EPA official banned from banking; congressman wants answers

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WASHINGTON — The top Democrat on the House oversight committee is asking the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to provide more details about why it recently banned a high-ranking EPA official from the banking business.

Albert C. Kelly, who is now a senior adviser to Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt, is a former chairman of SpiritBank in Tulsa, Okla.

In a July order, the FDIC fined Kelly $125,000 and banned him from banking, concluding he had willfully violated regulations and engaged in unsafe and unsound banking practices that had harmed the bank.

“The FDIC further determined that such violation demonstrated [Kelly’s] unfitness to serve as a director, officer, person participating in the conduct of the affairs or as an institution-affiliated party of the bank, [or] any other insured depository institution,” the FDIC said.

Representative Elijah Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland and ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, waits to begin a hearing with James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), not pictured, in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, July 7, 2016. Comey is appearing before the committee to explain his finding that no reasonable prosecutor would bring a criminal case against Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, even though she and her staff were extremely careless in their handling of highly classified information. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The FDIC order did not go into specifics about what Kelly allegedly did wrong. Kelly had worked at SpiritBank for 34 years and left in April to join Pruitt's senior leadership team.

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the lead Democrat on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is seeking more information about the case against Kelly.

“It is imperative that Congress and the American people obtain detailed information about the abuses Mr. Kelly engaged in that resulted in the FDIC’s fine and order against him,” Cummings wrote.

Cummings is seeking by Oct. 6 the FDIC’s entire investigative case file and all documents obtained by the FDIC on which its prohibition order was based.

"If the FDIC has determined that Mr. Kelly is unfit to serve as an Oklahoma bank official, it is unclear why he is fit to serve as one of the top advisers to the EPA Administrator leading a major task force," Cummings wrote.

Calls to the EPA were not immediately returned. An FDIC spokeswoman said it had received the letter and would respond.

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