Right-Hand Man to Scott Pruitt Quits EPA

Scott Pruitt’s lost one of his right-hand men  he took with him from Oklahoma to run the Environmental Protection Agency.

On Tuesday, Albert “Kell” Kelly, a former Tulsa banker who was named by Pruitt to run the Superfund cleanup program resigned. He had held the position for a year after the FDIC banned him for lifetime from banking. Kelly had previous connections with SpiritBank and got into trouble over a loan from the bank.

The FDIC fined him $125,000 in addition to the lifetime banking ban. The resignation prompted a statement from Pruitt who said Kelly’s service at EPA will be sorely missed.

“In just over a year,  he has made a tremendous impact on EPA’s Superfund program, serving as chair of the Superfund Task Force and presiding over the development of the steps necessary to implement the recommendations in the report.”

But the banking connections nagged Kelly as he worked for the past year at the EPA. Kelly’s family owned SpiritBank for generations but the FDIC said he received a loan  without FDIC approval.

Still, Pruitt defended the work Kelly did for the EPA.

“He has helped EPA professionals find solutions to moving languished sites down the path to cleanup, including San Jacinto in Texas, Portland Harbor in Oregon and West Lake in St. Louis,” the EPA administrator said. “Additionally, Kell has been instrumental in organizing EPA’s effort to eradicate lead poisoning across the country within the decade.”

SpiritBank has had other political connections. It loaned {Pruitt money to help him and business partners buy the Oklahoma City Redhawks in 2004. The bank also gave a mortgage to Pruitt.

The same bank has had connections to other elected officials. Former Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas was on the bank board while she served as Commissioner.

Current Corporation Commissioner Todd Hiett is on the board of directors of the bank, as indicated in his Corporation Commission website.