company registered to a bus...

Posted: Apr 22, 2018 2:13 PM
Updated: Apr 22, 2018 2:13 PM

EPA chief Scott Pruitt purchased a house in 2003 from a retiring lobbyist through a shell company registered to a business partner who now holds top political job at the agency The New York Times reported Saturday.

As a state senator in 2003, Pruitt became an owner of an Oklahoma City house held by a shell company registered under the name of a business partner and law school friend, Kenneth Wagner, the Times reported, citing a review of real estate and other public records. Wagner is now a senior adviser for regional and state affairs at the EPA.

The mortgage on the house was issued by a local bank led by another business associate, Albert Kelly, the Times said, citing the records. Kelly is now also one of Pruitt's top aides at the EPA, in charge of its Superfund program.

The purchase price of $375,000 was $100,000 less than what the lobbyist, Marsha Lindsey, had paid just a year earlier -- a difference picked up by her employer, telecom company SBC Oklahoma, the Times reported.

Lindsey turned over the deed to a relocation company SBC hired to handle her move and severance for about what she had paid for the house, which in turn signed the property over to health care executive Jon Jiles, a donor to Pruitt's campaigns, at the discounted price, according to records the Times reviewed. The next month, Jiles transferred the deed to the shell company, Capitol House LLC, for which he was listed as the manager and Wagner the registered agent. A month later, Kelly's bank approved a mortgage in the amount of $420,000 in the name of the shell company.

Real estate records did not show Pruitt's involvement, the Times reported. But an EPA spokeswoman confirmed to the newspaper that Pruitt was one of the five investors in the shell company.

The shell company sold the property a couple of years later for $95,000 more than it paid, the Times reported. Pruitt's financial disclosures in Oklahoma, however, did not mention the shell company or the proceeds, potentially violating the state's ethics rules, the newspaper said. Oklahoma ethics rules require that officials disclose their businesses or entities in which they hold securities valued at $5,000 or more, the Times reported.

The report comes as Pruitt faces scrutiny for a string of ethically questionable arrangements or actions on his part that have surfaced over the past year, including questions about the size and cost of his 24-hour security detail; a $50-a-night room rental agreement he held with a lobbyist whose husband's firm lobbies the EPA.

An EPA spokeswoman told the Times that Pruitt's business arrangements with Kelly and Wagner "were ethical" and his stake in the shell company "a simple real estate investment."

"Mr. Wagner and Mr. Kelly left high-profile positions in law and banking in Oklahoma, to serve in the administration," the spokeswoman said in an email to the Times. "They are dedicated E.P.A. employees who have earned the respect and admiration of E.P.A. career employees across the country."

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2738968

Reported Deaths: 57593
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings35054010976
Queens32740410420
Suffolk2563293692
Nassau2267643335
Bronx2135936810
New York1771674667
Westchester1484542356
Erie1256852060
Monroe982241256
Richmond929811973
Orange62410944
Onondaga59728818
Rockland55617783
Dutchess38083510
Albany34583414
Oneida33390646
Niagara28947419
Broome28368435
Saratoga24878227
Schenectady19437245
Ulster19155292
Rensselaer17502193
Chautauqua15116197
Oswego14282135
Putnam13194101
St. Lawrence12945143
Chemung12916175
Steuben12556191
Ontario11776119
Jefferson11484106
Wayne10346103
Cattaraugus10082159
Cayuga9787113
Sullivan966390
Genesee8711144
Herkimer8394143
Clinton814648
Fulton7890115
Tompkins743161
Madison7412109
Warren737496
Livingston726377
Montgomery7246162
Washington675580
Tioga641373
Cortland611389
Allegany6028122
Columbia5753113
Chenango558796
Orleans556896
Franklin545126
Otsego541163
Wyoming535667
Greene496289
Delaware444352
Lewis424040
Seneca329368
Essex300538
Schoharie272324
Yates200434
Schuyler195420
Hamilton5163
Unassigned1402
Out of NY0340
Utica
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 35°
Oneonta
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 35°
Herkimer
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 35°
Old Forge
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 35°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
2022 WKTV Golf Card only $99.99
Game Day Deals - New Deals Each Week
Stuff the Bus Locations
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve