Mr. Pruitt described the outcome as “a small step in the right direction,” according to a report at the time in The Journal Record, a business and legal newspaper in Oklahoma. But when he ran for lieutenant governor in 2006, he cited his efforts on workers’ compensation among his main achievements. Mr. Funk served as the chairman of that unsuccessful campaign.
When Mr. Pruitt left the State Senate that year, his fellow lawmakers applauded his advocacy on workers’ compensation. In his parting remarks, Mr. Pruitt told colleagues: “I’ve always tried to approach what we do here in this body with a commitment to sound policy and trying to do things for the right reason. I believe that good politics is doing the right thing.”
Mr. Pruitt and the other investors in the shell company — Capitol House L.L.C. — sold the Oklahoma City house in 2005 for $470,000. It is unclear whether any of the proceeds went to Mr. Pruitt. The group also had at least one paying tenant, Jim Dunlap, then a Republican leader in the State Senate, who said he rented a room above the garage.
Mr. Jiles, the investor who is listed as manager of Capitol House, said in an email that each investor owned 16.66 percent of the company, and while none of them lived permanently in the house, they all had a right to stay there. The company, he said, should not be referred to as a shell company since it “acquired assets consisting of the house and its furnishings and incurred liabilities, filed tax returns and issued K-1’s to it’s members as required by law” — a reference the tax form known as a Schedule K-1.
“Nothing about the transaction, Capital House, L.L.C. or the investment was unusual, inappropriate, illegal or otherwise objectionable to anyone involved on either side of the transaction,” Mr. Jiles said.
At a hearing last week in Washington of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, lawmakers asked Mr. Pruitt about the house purchase and the use of a shell company — a lawful practice that is often used to obscure the people who have a financial interest in it, and typically is set up as a limited liability company. Mr. Pruitt’s name does not appear on any public documents related to the company; nor does Mr. Whitefield’s.
Mr. Pruitt said the company was not a shell company, but a limited liability company.
“Which is normally how you buy real estate in Oklahoma,” he said.