Diane Hendricks© 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP
The flood of ethics scandals that forced Scott Pruitt out of Trump’s Cabinet has also cost him a fortune in legal fees. Luckily he has a rich friend. In a filing released Thursday, Pruitt disclosed a single donor to his legal defense fund: Wisconsin billionaire and GOP megadonor Diane Hendricks.
Hendricks—the cofounder of roofing supply giant ABC Supply and, with an estimated net worth of $6.2 billion, America’s wealthiest self-made woman—gave $50,000 to the Scott Pruitt Legal Expenses Trust, according to the filing.
Pruitt did not disclose when Hendricks made the payment. He set up the fund as public scrutiny intensified over a number of alleged ethical improprieties, including booking pricey jet travel, purchasing a $43,000 soundproof phone booth for his office and living in a lobbyist’s condo at below-market rent. The resulting legal bills had already reached between $115,000 and $300,000 last year, according to one government filing. It’s unclear how much Pruitt currently owes.
While federal law allows government officials to set up legal expense funds, an EPA ethics official cautioned in the filing that Pruitt “did not seek ethics advice from EPA before accepting this gift to pay for legal expenses.” The official added that “EPA ethics officials did not know of this contribution—believed to be in cash—until they received the termination report.”
The donation may have been enough to cover a sizable portion of Pruitt’s legal debts, but it was no sweat for Hendricks (who could not be immediately reached for comment). The daughter of Wisconsin dairy farmers, Hendricks waitressed and worked in a pen factory before cofounding ABC Supply with her late husband, Ken, in 1982. The $9 billion (sales) company—which Hendricks has led since Ken’s 2007 death—is one of the largest wholesale distributors of roofing, siding and windows in America. It has also helped Diane become a major player in Republican politics. In August 2016, Donald Trump made her an economic adviser to his presidential campaign.
More Info: forbes.com