An increasingly long list of bizarre spending requests is adding to the ethical controversy swirling around EPA administrator Scott Pruitt. The scrutiny has grown so intense that there’s speculation over whether President Donald Trump will soon fire the head of his Environmental Protection Agency.
The items sought by Pruitt’s office came to light in a New York Times report published Thursday that relied, in part, on agency records obtained through open-records requests. Some of the expenditures required approval by state officials and not all of them were granted. But some government officials, including some of Pruitt’s own aides, pushed back against the spending requests and reportedly were sidelined as a result, pointing to an agency staff in disarray. (An EPA spokesperson denies that the staff shake-up was due to spending objections.)
So what kinds of requests are behind all the hubbub? Here’s a glance at the problematic wish list:
- Among some of the requests granted include two new desks that came to a total of $2,075 (Pruitt initially requested different desks, including a bulletproof security desk, which would have cost a total of $70,000).
- Pruitt regularly requested flights routed through Oklahoma while traveling for business, which would allow him to spend weekends at home, and he had charter flights approved after taking them, the Times reports.
- He also asked his motorcade to use lights and sirens when traveling to the airport or dinner to speed up the journey.
- Pruitt’s requests to travel first class (on the taxpayer’s dollar) were rejected—until he replaced his head of security. In his first year in office alone, Pruitt has spent over $160,000 on first-class or charter flights, even when other, cheaper options were available.
And then there are the requests that weren’t fulfilled:
- Pruitt sought a membership to a $100,000-a-month charter aircraft, which would have allowed him to “take unlimited private jet trips for official business,” notes The Times.
- Pruitt sought a bulletproof SUV with run flat tires that allow the vehicle to continue moving even when under fire.
- He also wanted to expand his security detail to 20, which is three times the size of his predecessor’s.
- He sought to maintain an unprecedented round-the-clock security, too.
- And he petitioned for a soundproof security booth, which reportedly ended up costing around $43,000.
Security appears to be an issue that plagues Pruitt, as he spent $3,000 to sweep his office for surveillance bugs and $5,800 to install biometric locks with fingerprint readers, reports Vox. Pruitt’s security detail alone might cost taxpayers as much as $2 million—and that doesn’t even include their travel and equipment costs.
(Interestingly enough, a lack of spending is what helped trigger the ethics tornado twisting around Pruitt. His unconventional lease with the wife of an energy lobbyist for a $50-per-night Capitol Hill apartment has raised questions of whether the arrangement was part of a deal for favorable treatment from the EPA.)
If these lavish spending requests sound like someone with presidential delusions, you might be right. A conservative lawyer and former EPA employee told The Times that Pruitt “wanted to be treated like he was the president.”