Saturday, April 21, 2018
Early in Scott Pruitt's political career, as a state senator from Tulsa, he attended a gathering at the Oklahoma City home of an influential telecommunications lobbyist who was nearing retirement and about to move away. The lobbyist said that after the 2003 gathering, Mr. Pruitt -- who had a modest legal practice and a state salary of $38,400 -- reached out to her. He wanted to buy her showplace home as a second residence for when he was in the state capital.
"For those ego-minded politicians, it would be pretty cool to have this house close to the capitol," said the lobbyist, Marsha Lindsey. "It was stunning."
Soon Mr. Pruitt was staying there, and so was at least one other lawmaker, according to interviews. Mr. Pruitt even bought Ms. Lindsey's dining room set, art and antique rugs, she said.
A review of real estate and other public records shows that Mr. Pruitt was not the sole owner: The property was held by a shell company registered to a business partner and law school friend, Kenneth Wagner. Mr. Wagner now holds a top political job at the Environmental Protection Agency, where Mr. Pruitt, 49, is the administrator.
The mortgage on the Oklahoma City home, the records show, was issued by a local bank that was led by another business associate of Mr. Pruitt's, Albert Kelly. Recently barred from working in the finance industry because of a banking violation, Mr. Kelly is now one of Mr. Pruitt's top aides at the E.P.A. and runs the agency's Superfund program.
At the E.P.A., Mr. Pruitt is under investigation for allegations of unchecked spending, ethics lapses and other issues, including his interactions with lobbyists. An examination of Mr. Pruitt's political career in Oklahoma reveals that many of the pitfalls he has encountered in Washington have echoes in his past.
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