It’s been almost 10 weeks since the Environmental Protection Agency’s scandal-ridden former administrator Scott Pruitt left his job. At the time there was no word of what his next move would be, and he has remained relatively under the radar, until now.
As the New York Times revealed on Wednesday, Pruitt is currently in talks to become a consultant for Kentucky coal mining “tycoon” Joseph W. Craft III. Craft is the chief executive of Alliance Resource Partners and a major Republican donor — Craft and his wife, Kelly Craft, donated more than $2 million to Trump’s campaign and inauguration.
According to sources speaking with the Times, Pruitt is hoping to develop his own consulting firm. One said Pruitt would not be an employee of Alliance but rather the company would be a client of his.
Pruitt resigned on July 5 after mounting scandals about how he ran the agency — allegedly retaliating against staff who questioned his decisions — and his expensive spending habits, including first class travel and and a 24/7 security detail.
His tenure at the EPA was also characterized by sweeping environmental deregulation and a close relationship with polluting industries. In fact, during his time in office he met with Craft — now his potential future employer — at least seven times during his 14 months. This is more meetings than Pruitt ever had with any environmental group.
Craft also made headlines when he gave Pruitt courtside tickets to a University of Kentucky basketball game. Pruitt attended the game with his son and security detail.
Craft, as the head of Alliance Resource Partners, crusaded against the Obama administration’s efforts to curb pollution and environmental destruction caused by the coal industry. He has also claimed the science behind climate change isn’t settled, saying in a 2010 interview, “there is significant debate about the science, and the gravity of the issues we’re facing.”
Pruitt and Craft first met in the mid-2000s, but this relationship became more fruitful during Pruitt’s time at the EPA. During this time the two traded text messages and, last year, Pruitt announced the repeal of Obama’s signature climate plan in Craft’s hometown, with Craft in the audience.