- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 1, 2018

Amid a growing firestorm over his $50-per-night condo rental deal with a Washington lobbyist, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is doomed and could be forced to resign, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Sunday.

In an interview with ABC’s “This Week” program, Mr. Christie said there seem to be deep issues with Mr. Pruitt’s judgment.

“I don’t know how you survive this one, and if he has to go, it’s because he never should’ve been there in the first place,” Mr. Christie said. “This was a brutally unprofessional transition [at the EPA]. This was a transition that didn’t vet people for this type of judgment issues … If Mr. Pruitt’s going to go, it’s because he never should’ve been there in the first place.”

Mr. Pruitt reportedly rented a Capitol Hill condo for $50 per night from Vicki Hart, a lobbyist whose husband, J. Steven Hart, is chairman of the firm Willians and Jensen, which represents Exxon-Mobil and other companies in the oil-and-gas sector. Critics charge that Mr. Pruitt’s cheap living arrangements certainly look on the surface like a conflict of interest at best, or at worst, a sweetheart deal in exchange for pro-oil regulatory reforms at the EPA.

“He’s in real trouble … the perception is not good at all,” Sen. Doug Jones, Alabama Democrat, said of Mr. Pruitt during an interview with ABC News.

The EPA late last week defended the deal and released a review from the agency’s ethics office that found the lease was “consistent with federal ethics regulations regarding gifts.

“As EPA career ethics officials stated in a memo, Administrator Pruitt’s housing arrangement for both himself and family was not a gift and the lease was consistent with federal ethics regulations,” EPA spokesperson Jahan Wilcox said in a statement.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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