White House Reportedly Tells Pruitt To Lay Off Mess Hall Visits During Renovations
Trump officials are asking EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to ease back on his usage of the White House mess hall while renovations are being made, Politico reported Thursday, citing anonymous sources.
A member of the White House’s Cabinet affairs team told agency chiefs of staff in a meeting in 2017 that officials shouldn’t treat the restaurant as their personal dining hall, two people told Politico. It is unclear if the message was intended specifically for Pruitt or for all agency heads.
Politico’s report appears to suggest the former, as the outlet cited one source saying: “We love having Mr. Pruitt, but it’s not meant for everyday use.” The report also noted the restrictions were made to deal with limited seating in the mess hall, which is located next to the Situation Room in the basement of the West Wing.
A renovation to update the West Wing HVAC in August 2017 included the mess kitchen, which could have limited seating areas, one person told Politico. The renovation came after John Kelly took over as White House chief of staff.
Pruitt or people linked to him dined at the mess hall at least nine times in July 2017, according to a billing statement Politico cited in the report. Pruitt and other people he invited dined on dishes like “cowboy” skirt steak, popcorn chicken and waffles, among other dishes that fetch a high price at other eateries in Washington, D.C. (RELATED: Nearly Half Of America Is Completely Unaware Of Pruitt’s Recent Scandal)
The EPA has not responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment about the White House’s request for people to limit their usage of the mess hall.
Pruitt has faced far-ranging questions about his alleged ethical shortcomings. Democrats and members of the media have grilled him for allegedly paying $6,100 for a room in a condo owned by Vicki Hart, who is married to J. Steven Hart, an energy lobbyist who represents clients in industries regulated by the EPA. Payments to Hart came only on dates when the EPA administrator stayed in the room. Critics have also teed off on Pruitt’s flight expenses. (RELATED: A Senior EPA Official Explains Why Pruitt’s Testimony Probably Saved His Job)
Taxpayers funded at least $90,000 for Pruitt and his top aides to fly in June, which included first-class seats and a ride on a military jet, reports from The Washington Post, Politico and others in February showed. The flight upgrades were required due to an uptick in security threats Pruitt faced during his first year in office, the EPA maintains.