A lobbyist who arranged and accompanied Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt to Morocco last year is now officially working for the Rabat government.
Richard Smotkin, a former Comcast lobbyist and longtime Pruitt friend, also recently registered as an agent for a foreign government after accepting a $40,000-a-month contract to promote Morocco’s cultural and economic interests.
The December trip, which is being investigated by lawmakers as well as the EPA inspector general, cost over $100,000, more than twice reported by the agency, The Post reports. It included four days in Morocco, $16,217 for Pruitt’s airfare and a $494 one-night stay at a Paris hotel. He was accompanied by eight staff members and his round-the-clock security detail, according to federal records obtained by The Post.
Smotkin’s role raises ethical questions because it is against federal law to use government resources to financially benefit relatives, friends or close connections.
The EPA said Smotkin “did not attend or participate in any official meetings with the Moroccan government,” but The Post reports that individuals familiar with the trip said he was a near-constant presence there.
The agency also told The Post Monday that Pruitt was unaware of the depth of Smotkin’s business relationship with the Moroccan government.
Pruitt has come under fire over the EPA budget, his spending habits, expensive travels and even a $43,000 soundproof privacy booth for his office.