Adviser to EPA chief cited for federal banking violations
WASHINGTON (AP) — A high-ranking political appointee at the Environmental Protection Agency has been cited by federal financial regulators for unspecified violations while serving as the top executive at a community bank in Oklahoma.
Albert “Kell” Kelly was hired earlier this year as a senior adviser to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Kelly was previously the chairman of Tulsa-based SpiritBank, where he worked as an executive for 34 years.
An order disclosed Friday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation bars Kelly from working for any U.S. financial institution after regulators determined they had grounds to believe he violated laws or regulations, leading to a financial loss for his bank. The order does not specify what Kelly is alleged to have done. Without admitting wrongdoing, Kelly also agreed to pay a $125,000 penalty.
Both the FDIC and bank declined to comment about the matter on Monday.
Pruitt served as Oklahoma’s attorney general prior to his appointment by President Donald Trump. He has long known Kelly, whose bank provided $6.8 million financing when Pruitt and his business partners purchased Oklahoma City’s minor league baseball team in 2003, according to public records. Pruitt owned 25 percent of the club before selling the franchise in 2010, another deal SpiritBank helped finance.
In a statement, Pruitt’s chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, said the EPA is fortunate to have Kelly on the staff. Pruitt has appointed Kelly to head his effort to restructure EPA’s Superfund program, which cleans up toxic waste sites.
“Kell has received full ethics and financial disclosure training as any EPA political appointee and senior official receives,” said Jackson, who added that he has known Kelly for many years. “He has already contributed immensely to the administrator’s agenda to speed up remediation timelines.”
An EPA official told The Associated Press that Kelly disclosed the FDIC probe before he was hired and that he will remain at EPA. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
Kelly is paid an annual salary of $172,100, according to EPA records.
Associated Press reporter Kelly Kissel in Little Rock, Arkansas, contributed.
Follow AP environmental writer Michael Biesecker at www.Twitter.com/mbieseck