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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Interest Group Notes, Continued

The Washington swamp is bigger than ever.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt rented a bedroom in a Capitol Hill condo from the wife of a Washington lobbyist for $50 a day from mid-February through the end of July in 2017, CBS News has confirmed. Pruitt's daughter also lived in the condo while she was interning at the White House.

Pruitt's rent equates to about $1,500 a month, but the terms of the deal were favorable. The deal required Pruitt only to pay the nightly rate when he stayed there, and he was not charged for nights when he slept elsewhere. Pruitt traveled regularly, often returning to Oklahoma on the weekends. Documents released by the agency confirm that ethics officials at EPA signed off on the arrangement. Over the course of the five-and-a-half months, Pruitt paid $6100 in rent, about $2150 less than someone paying his rate every night.

Pruitt's landlord was Vicki Hart, the wife of Steven Hart, a Washington lobbyist whose firm represents a number of fossil fuel companies.
Juliet Eilperin at WP:
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has appointed 15 representatives of the outdoor recreation industry to advise him on how to operate public lands, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post, including three people whom department officials flagged as potentially having a conflict of interest on the matter.

The membership of the “Made in America” Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee, which Zinke launchedin November, marks the third time the secretary has assembled panels dominated by industry players to help chart policies affecting their businesses.

Many of the members of the Royalty Policy Committee hail from the oil, gas and mining industries; the new International Wildlife Conservation Council is largely composed of people with ties to trophy hunting.
President Donald Trump and his appointees have stocked federal agencies with ex-lobbyists and corporate lawyers who now help regulate the very industries from which they previously collected paychecks, despite promising as a candidate to drain the swamp in Washington.

A week after his January 2017 inauguration, Mr. Trump signed an executive order that bars former lobbyists, lawyers and others from participating in any matter they lobbied or otherwise worked on for private clients within two years before going to work for the government.

But records reviewed by The Associated Press show Mr. Trump's top lawyer, White House counsel Don McGahn, has issued at least 24 ethics waivers to key administration officials at the White House and executive branch agencies.

Though the waivers were typically signed by McGahn months ago, the Office of Government Ethics disclosed several more on Wednesday.