Newly released documents show a lobbyist helped organize a trip to Australia for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt last year, a trip that ultimately never happened because of Hurricane Harvey.
The New York Times reported on documents that were made public through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. They show Matthew Freedman, who runs the consulting firm Global Impact Inc., worked in tandem with lobbyist Richard Smotkin and employees at the EPA to organize the trip for Pruitt and his entourage.
Freedman also instructed the EPA officials to keep his name out of the itinerary and any public documents about the trip.
Millan Hupp is Pruitt's director of scheduling and advance and was in contact with Freedman last June about the trip. Freedman's emails contain details about meetings he set up between Pruitt and Australian government officials, but he also talked about taking Pruitt to a site in Australia's Outback and provided several ideas for restaurants and things to do in Sydney.
Freedman referenced contacts he has with the U.S. Navy regarding talks Pruitt could hold with Naval officials stationed in Australia.
Freedman, according to the Global Impact website, is the treasurer of the American Australian Council — a lobbying group that targets U.S.-based companies with office locations in Australia.
It was also reported Wednesday a lobbyist and longtime friend of Pruitt helped organize a controversial trip he made to Morocco last year. Former Comcast lobbyist Richard Smotkin, who also played a role in putting together the Australia trip, contributed to nailing down details of the Morocco journey that cost taxpayers $100,000.
Four months after the trip, Smotkin secured a lobbying contract with Morocco that paid him $40,000 per month.
Pruitt has come under fire over allegations that he violated ethics rules at the EPA.
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