Hart confirmed to ABC News in a brief interview that Pruitt had lived in the flat, which is owned by a limited liability company that links to an address listed to Hart and his wife Vicki Hart, a lobbyist with expertise in the healthcare arena. Steven Hart said Vicki Hart co-owns the condo. He said his wife was not the majority owner, but would not identify her partners.
“I have no ownership interest,” he said. “Obviously, I know the owners.”
Vicki Hart does no lobbying involving the EPA, her husband said. Her website says she previously worked as a senior health policy advisor for two Senate Majority Leaders before establishing her firm in 2002.
In 2010, the newspaper Roll Call referred to the Harts as a “lobbyist power couple.”
Just last year, Cheniere Energy Inc. reported paying Hart’s firm $80,000.
Cheniere Energy Inc. owned the only active Liquid Natural Gas export plant in the United States at the time. Liquid natural gas exports was on the agenda for discussion during Pruitt’s December 2017 trip to Morocco, according to an agency press release.
On the trip, Pruitt pitched “the potential benefit of liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports on Morocco’s economy,” the release said.
The revelations about Pruitt’s living situation come as more questions are being raised by members of Congress about his travel habits. The Morocco trip was one of Pruitt’s most expensive. ABC News has learned that Pruitt, his head of security, and an additional member of his staff, Samantha Dravis, all flew first class on the trip.
Both environmental groups and members of Congress pointed out that the jurisdiction over natural gas exports typically falls to the Department of Energy - not the EPA.
Cheniere Energy spokeswoman Rachel Carmichel told ABC News the company ended its relationship with Hart’s firm in December 2017. The spokeswoman went on to say Cheniere was unaware of the relationship and had not used Hart’s firm to have conversations with the EPA.
Norfolk Southern also declined to comment when reached by ABC News.
Morgan, an ethics expert in private practice in Washington, D.C., said the lobbying connection only further muddies the living arrangement. He said the rental agreement could create ethics problems for Pruitt even if he did reimburse his landlord for rent.
“What are the terms of the rental agreement?” Morgan asked. “It’s not just a question if he is paying market rent. Was he given the ability to end it immediately? Would someone come after him if he were not to pay rent?”
EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox declined to answer questions about the arrangement.
Vicki Hart reached on her cell phone, said she would call back to discuss the matter but never did.
Steven Hart declined to address details of the rental agreement, saying it was a private matter and up to Pruitt to decide whether they should be made public.
The White House has not responded to a request for comment from ABC News.
ABC News' Katherine Faulders and Ali Dukakis contributed to this report