Skip to Main Content
 

Bryson Morgan Comments on EPA Chiefs' Rental Arrangement Constituting An Improper Gift

March 29, 2018, ABC News

For much of his first year in Washington, President Trump’s EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt occupied prime real estate in a townhouse near the U.S. Capitol that is co-owned by the wife of a top energy lobbyist, property records from 2017 show.

Neither the EPA nor the lobbyist, J. Steven Hart, would say how much Pruitt paid to live at the prime Capitol Hill address, though Hart said he believed it to be the market rate. The price tag on Pruitt’s rental arrangement is one key question when determining if it constitutes an improper gift, ethics experts told ABC News.

. . .

“I think it certainly creates a perception problem, especially if Mr. Hart is seeking to influence the agency,” said Bryson Morgan, the former investigative counsel at the U.S. House of Representatives Office of Congressional Ethics. “That’s why there is a gift rule.”

. . .

Morgan, an ethics expert in private practice in Washington, D.C., said the lobbying connection only further muddies the living arrangement. He said the rental agreement could create ethics problems for Pruitt even if he did reimburse his landlord for rent.

“What are the terms of the rental agreement?” Morgan asked. “It’s not just a question if he is paying market rent. Was he given the ability to end it immediately? Would someone come after him if he were not to pay rent?”

Morgan said the most recent guidance from the Office of Government Ethics “emphasized that executive branch officials should decline even a permissible gift if it could cause the public to question their integrity or impartiality.”

Mr. Morgan is an attorney in Caplin & Drysdale’s Political Law Group in Washington, D.C.

For the full article, please visit ABC News’ website.

Excerpt taken from the article “More Cabinet trouble for Trump? EPA Chief Lived in Condo Tied to Lobbyist 'Power Couple'” by John Santucci, Matthew Mosk, and Stephanie Ebbs for ABC News.

________________________________________________

About Caplin & Drysdale
Having celebrated our 50th Anniversary in 2014, Caplin & Drysdale continues to be a leading provider of legal services to corporations, individuals, and nonprofits throughout the United States and around the world. We are also privileged to serve as legal advisors to accounting firms, financial institutions, law firms, and other professional services organizations.

The firm's reputation over the years has earned us the trust and respect of clients, industry peers, and government agencies. Moreover, clients rely on our broad knowledge of the law and our keen insights into their business concerns and personal interests. Our lawyers' strong tactical and problem-solving skills -- combined with substantial experience handling a variety of complex, high stakes, matters in a boutique environment -- make us one the nation's most distinctive law firms.

With offices in New York City and Washington, D.C., Caplin & Drysdale's core practice areas include:
For more information, please visit us at www.caplindrysdale.com.
Washington, DC Office:
One Thomas Circle NW
Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005
202.862.5000
New York, NY Office:
600 Lexington Avenue
21st Floor
New York, NY 10022
212.379.6000

___________________________

Disclaimer
This communication does not provide legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship with you or any other reader. If you require legal guidance in any specific situation, you should engage a qualified lawyer for that purpose. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Attorney Advertising
It is possible that under the laws, rules, or regulations of certain jurisdictions, this may be construed as an advertisement or solicitation.
© 2019 Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered
All Rights Reserved.

Related Professionals

Related Practice Area(s)