When he's not running casinos, Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson appears to be moonlighting as one of Scott Pruitt's travel agents.
Once Pruitt was confirmed as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, he made a list of at least a dozen countries he wanted to visit, then asked his aides to help him come up with official reasons to travel to them, four people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post. Once his team determined where he could go, Pruitt recruited conservative activists, lobbyists, and GOP donors like Adelson to help craft itineraries. Adelson assisted with the planning of a trip Pruitt was set to take to Israel in February, with scheduled stops at a Jewish settlement in the West Bank and Tel Aviv University, plus a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Post reports.
That trip was canceled only a few days before Pruitt was scheduled to leave, after the Post reported on his very expensive, taxpayer-funded travel habits. While in Israel, Pruitt was planning to announce an agreement with Water-Gen, a water purification company that Adelson doesn't have a financial stake in but does admire. Not long after he took office, Pruitt was urged by Adelson to meet with Water-Gen executives, and Pruitt then told aides to find a way to procure the company's technology, two administration officials told the Post. Adelson's political adviser Andy Abboud confirmed that Adelson helped plan Pruitt's trip, adding that he's approached by a lot of people who want to visit Israel.
Federal law prohibits public officials from using their office to boost their friends and family, and ethics experts say Pruitt's conduct raises all sorts of red flags. Earlier this week, the Post reported on the role Pruitt's longtime friend Richard Smotkin played in making Pruitt's trip to Morocco last year happen. For more on the outsiders helping Pruitt plan his international travel, visit The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia