OKLAHOMA CITY: Saxum CEO Renzi Stone said with "100% certainty" on Friday morning that helping to provide tickets for the 2018 Rose Bowl to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt did not benefit a client.
The ticket connection was raised on Thursday by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), ranking member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who sent a letter to Stone requesting information about the transaction, according to The Washington Post. A Pruitt aide told the committee last month that Stone had provided Pruitt’s family with tickets to the bowl game between Oklahoma University, for which Stone is a booster, and the University of Georgia. Pruitt is the former attorney general of Oklahoma.
"Federal ethics rules prohibit government employees from accepting gifts, such as tickets to sporting events, unless they pay ‘market value,’" Cummings wrote in his letter, adding no government employee can accept a gift.
Asked if the transaction would benefit a client, Stone responded with "100% certainty" that it would not. "No client benefit of any kind," he said, via email. "It’s not the kind of work we do."
"When someone publicly insinuates something, it’s important to get the facts out, and that’s been my approach this morning," Stone said, via email. "I did pass along an EPA aide’s request for my friend Scott to purchase tickets to the Rose Bowl to the [Oklahoma University] ticket office. I haven’t thought about it since. My agency and I have not lobbied the EPA on behalf of our clients and will respond with that message to Rep. Cummings."
Cummings requested extensive information about the transaction, including "all documents and communications between you, Administrator Pruitt, or any of your agents or representatives on any topic."
Cummings said in his letter that the EPA is processing a petition from one of Saxum’s clients, Plains All American Pipeline. The energy company wants to "discharge hydrostatic test water from a pipeline in Corpus Christi, Texas," he said.
Saxum’s revenue increased by 42% year-over-year in 2017 to $9.2 million. The firm has clients in oil and gas, wind, solar, transmission, utilities, and other energy categories.
Pruitt has been mired in a series of ethics controversies for months. The EPA administrator has been accused of demanding lavish security and travel benefits and attempting to use his position to secure a Chick-fil-A franchise for his wife. It is unclear why he did not attempt to secure tickets through a conventional channel.
Stone, who is traveling the world with his family, didn’t say to what extent he would comply with Cummings’ request. The CEO of the Oklahoma-based PR firm also responded to the Sierra Club on Twitter.