House Democratic investigators are zeroing in once again on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s attendance at the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day where the Oklahoma Sooners football team played for the college football playoff national championship.
The source of the tickets was Oklahoma businessman Renzi Stone, the head of an Oklahoma public relations firm that represents oil and gas companies.
In a letter to Stone, the House Oversight Committee’s top Democrat Elijah Cummings points out Stone’s company, Saxum, has at least one client, Plains All American Pipeline that “has a petition before the EPA.”
In the letter, Democratic House investigators ask Stone how the Rose Bowl tickets were requested, by whom and when. Investigators also want to know how many tickets Pruitt obtained, the location of the seats and whether Pruitt or anyone else paid for the tickets.
In May, House Oversight committee staff interviewed Pruitt’s former Director of Scheduling and Advance, Millan Hupp.
Cummings says it was Hupp who told committee staff that the energy public relations executive provided Pruitt with the Rose Bowl tickets for him and his family.
On Twitter, Stone wrote, “Each year mid-Dec people call for OU bowl tickets. Scott Pruitt, my friend since 2001, asked through an aide if he could buy Rose Bowl tix. I made connection to OU ticket office. He bought them. That’s it.”
Stone says he plans to respond to Cummings’ inquiry.
Cummings says “federal ethics rules prohibit government employees from accepting gifts such as tickets to sporting events, unless they pay market value.”
EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in an emailed statement, “it seems Representative Cummings is misconstruing the facts. Renzi Stone, a friend of Administrator Pruitt and regent to the University of Oklahoma, simply connected Pruitt to the athletic department. Pruitt purchased the tickets at face value from the OU athletic department. To report otherwise, is false.”
Both Stone and Pruitt describe each other as longtime friends. Campaign financial disclosures show Stone is also a political donor of Pruitt. Stone has made financial contributions to Liberty 2.0 a Super PAC that supported Pruitt during his time in Oklahoma politics.