EPA's Pruitt told aide to obtain 'old mattress' from Trump hotel
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt instructed an aide to seek a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel and help him hunt for a new apartment, according to testimony contained in a letter released by House Democrats Monday.
Ranking Democratic Reps. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Gerry Connolly of Virginia, in the letter addressed to House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., accused Pruitt of "multiple abuses of authority" for using agency aides to complete personal tasks, which is prohibited under federal ethics rules.
The allegations stem from an interview the committee conducted on May 18 with Millan Hupp, who serves as Pruitt's director of scheduling and advance. According to partial transcripts from her interview included in the Democratic lawmakers' letter, Hupp said that during the summer of 2017, Pruitt tasked her with scouting apartments for him in Washington and with getting a mattress from President Donald Trump's luxury hotel.
During work hours, she said, she reached out to D.C. realtors about rental properties for Pruitt and his wife, working unpaid for more than several hours a week over the course of several months and touring at least 10 properties.
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During that same time, Hupp said, Pruitt also asked her to reach out the managing director of the Trump International Hotel in Washington to discuss the possibility of purchasing an "old mattress." Hupp used her work computer and email to coordinate the request around the time Pruitt was moving, but told congressional investigators that she was not sure if he ended up purchasing the mattress.
"If Ms. Hupp's statements to the Committee are accurate, Administrator Pruitt crossed a very clear line and must be held accountable," Cummings and Connolly wrote.
Pruitt has been under intense scrutiny over the past several months for a barrage of reports of ethical lapses and excessive spending, which include lavish trips, first-class travel, pricey office purchases (such as a $43,000 phone booth), receiving a sweetheart deal on a Capitol Hill condo rental tied to a lobbyist with business before the EPA, inflating the salaries of favored aides, and retaliation against staffers who questioned him.
President Donald Trump has continued to stand by Pruitt.
Hupp, who described Pruitt as a close friend, also told investigators that she used Pruitt's credit card to book personal flights, including a trip to the Rose Bowl around Christmas. She said she used her personal computer to book the trip while she was on vacation, but used her work email to share details about the trip with his security team.
Hupp, who worked with Pruitt when he was the Oklahoma attorney general, was one of the two aides who had received a large salary bump in spite of the White House declining to approve Pruitt's request.
After news reports highlighted the large sums, Pruitt said the raises "should not have happened" and both were reversed.