The Slatest

Former EPA Head Scott Pruitt Made Only One Five-Minute Call on the $43,000 Phone He Had Installed in His Office

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt walks during a picnic on the South Lawn of the White House July 4, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Whuh?
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/Getty Images

The tenure of America’s most comically corrupt politician, former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, came to an end with his resignation from office after managing to survive month after month of simply ludicrous—and unrepentant—expenditures while heading the environmental agency. The Trump appointee liked nice things almost as much as he liked not paying for them. The examples of dubious dealings are many, including whopping travel expenses, using his position to try to snag his wife a job, cut-rate rental deals, and, bizarrely, hotel mattresses. Perhaps the most notably outlandish of Pruitt’s relentlessly tone-deaf expenses, however, was his renovation of his office at the EPA, which included the installation of a phone booth that ended up costing the taxpayer $43,000. That’s a lot of data.

Pruitt justified the purchase, which started at $25,000 before ballooning, of the soundproof mausoleum to the telephone as vital to providing secure communications between Pruitt and other important people that he needed to have important conversations with because of his importance. No matter that the EPA already had just such a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility on another floor of the EPA building. “Cabinet-level officials need to have access to secure communications,” the then-administrator said in testimony before Congress last December. “It’s necessary for me to be able to do my job.” Maybe not? The Washington Post reported a delicious footnote to the Pruitt era Monday via litigation filed by the Sierra Club that found Pruitt made just one single outgoing call from his prized phone booth, for five minutes. That’s nearly $9,000 a minute for those of you counting at home.