Radio host Hugh Hewitt dismissed a Politico article reporting that Hewitt brokered a meeting between his law firm and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, calling it a non-story.
According to Politico, “EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt placed a polluted California area on his personal priority list of Superfund sites targeted for 'immediate and intense' action after conservative radio and television host Hugh Hewitt brokered a meeting between him and lawyers for the water district that was seeking federal help to clean up the polluted Orange County site.”
Hewitt has long been a staunch defender of Pruitt on both his radio show and on MSNBC, though some journalists have highlighted the impropriety of Hewitt asking Pruitt for favors while defending the EPA head in the media. On his radio show, Hewitt dismissed any ethical concerns surrounding the favor he asked of Pruitt.
From the May 8 episode of Salem Radio Network’s The Hugh Hewitt Show:
Politico has a story about me today. It's unbelievable. They have turned this into into a headline ... “Pruitt fast-tracked California cleanup after Hugh Hewitt brokered meeting.” Now the background on this is Scott Pruitt’s been my friend for years, my son works at EPA -- my routine disclosure. And I have lived in Orange County until 2016 -- in fact, served 17 years on the Orange County Children & Families Commission, and everybody in Orange County knows there is a giant Superfund site in Orange County called the North Basin with about 5 square miles of gunk in it. And Obama people negotiated an agreement to begin the treatment of it, and my law firm represents the Orange County Water District. So I sent Scott Pruitt a letter in an email in September and said, “Would you meet with the OCWD? You missed them when you were out here.” ... And they had a meeting. And I didn't go to it because I don't know anything about how to do the Superfund clean-up; I'm an endangered species lawyer. But in any event, that shows up in the FOIA request, which -- I knew it was going to show up in the FOIA request -- I just didn't think it was a story.
[reads from Politico article] “EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt placed a polluted California area on his personal priority list of Superfund sites targeted for ‘immediate and intense’ action after conservative radio and television host Hugh Hewitt brokered a meeting between him and lawyers for the water district that was seeking help, federal help to clean up the polluted Orange County site,” begins the Politico piece. Brokered. [laughs] I sent him an email to meet with the Orange County Water District. They’re very proud of the plan. There’s nobody who opposes this, by the way. It's Obama-era! Nobody opposes; we just wanted to get going, because it’s 5 square miles of polluted water, and so yes, I am all in favor of cleaning up this Superfund site in my home county!
[continues reading from Politico article] “The previously unreported meeting” -- I don’t know what that means -- “which was documented in emails released by the EPA under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Sierra Club … showed Pruitt’s staff reacting quickly to the request last September by Hewitt, who has been one of Pruitt’s staunchest defenders” -- yes, in fact I urged he be appointed to this job -- “amid a raft of ethics controversies” -- made-up, mostly made-up, that’s Hugh Hewitt -- “around his expensive travel, security team and a cheap Washington condo rental from a lobbyist.” It wasn’t cheap; it was market rate.
[continues reading from Politico article] “Hewitt, a resident of Orange County … whose son James works in EPA’s press office emailed Pruitt in September” -- by the way, everyone knows James [Hewitt] works at EPA -- “to set up a meeting between the administrator and the law firm Larson O’Brien, which employs Hewitt” -- I'm actually a partner. … “A month later, Pruitt proposed listing the [North Basin] site on EPA’s National Priorities List…”