The Environmental Protection Agency spent $1,560 on a dozen custom-made fountain pens adorned with the EPA seal and the signature of Administrator Scott Pruitt, the Washington Post reported Friday.
The pens were purchased from a local Washington jewelry store, Tiny Jewel Box, and approved by EPA scheduling director Millan Hupp, who has been entangled in several reports of Pruitt’s questionable behavior in recent months. Hupp was reportedly given a massive raise that Pruitt improperly arranged and used her official business time to search for an apartment for Pruitt and his wife.
“The cost of the Qty. 12 Fountain Pens will be around $1,560.00,” a staffer emailed Hupp in August, according to a trove of thousands of emails released because of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club, an environmental organization. “All the other items total cost is around $1,670.00 which these items are in process. Please advise.”
“Yes, please order. Thank you,” Hupp reportedly responded later the same day.
The purchase sign-off by Hupp is significant because it pokes holes in Pruitt’s repetitive defense that career staffers within his department are the ones signing off on excessive and expensive purchases that he’s come under fire for, like a $43,000 sound proof phone booth and an unprecedented around-the-clock security detail. Hupp is a top aide who has worked closely with Pruitt since his Oklahoma days.
EPA spokesman John Wilcox told the Post that the pens were purchased to serve as “gifts” to Pruitt’s “foreign counterparts and dignitaries upon his meeting with them.”
“This adheres to the same protocol of former EPA administrators and were purchased using funds budgeted for such a purpose,” he told the Post.
The New York Times reported earlier this spring that Pruitt was interested in ordering new fountain pens, stationary and leather notebooks that didn’t include the EPA seal, but rather his name “featured prominently.” Pruitt also reportedly wanted to redesign the agency’s “challenge coin,” by omitting the EPA seal and adding “symbols more reflective of himself and the Trump administration.” The items ended up including a small version of the seal and the coins were never order, according to the Times.