Add this etiquette violation to the long list of things Scott Pruitt can’t get right. The Environmental Protection Agency chief is under more than a dozen ethical investigations covering travel expenses, lobbying rules, housing arrangements, mattress purchases, and most recently, enlisting an EPA aide to get his wife a Chick-fil-A franchise. And apparently, through it all, he’s been dining at the White House Mess too much, Politico reports.
In a meeting last year, the White House’s Cabinet affairs team told agency chiefs of staff that Cabinet members should not treat the Navy-run restaurant as their personal dining hall. And although Pruitt wasn’t called out specifically in the warning, Politico’s sources agreed that he was a consistent presence at the White House for lunch. A Politico source said the message was essentially: “We love having Mr. Pruitt, but it’s not meant for everyday use.”
The restaurant, located next to the Situation Room in the West Wing, is available to White House officials, Cabinet members, and other dignitaries. According to a billing statement from July 2017, Pruitt or people associated with Pruitt ate at the Mess at least nine times, racking up a $400 bill of dishes like “cowboy” skirt steak, popcorn chicken and waffles, spinach strawberry salad, and beer-braised brisket tacos.
According to Politico’s sources, Pruitt complained that EPA headquarters didn’t have its own cafeteria. It’s also hard to find better prices in Washington: At the Mess, a skirt steak costs just $10.25 and a cheeseburger $6.35.
The rebuke hasn’t stopped Pruitt from eating lunch at the White House. Politico reports that one source said EPA officials called the White House to explain that Pruitt didn’t have a place to eat at the EPA and would like to please continue to eat at the Mess. Without a Chick-fil-A franchise in the family, what else is a beleaguered EPA chief to do?