September 2017: The Post reports that Pruitt’s use of noncommercial and military flights had cost taxpayers more than $58,000.
Pruitt also faces criticism in September for installing a costly soundproof booth in his office. Later, in testimony before Congress, he defends the booth as “necessary for me to be able to do my job,” even though previous EPA administrators did not have a similar setup.
February 2018: The Post publishes an examination of Pruitt’s repeated use of first-class flights and his stays in upscale hotels while on official business. One round-trip flight by Pruitt to Italy cost more than $7,000, part of a trip that ultimately cost taxpayers at least $120,000. Another series of flights to several U.S. cities cost more than $10,000. The agency has cited unspecified security concerns as the reason for Pruitt’s first-class travel, but experts have struggled to explain why premium seats would be safer than flying coach.
March 2018: ABC News reports that for several months, Pruitt paid $50 a night to rent part of a Capitol Hill condo co-owned by the wife of a lobbyist whose firm lobbies on energy and transportation issues. In addition to the rental’s surprisingly low price given its location, Pruitt only had to pay for the nights he stayed in Washington.
Pruitt also faces scrutiny in March over his round-the-clock security detail, as well as reports that his soundproof phone booth — originally thought to have had a nearly $25,000 price tag — actually cost $43,000.
April 2018: The Post reports that Pruitt used a little-known legal loophole to grant five-figure pay raises to two young EPA staff members — even after his request was initially rebuffed by White House officials, according to reports. The aides resigned in June, and Pruitt has maintained that he was unaware of the raises.
Later in April, several staffers, including Pruitt’s former deputy chief of staff for operations, claim they faced retaliation after challenging the EPA administrator over his use of taxpayer funds. Pruitt has insisted there is “no truth” to such reports.
June 2018: An EPA staffer tells congressional investigators that she was tasked with tracking down a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel in Washington for Pruitt’s purchase. The search for a “Trump Home Luxury Plush Euro Pillow Top” mattress was among several questionable tasks the aide was asked to perform, including apartment-hunting for Pruitt and helping to book travel for his family vacation.
Pruitt also reportedly asked members of his security detail to pick up his dry cleaning, drive him around in search of his favorite moisturizing lotion — available only at Ritz-Carlton hotels — and perform other errands.
Adding to Pruitt’s troubles in June, The Post reports that three months after his swearing-in as EPA chief, Pruitt enlisted an agency staffer to help his wife, Marlyn Pruitt, become a Chick-fil-A franchisee. Ultimately, the effort did not lead to her opening a fast-food franchise.
July 2018: As recently as this week, a former EPA official told CNN that Pruitt kept “secret” calendars and instructed staffers to routinely purge certain events from his official schedule. Two individuals with knowledge of the situation told The Post that one of the names removed from Pruitt’s calendar was that of Cardinal George Pell, who was charged with sexual misconduct last year. An EPA spokesman maintained Thursday that “there are no secret calendars or schedules.”
In an Oval Office conversation this spring, Pruitt also directly approached Trump and asked him to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions with himself, according to CNN. Pruitt has denied that he ever made such an appeal.
Pruitt aides also revealed this week that the administrator had sought to find his wife a job with an annual salary of more than $200,000 and enlisted his staff in the effort.
— Felicia Sonmez, Dino Grandoni, Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis