EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Loses A Top Aide Amid Multiple Ethics Investigations

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Albert Kelly, a top aide to Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, has resigned amid ongoing ethics probes, the Washington Post reported today.

Kelly spent most of his career as a banker in Oklahoma. His career in the banking industry is, however, not free from controversy. The Intercept published an extensive report about Mr. Kelly back in December 2017.

The Intercept obtained a consent order (through the Freedom of Information Act) showing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation had fired Kelly because they had “reason to believe that [Kelly] violated a law or regulation, by entering into an agreement pertaining to a loan by the Bank without FDIC approval.” This resulted in a lifetime ban from banking and a fine of $125,000.

What’s more, at the time a Republican senator, current EPA Chief Scott Pruitt took loans from Spirit Bank — a bank that Kelly’s family had run since the 1930s. According to The Intercept, in 2003, Spirit Bank loaned Pruitt money to help buy a share of the Oklahoma City RedHawks, a minor league baseball team.

In 2004, Pruitt purchased a ranch house in the Lakes at Indian Springs community in Broken Arrow, an upscale gated community, for $605,000.

Pruitt earned only $38,400 as an Oklahoma state senator. Combined with the profit he had earned from selling his previous home ($35,000), the amount was not enough to cover Pruitt’s real estate investment, considering his wife, Marlyn Pruitt, had reported no income or assets.

Senator Pruitt had no choice but to seek a loan, so he turned to Spirit Bank. The bank gave Pruitt and his wife three mortgage loans: one for $81,000, another for $359,000, and a third for $533,000. Also, Kelly has contributed to Pruitt’s campaigns on at least three occasions, The Intercept noted.

Years later, despite having no previous experience with environmental issues and shortly after being fined by the FDIC, Albert Kelly was appointed as head of the Superfund task force – an EPA task force Scott Pruitt had created. The appointment was announced on the Environmental Protection Agency’s official website.

Kelly gave no reason for his departure, the Washington Post noted, but two individuals briefed on the decision, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Kelly was “tired of coming under criticism for the FDIC ban and didn’t need the job.”

Pruitt did not come out in strong defense of Kelly during his testimony before the House Energy and Commerce environment subcommittee last week, a source told the Washington Post.

“Kelly’s service at [the] EPA will be sorely missed,” Pruitt said in a statement.