Lobbyist played key role in setting up Pruitt’s planned trips

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt’s scheduled trip to Australia last summer was organized in part by a former lobbyist with business ties to the country.

Matthew Freedman, the chief executive of consulting firm Global Impact Inc., actively worked with EPA employees and another lobbyist, Richard Smotkin, to organize a trip Pruitt was planning to take last year to Australia, according to records reported on Wednesday.

The internal EPA records show that Freedman communicated directly last June with one of Pruitt’s top political aides, Millan Hupp. The back and forth showed that Freedman recommended a number of meetings Pruitt could take while in Australia and that he was in communication with top government officials there for Pruitt’s trip.

The trip ultimately was cancelled due to Hurricane Harvey, but the internal communications show that Administrator Scott Pruitt had no qualms working with lobbyists to organize his overseas expeditions. 

Notice a theme?: 

Freedman is the third consultant or lobbyist to have worked directly with EPA to plan an international trip for Pruitt. In December, Smotkin helped organize and also attended a trip Pruitt took to Morocco. Four months after the trip, Smotkin signed a $40,000-a-month contract to represent an arm of the Moroccan government. Leonard Leo, a friend of Pruitt’s and the executive vice president of the Federalist Society–conservative judicial group–attended and helped organize Pruitt’s trip to Italy and the Vatican last summer.

Read more about the Italy and Australia trips.

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