September 13, 2018 - Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt may soon have a new job working as a consultant to the coal industry, according to a report Wednesday in The New York Times.
Pruitt has reportedly been speaking with billionaire Kentucky coal baron Joseph Craft, the head of Alliance Resource Partners and a major donor to the Republican party. It’s unclear what kind of consulting work the former administrator would do for Alliance, but he has enjoyed a close relationship with Craft and the pair met at least seven times during Pruitt’s tenure at the EPA, according to the Times.
A public affairs representative told the outlet that any conversations between Pruitt and Craft were “preliminary” and that the former official would not be an official employee of Alliance.
“Obviously, any discussions would not involve lobbying the federal government,” the representative, Heath Lovell, said, alluding to an ethics pledge President Donald Trump imposed on White House appointees that prohibit them from lobbying the agencies they worked for five years.
Pruitt resigned in July amid a slew of scandals and more than a dozen federal investigations into his behavior at the EPA’s helm. Several of those ethical quagmires centered around his cozy relationship with fossil fuel interests he was meant to regulate, including a sweetheart condo rental linked to a gas industry lobbying firm.
While atop the agency, Pruitt regularly moved to dismantle many of the EPA’s restrictions on coal production, including Obama-era rules on the disposal of coal ash. He also regularly met with coal executives, used government helicopters to visit coal mines and proudly declared that the “regulatory assault” on the industry was over.
The Times, citing two coal industry executives familiar with his plans, also reported that Pruitt discussed his ideas for a new consulting firm during an appearance at a meeting of the Kentucky Coal Association last week. The group only told the outlet that Pruitt had been invited after the Times found photographs of the man sitting with the Kentucky governor at the event.
The EPA on Wednesday released financial disclosures related to Pruitt’s tenure at the agency for the 2017 calendar year. The documents included details that Pruitt spent up to $300,000 in personal legal bills during that time period.
He did not list any gifts as part of the disclosure, according to Politico, even though some Democrats had lambasted his regular acceptance of sports tickets and meals as such.
One such gift included courtside seats at a University of Kentucky basketball game in December 2017 for Pruitt and his son. They were owned by Craft, the coal executive Pruitt may soon work for.