The Capitol Hill bistro didn’t boast the trappings of Scott Pruitt’s former office. No 19th-century paintings on loan from the Smithsonian. No captain’s desk or stately fireplaces. No biometric locks.

But Radici, near Eastern Market, offered President Trump’s former Cabinet member something he needed after he was forced out of the Environmental Protection Agency in July: a friendly landing spot.

Pruitt met with associates at the small farmhouse restaurant, across the street from his upscale condo, usually at a tiny two-top table in a corner. The staff called him “Edward,” after 21 year-old barista Mariah Fraker swiped his credit card one day and fixated on his given name. “Should I call you Edward, Ed? Eddie? Ted? Teddy?” she asked. “People call me Scott,” he replied, but she paid him no mind.

Nearly six months after Pruitt’s high-end travel, discount condo rental and use of staff for personal purposes created an ethics hole so deep that Trump decided to cut him loose, the man who once had been talked about as a candidate for attorney general – or possibly even president – has for now carefully avoided the public spotlight in which he once basked.

Instead, he has tapped the industry connections he cultivated during his year and-a-half as a Cabinet member, according to four individuals briefed on his plans, as he works to make his way in the private sector and establish his own consulting business.

Pruitt is promoting coal exports and doing other work for his longtime friend, coal baron Joseph W. Craft III, while offering himself as an energy consultant and paid speaker, said several friends and associates, who asked for anonymity to speak frankly.


In an interview, Pruitt’s lawyer Cleta Mitchell said it makes sense for Pruitt – who had not held a job in the private sector since he was elected as Oklahoma’s attorney general eight years ago – to seek work in an area he knows plenty about. “He was named EPA administrator because of his vast expertise and knowledge in the field – the field of energy and the environment and the regulatory process,” she said.

While there are only a few physical remnants of Pruitt’s time at EPA – namely a largely unused, $43,000 soundproof phone booth and a spot on a wall for a portrait that remains unfinished – his term has left a lasting mark on the agency, and the environment. During his short tenure Pruitt worked aggressively to shrink the EPA’s size and ambition, sow doubt about the scientific consensus that human activity is driving climate change and appoint deputies determined to carry on his deregulatory agenda.

Pruitt enjoyed close rapport with Trump, but White House officials became frustrated as congressional and federal investigators probed an array of allegations, including charges that he used his position – three times – to obtain work for his wife. Investigators also scrutinized the administrator’s deal with a lobbyist to rent a condo for $50 a night.

Top aides convinced the president to let him go last summer, but Pruitt has continued to shuttle between Washington and Tulsa, meeting with officials from the same industries he oversaw while at EPA.

Rather than seeking work that might violate Trump’s lobbying restrictions, Pruitt has pitched himself as a sort of messenger who could advance the goals of America’s industrial sector.

In October, for example, Pruitt met with officials from the National Association of Manufacturers, according to two individuals familiar with the meeting.

Pruitt’s first out-of-town trip after being sworn in was to address the association’s spring board meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz. And the trade group backed several of the regulatory rollbacks he set in motion, including the repeal of Obama-era limits on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and a rule relaxing new reporting procedures for facilities that produce and store hazardous chemicals.

In November, Pruitt met in Washington with staff from the Edison Electric Institute, the utility industry’s largest trade group – and an organization he’d met with less than a month after being sworn in, EPA records show.

Mitchell said the meetings were unrelated to Pruitt’s career.

Craft, a major Trump donor, eventually retained Pruitt, according to two associates, to consult on overseas sales – an important market as the number of U.S. coal-fired power plants continues to shrink.

“Joe Craft has been a personal friend for many years, predating Scott’s tenure as EPA Administrator,” Mitchell said. “To suggest or infer anything to the contrary is false.”

While coal is no longer king in the U.S., overseas the top 16 markets increased their U.S. coal imports by 13.2 percent during the third quarter of 2018 compared to the same period a year earlier, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

As Pruitt returned to the private sector, his financial pressures were exacerbated by his legal burdens, according to public disclosures.

Pruitt complained of money woes while in office, telling aides that even on his $189,600 salary, he was stretched, maintaining the mortgage on his $1.2 million home in Tulsa along with a new condo rental on Capitol Hill. By the time he left the EPA in early July, according to federal financial disclosure forms, he shouldered between $100,000 and $250,000 in bills from one Oklahoma-based law firm, and between $15,000 and $50,000 from another. He also had credit card debt of between $15,000 and $50,000.


Ethics issues aside, Pruitt fulfilled the mission the president appointed him to execute.

Over the past two years, the EPA staff shrank 6 percent, according to a Post analysis of federal data. As a result, according to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the agency is down 245 scientists, 116 engineers and 237 environmental protection specialists.

Pruitt once assured Trump that he had cut the agency’s size to Reagan-era levels and was returning its focus to its “core mission,” as opposed to climate change. Scaling back what he called the previous administration’s regulatory excesses, Pruitt worked to reverse Obama-era policies aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, loosening carbon limits on power plants and suspending tighter emissions standards for diesel-powered trucks.

His policies have prompted at least four dozen legal challenges from opponents including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and Democratic attorneys general led by California’s Xavier Becerra. But his one-time deputy Andrew Wheeler – a former coal and energy lobbyist tapped by the president to succeed him – is now working to advance many of these initiatives.