In fact, as I was writing up the first version of this report in April, five Democrats wrote a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) with a compelling argument that two particular expenses, a $43,000 phone booth and a sweep for surveillance devices in Pruitt’s office, were useless and conducted through an improperly awarded contract, respectively.
But is it really that bad, all told? Like Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) said earlier this year, “it may add up to more than what the previous guy did. But what about the big picture of how he’s taking care of the taxpayer’s dollars with the department, the EPA?”
Well, let’s tally it up:
- A soundproof phone booth in Pruitt’s office, even though the EPA already has so-called “Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities”: $43,000, including installation.
- Bullet-resistant seat covers, alongside plenty of other unnecessary additions on a new SUV lease that was itself unnecessary, because the EPA already had one: $10,200 yearly lease.
- Five-digit raises for seven EPA staffers featured in a recent EPA IG document who had mostly worked at the EPA for less than a year: $204,693.
- Costly trips abroad, including to Italy ($120,000) and to Morocco ($100,000), and advanced work by two staffers and three security officers for a planned trip to Australia ($45,000) that Pruitt did not end up taking.
- An unprecedentedly massive, 24/7 security detail that Pruitt’s taken along to venues like the Rose Bowl and Disneyland: $3,500,000 in its first year.
- Cost to repair the door to Pruitt’s former townhouse, after said security detail smashed through it in a panic, only to find Pruitt napping inside: $2,460.
- Sweep for surveillance devices in the administrator’s office: $3,000.
- A now-cancelled contract for media monitoring with a GOP opposition-research firm: $120,000.
- Subsequent contract to another GOP-aligned media firm to produce reporting touting Pruitt’s accomplishments: $6,500.
- Private, charter and business-class flights justified as security expenses because Pruitt was apparently getting cursed at on airplanes: Tens of thousands of dollars, at least.
- Biometric locks for the administrator’s office: Nearly $6,000.
- Pay for EPA staffers to act as headhunters for the administrator’s wife, Marlyn Pruitt, as well as to complete Pruitt’s day-to-day errands like fetching coffee, lotion and dry-cleaning. At least one aide was asked to inquire about a used mattress from Trump’s hotel in Washington, D.C.
- Customized fountain pens with Pruitt’s signature: $1,560.
Did I forget anything?
This post was updated on June 13, 2018.