Scott Pruitt wanted to make the Environmental Protection Agency's souvenir coin a little more, well, Pruitt-y, The New York Times ​reported Wednesday.

The EPA's "challenge coin" -- a type of keepsake with military origins that many federal agencies give out to employees and guests -- features its logo, a four-leafed flower. But Pruitt advocated doing away with the logo, which he said looks like a marijuana leaf, one source told The Times. 

Instead, he reportedly proposed a variety of other designs more in keeping with his personality and biography. Beyond making the coin bigger, he is said to have pitched adding:

  • A buffalo, to represent his native Oklahoma. 

  • A Bible verse reflective of his Christian faith. (Ronald Slotkin, a career EPA employee who retired this year, told The Times he could not remember which verse Pruitt wanted.)

  • The Great Seal of the United States, which is similar to the presidential seal. 

  • His name around the rim of the coin in large letters. 

Pruitt made the suggestions last year during his first few months at the EPA, but faced opposition from staffers, The Times reported. An EPA spokesman said the agency never ordered challenge coins.


The leaks about Pruitt's vision for the EPA challenge coin are not damning in themselves. But they contribute to an unspooling narrative that he is in government more for self than country.

Pruitt has faced criticism for renting a condominium for $50 a night from the wife of a lobbyist with business before his agency and for expensing first-class travel, which he has said was necessary for security reasons.

“It gets worse every time there’s a report in the news,” said House Oversight Committee Chair Trey Gowdy, a Republican from South Carolina on Saturday. “I don’t have a lot of patience for that kind of stuff.”

But President Donald Trump has so far defended Pruitt, tweeting Saturday, "Scott is doing a great job!"

On Thursday, House and Senate Democrats sent two letters to Pruitt and the White House detailing alleged misconduct reported by a former EPA deputy chief of staff. Kevin Chmielewski, who also served as an aide Trump, said his former boss opted for unnecessarily opulent accommodations on international trips and pressured him to retroactively approve first-class travel for the administrator and one of his aides. 

Government watchdogs have launched numerous investigations, and more are being considered. ​​​Vox has a comprehensive list.