According to four sources familiar with the work environment at the Environmental Protection Agency, its scandal-plagued EPA administrator has regularly sent his subordinates out during the workday to pick up his favorite snacks and treats. Pruitt has been known to send staffers on these errands at least twice a week, with some sources describing his demands as “constant,” and others merely noting that he does this “frequently.”
“I can’t tell you how many times I was sent out to get protein bars on the orders of [Pruitt],” one person told The Daily Beast.
Beyond the protein bars, Pruitt also has a well-known sweet tooth, and often tells staffers to make a grocery run to get his preferred sweets, cookies, and Greek yogurt, among other items, sources say.
Pruitt’s tastes in snacks are rather refined, according to former aides. He is particularly fond of finger food from the upscale eatery Dean & Deluca, according to a former EPA official. Pruitt is also particular about his coffee tastes, the former official said, and would often direct an aide to brew him pour-over coffee, which he prefers to more run-of-the-mill brewing methods.
An agency spokesperson declined to comment directly on this story. “EPA will not be commenting on anonymous sources who are working to distract Americans from Administrator Pruitt’s accomplishments on regulatory certainty and environmental stewardship,” the spokesperson told The Daily Beast in an emailed statement.
Pruitt’s use of official resources to run personal errands is just the latest in a long string of controversies that have dogged his tenure as the nation’s top environmental regulator. On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that Pruitt has also tasked his security detail with personal tasks such as picking up his dry cleaning and fetching him hand lotion that is apparently available only at Ritz Carlton hotels.
Also this week, emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the Sierra Club, an environmentalist group, showed a top Pruitt aide seeking a used mattress for the administrator from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, and inquiring about the purchase of a Chick-fil-A franchise on Pruitt’s wife's behalf. That aide, Millan Hupp, resigned this week.
Such practices have drawn the ire of ethics watchdogs, who balk at top government official using his official staff to run these types of personal errands. Stories like this one, however, are nothing new for Donald Trump’s EPA administrator, who has managed to survive intense scrutiny of his spending on first class airfare, and his one-time accommodations in a Capitol Hill house owned by the wife of an energy lobbyist.
Nevertheless, Pruitt maintains the support of the president, at least publicly. But multiple current and former administration officials told The Daily Beast that morale on Pruitt’s staff is currently in the pits.
One source described the work environment as a “hell hole,” where many staffers, some of whom had been eyeing the exits for months, have now bolted, and several still remaining are quietly looking for other jobs. In addition to Hupp, Sarah Greenwalt, a senior counselor to Pruitt, resigned this week.
As Pruitt has become increasingly isolated in his position—with numerous White House senior officials, including Chief of Staff John Kelly, wishing him gone as soon as possible—multiple sources said that the EPA chief continues to share a familiar trait with his boss—a refusal to say, “I’m sorry.”
In the months since the deluge of negative news stories and revelations began, sources familiar all told The Daily Beast that Pruitt hasn’t convened a meeting of staffers to apologize for what he has put them through, or thanked them for their work defending him publicly and privately.
In private conversations with groups of staffers, Pruitt is known to talk largely about himself.
“Narcissist,” one former administration official bluntly assessed.