In an administration that has seen quite a few of controversies, Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA is perhaps one of its most recognizable figures. One can certainly spend a good chunk of time unpacking his policy scandals; which range from proposing that the EPA be run with less science to allowing a pesticide that is harmful to children’s brains to remain legal. However, at a smaller scale, Pruitt has also been accused of misusing government funds.
Mr. Pruitt has a 24-hour security detail, the expense of which is paid by taxpayer dollars. According to Racked, in 2017, the detail cost 3.5 million dollars in taxpayer money. Strangely enough, Vox reports that this is nearly triple the amount spent by those in the position before him. The latest news then, is not surprising; Pruitt supposedly uses his bodyguards to help him find a moisturizer that is only sold by the Ritz-Carlton.
The reported moisturizer is scented with ylang-ylang and bergamot and is priced anywhere between $27. 20-$32. An article in the Washington Post states:
“While EPA agents are required to protect Pruitt at all times – while he is working and during his off hours – the two individuals said the administrator had asked members of the detail to perform tasks that go beyond their primary function. In one instance, they said, he directed agents to drive him to multiple locations in search of a particular lotion offered at Ritz-Carlton hotels.”
The issue here is not the pricey moisturizer. Whatever Mr. Pruitt uses to moisturize is completely up to him, so long as he procures it on his own time and money. He should not be using his taxpayer-funded security detail to run his personal errands. Numerous outlets, such as the New Yorker and Vox, have analyzed commentary that suggests this proclivity is somehow feminine; something that some view as a direct contradiction with the rigid “macho” image of the Trump administration. Still, it should be said that many people, of any gender, do cultivate and follow a skin care regimen. The issue with Mr. Pruitt’s case is that the particularities of his skin care habits should not infringe on the pocket of the American people.
His use of the security detail only becomes more perplexing when one realizes that you can actually buy the lotion online. Or in, his case, call the hotel in advance.
This is not the first time the head of the EPA has been caught using government funds to pay for his luxurious tastes. He has reportedly sent out his security detail to pick up his dry cleaning, as well as insisting on traveling first-class on the government dime. This pattern seems to point to a worrying pattern of spending abuses.
Senator Thomas R. Carper, the top Democrat of the Environment and Public Works Committee called for Pruitt to step down, stating: “Americans deserve an EPA administrator who will work to carry out the agency’s mission to protect the public’s health and our environment. Instead, Mr. Pruitt is using this critical agency to do his personal bidding on the taxpayers’ dime. Americans are fed up. Enough is enough.”