There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is apparently very fond of the heavily discounted midday meal at the swanky White House mess, open only to senior White House officials, Cabinet members, and a small group of other guests. He likes it so much, Politico reports, the White House asked him to lunch elsewhere every once in a while. (Like, say, Chick-fil-A?)
The White House told departmental chiefs of staff in a meeting last year that Cabinet members should avoid treating the mess as their personal dining hall, Politico says, and the obvious target of the gentle rebuke was Pruitt, a person close to the EPA chief said, paraphrasing the message: "We love having Mr. Pruitt, but it's not meant for everyday use." Washington, D.C., has lots of restaurants, and Pruitt's salary as EPA administrator is $210,700 a year — though, obviously, he likes a bargain.
"Pruitt's allies privately disputed that the warning about overuse of the mess was aimed squarely at him, but nobody contests that he's a frequent presence at the White House for lunch," Politico says. Pruitt complains that the EPA headquarters doesn't have a cafeteria and he doesn't have a private dining area, multiple sources tell Politico, and the White House is only a few blocks from his office (not that Pruitt walks, of course). Pruitt also apparently likes to bring guests with him, though those lunch dates do not appear on his public schedule. You can read more at Politico. Peter Weber