More controversial expenditures at the Environmental Protection Agency have been revealed thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request: Last year, one of EPA chief Scott Pruitt's top aides spent $1,560 on fountain pens and $1,670 on personalized journals, the Washington Post reports. The order from Tiny Jewel Box, DC's "premier destination for fine jewelry and watches," was signed off on by Millan Hupp, whom Pruitt referred to as a "longtime friend" in congressional testimony last year, per CNN. That's significant because Pruitt has attempted to distance himself from pricey EPA purchases, blaming it on "career staff," but in this case it was a close aide rather than a career staffer who signed off on the purchase.
The dozen pens, at $130 a pop, were engraved with Pruitt's signature and an EPA seal; a spokesperson says they are similar to purchases Pruitt's predecessors made "for the purpose of serving as gifts to the Administrator's foreign counterparts and dignitaries upon his meeting with them." Indeed, a $2,952 purchase was made from the same shop during the Obama administration. The EPA is also, of course, under fire for a $43,000 phone booth. Also Friday, it was revealed that the energy lobbyist whose wife rented Pruitt a DC condo at a great price had much more contact with the EPA than had been previously disclosed, the AP reports. Specifically, he was revealed to have lobbied the EPA last year despite Pruitt insisting he had not. (Read more Environmental Protection Agency stories.)