Scott Pruitt might very well enjoy the dubious honor of being the most unapologetically crooked person in Donald Trump’s Cabinet. When he’s not paying chump change to stay in a fancy DC apartment owned by the family of a powerful lobbyist, or kicking back in first class because he’s worried the plebes will be mean to him in coach, he’s busy squeezing every penny out of his position, including, we now know, dropping over a grand and a half of public money on a set of fancy pens. Yes, pens.
In response to a FOIA lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club, the EPA this week released a cache of documents featuring an email exchange in which a top Pruitt aide signed off on more than $3,200 worth of stationary items—including 12 silver fountain pens that cost the American public $1,560—from a high-end Washington, D.C. jewelry store this past August. The order was approved by Millan Hupp, whom the Washington Post described as Puritt’s “head of scheduling and advance and a trusted confidante dating to his Oklahoma days.”
The $130 pens, each featuring the EPA’s official seal and Pruitt’s signature, “were made for the purpose of serving as gifts to the Administrator’s foreign counterparts and dignitaries upon his meeting with them,” an EPA spokesman told the Post on Friday. “This adheres to the same protocol of former EPA Administrators and were purchased using funds budgeted for such a purpose.”
As the Post notes, earlier this week, Pruitt blamed “decisions made by career staff” on his long list of reported extravagances during an interview with the conservative Washington Free Beacon. The emails obtained in the FOIA dump, however, show the opposite: An exorbitant purchase made not by a career EPA employee, but one of Puritt’s close personal friends. As such, it appears to fall right in line with Pruitt’s tried and true pattern of using his position to enjoy the finer things in life with his pals.
Pruitt also reportedly wanted a new line of EPA pens and journals to feature a revamped agency logo, since he thought the old one looked a little too much like the demon weed, marijuana.