Pruitt cleared of wrongdoing by GAO over controversial beef association ad

Former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt has been cleared of at least one of the political allegations made against him, claims that eventually led to him being forced out of office. And the Democrats in Congress who attacked him over it aren’t commenting.

The Government Accountability Office has absolved him of any wrongdoing over his involvement in an advertisement for beef. The GAO released a report on Wednesday stating that Pruitt did not violate any publicity or propaganda and anti-lobbying laws when he appeared in a 2017 National Cattlemen’s Beef Association video.

“EPA’s use of its appropriations for the then-Administrator’s interview and appearance in an NCBA video did not violate the publicity or propaganda, grassroots lobbying, or Interior anti-lobbying provisions,” the GAO report read. “Because the then-Administrator’s appearance in the video did not constitute a communication that was self-aggrandizing, purely partisan, or covert, EPA did not violate the publicity or propaganda prohibition.”

It was last year during a national tour that Pruitt allowed an interview with the beef group to talk about his proposed changes to the Waters of the US rule. The Beef Association posted it to the group’s website and its social media pages with overlays giving a call to action.

The EPA at the time contended it had no control of the marketing of the video and was not involved in its creation.

“This is part of our state action tour, where we’ve gone out across the country, visiting with farmers and ranchers, stakeholders with respect to our redefining of what a Water of the United States is under the Clean Water Act,” Pruitt says in part in the video.

Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and three other Democratic members of Congress initially requested the investigation.