The Pruitt "scandal" watch continues: Lunchgate

Shark (jumping) Week continues as the media attempts to generate a new “scandal” about EPA Cheif Scott Pruitt on a near-daily basis. Yesterday we saw the unveiling of Mattressgate, over the attempted purchase of a used mattress from a hotel. Today the scandal cup truly runneth over.

Get ready for… Lunchgate. (Politico)

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt loves eating at the White House mess, an exclusive U.S. Navy-run restaurant open only to White House officials, Cabinet members and other dignitaries.

But apparently he liked it too much, and the White House asked him to please eat elsewhere sometimes.

In response to Pruitt’s recurring use of the restaurant next to the Situation Room in the basement of the West Wing, a member of the White House’s Cabinet affairs team told agency chiefs of staff in a meeting last year that Cabinet members shouldn’t treat the mess as their personal dining hall, according to three people with knowledge of the issue.

That’s right. A dining facility in the White House which is specifically designated for “White House officials, Cabinet members and other dignitaries” was visited regularly by Scott Pruitt and occasional guests. I’m not sure if anyone has checked yet, but Pruitt actually is a Cabinet member. It is also noted in the fine print that Pruitt’s EPA offices a couple of blocks down the street from the White House don’t have any sort of cafeteria. But let’s leave those inconvenient facts aside for a moment and concentrate on the specifics of the charges in this “scandal.”

The press has a billing statement obtained through a Sierra Club Freedom of Information Act request listing occasions where Pruit “or people linked to him” dined at the White House facility nine times in the month of July last year. Further, the FOIA produced details from Pruitt’s schedule which failed to reflect a lunch meeting at the White House mess with a visitor from Oklahoma, though an email indicated that the visitor should meet him to go to lunch there.

Let’s just unpack this for a moment. The media is using various FOIA requests to pore through Pruitt’s lunch receipts to see how often he ate there. Time is being invested to match up those dates with his emails which mention having lunch guests there. And all for what? To confirm that he sometimes had lunch at a facility which is specifically reserved for White House officials and Cabinet members like him?

Yes, folks. That’s Lunchgate in a few sentences.

We should be learning more in the near future if any of the recent “gates” have any meat on the bone. Pruitt’s aide, Millan Hupp, has turned in her resignation. She claims that she’s been “thrown under the bus” and is tired of seeing her name in the news every day. If she truly felt put upon for the chores she undertook on Pruitt’s behalf we should learn it soon enough, but that’s not the impression she gave previously.

So what does the President think about all this? He’s standing by his guy. (The Hill)

“EPA is doing really, really well,” Trump said at an event at Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters attended by Pruitt. “Somebody has to say that about you a little bit, you know that, Scott.”

Shall we start taking guesses as to what tomorrow’s “scandal” will be? My money is on the EPA office offering Earl Grey tea (which is British, you know) instead of an American brand like Lipton. (Yes, I know the original Sir Lipton was from Glasgow, but the company is headquartered in New Jersey.)