EPA Head Scott Pruitt Under Fire for Spending $3,230 on 12 Custom Pens, Other Office Items
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt is again under fire for his agency spending habits, this time over a $3,230 order his office made and approved of for 12 customized silver fountain pens and other items including personalized leather journals.
The nature of the order was revealed after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the Sierra Club led to the release of thousands of pages of emails sent and received by employees at the EPA. One staffer, who had been working with Tiny Jewel Box, the store from which the purchase was made, emailed top Pruitt aide Millan Hupp in order to have the total cost approved.
“The cost of the Qty. 12 Fountain Pens will be around $1,560.00,” the staffer sent on Aug. 14. “All the other items total cost is around $1,670.00 which these items are in process. Please advise.”
“Yes, please order,” Hupp responded. “Thank you.”
EPA head Scott Pruitt spent $3,230 on pens and journals https://t.co/N4EUYX3lby
— FORTUNE (@FortuneMagazine) June 3, 2018
The controversy that has followed the release of these emails is heightened due in no small part to the fact that Pruitt and his staff at the EPA have been under intense scrutiny over the last several months for their spending of taxpayer money on office upgrades, the installation of a $43,000 phone booth, an unprecedented personal security detail, a customized SUV with bulletproof seats and first-class travel.
EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox defended the office’s purchases in a statement released on Friday morning, saying that they “were made for the purpose of serving as gifts to the administrator’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.”
While Pruitt has blamed some of these expenditures on his staff, saying that he often had nothing to do with the purchases, critics have been quick to indicate that a pattern of lax and indulgent spending habits at the EPA ultimately falls on his shoulders as the agency’s administrator.
While taxpayers certainly have a right to question whether or not an order of $130 fountain pens is a proper use of their money, it is important to note that customized luxury writing instruments in the promo industry, such as those sold by A.T. Cross, can sell for more than those purchased by the EPA. Such pens are regularly given as corporate gifts and commemorative items.
Unfortunately for Pruitt, the promo industry doesn’t sell private phone booths or bulletproof seats. If it did, however, we assure you that they would be of higher quality than those his office has already purchased. Anyway, who would spend $43,000 on a phone booth and not slap a logo on it? That’s just weak.