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Trump's EPA chief Scott Pruitt weighing Senate run in Oklahoma

Scott Pruitt, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is weighing a run for an open Senate seat in Oklahoma. According to three sources, Pruitt has been making calls to gauge support if he declares his candidacy for the already-crowded GOP primary. 

Republican Senator Jim Inhofe announced in February that he would retire from the Senate at the end of the year. The upcoming vacancy has drawn interest from a wide range of candidates. 

Representative Markwayne Mullin, former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon, Oklahoma state Senator Nate Dahm and Inhofe's former chief of staff Luke Holland have already announced that they will run in the GOP primary. Inhofe has endorsed Holland. Former Democratic Representative Kendra Horn, who lost her reelection bid in 2020, has also announced that she is running for the seat.

Pruitt was Oklahoma's attorney general before he took over the EPA. As the agency's administrator, he was key to implementing President Trump's conservative environmental agenda.

EPA Pruitt
In this May 16, 2018 file photo, then-Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt appears before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies on budget on Capitol Hill in Washington.  Andrew Harnik / AP

Pruitt's tenure at the EPA under Trump was pockmarked by ethics scandals that lent the appearance of Pruitt trying to benefit personally from his office. The department's inspector general launched multiple investigations into Pruitt over his tenure, but most of those probes were ultimately inconclusive because Pruitt resigned in 2018 before the investigations had been completed.

Among the scandals: He argued it was necessary for him to fly first class because of threats to his safety. Pruitt arranged a sweetheart real estate deal, paying just $50 a night to stay in an apartment owned by an energy lobbyist. 

He also used EPA staff for personal business - asking a government employee to track down a mattress from the Trump Hotel and using official staff to investigate a potential business opportunity for him with Chick-fil-a.

But despite a barrage of negative headlines, Pruitt never lost support of his boss, former President Trump. 

Pruitt will have to decide whether to enter the race by April 15. Pruitt did not return two calls seeking comment.

The primary in the race is scheduled for June 28 and the general election will take place on November 8. Whichever GOP candidate prevails in the primary will be a heavy favorite to replace Inhofe, who is two years into his six year term. 

Oklahoma will have two Senate elections in 2022. Republican incumbent Senator James Lankford is up for reelection and facing a primary challenge.

Major Garrett contributed to this report.

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