EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said the pens were similar to purchases made by Pruitt’s predecessors “for the purpose of serving as gifts to the Administrator’s foreign counterparts and dignitaries upon his meeting with them.”
Purchasing records show the EPA under the Obama administration made a $2,952 purchase from the same shop in 2009 for “non-monetary awards for Administrator.”
The purchase stands out not only for the cost but also because it was approved by a close aide who Pruitt described in congressional testimony last month as “longtime friend.”
Pruitt has sought to distance from the agency’s controversial spending, including a $43,000 phone booth in his office. He has recently blamed some purchases on “decisions made by career staff,” as he told the Washington Free Beacon
, a conservative publication, this week.
Pruitt’s actions are currently under scrutiny by investigators at the EPA inspector general, the Government Accountability Office and Congress. At least 12 investigations have been opened.
Other emails released by the agency and obtained by the Sierra Club show the same aide working on Pruitt’s apartment search during work hours
. In her first year on the job at EPA, she received two raises that boosted her pay by 72%.
The pen purchase was first reported by The Washington Post.