Democrats on the House Oversight Committee released a letter Monday highlighting how a close aide to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt helped him secure housing and personal items.
The aide, Millan Hupp, acknowledged that one of the tasks was finding an “old mattress” for Pruitt from the Trump International Hotel, while she was on the clock.
“As I remember, the Administrator had spoken with someone at the Trump Hotel who had indicated that there could be a mattress that he could purchase, an old mattress that he could purchase,” Hupp said, according to a transcript of an interview with the committee included in the letter.
The Washington Post reported that Hupp was seeking a secondhand “Trump Home Luxury Plush Euro Pillow Top” mattress, but the manufacturer encourages sleepers to buy new. “You can have the fluffiest blanket and smoothest sheets, but if your mattress is past its prime, you’re just not getting the support you need for a quality night’s sleep,” according to a description on QVC.
This is not just bizarre; it’s also a potential violation of the federal laws that prohibit government officials from directing subordinates to perform personal tasks and bar employees from giving gifts to their bosses, committee members Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) have noted.
These are yet more potential legal or ethical breaches for Pruitt, who is already facing more than a dozen federal inquiries, audits, and investigations for his conduct and was found to have violated two laws with his secret $43,000 phone booth. We found out last month that Pruitt has set up a legal defense fund to help deal with these investigations.
In addition to the mattress, Hupp scouted housing for Pruitt in DC and booked personal travel for him, including a trip to the Rose Bowl. Recall that Hupp was also one of the aides that received a huge raise using a provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act to bypass the White House, which declined to grant the pay bump. Hupp received a raise of $28,1300, bringing her salary to $114,590.
Democrats see this as another vulnerability as they ramp up the campaign to “Boot Pruitt” out of office. In a budget hearing last month, Senate Democrats pressed Pruitt on whether he improperly asked Hupp to perform personal tasks for him on government time.
“It is my understanding that all activity there was on personal time,” Pruitt told Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM). “And the individual you are referring to is a close personal friend of my wife and myself, and to link any kind of review on a pay increase is simply not substantiated.”
The latest report involving the mattress is certainly not the first time Pruitt has blurred personal and professional relationships. The New York Times reported over the weekend on Pruitt’s close relationship with Joseph Craft III, a coal billionaire lobbying to lift regulations on the coal industry. Pruitt also rented a condo on Capitol Hill at the absurdly low rate of $50 a night from the wife of a lobbyist, J. Steven Hart, who in turn lobbied the EPA on behalf of clients including