PALM SPRINGS — The Trump Administration has been pockmarked by senior officials who have been spending taxpayers’ money extravagantly – and get away with it, Democratic Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D., said.


U.S. Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D.

“I do think that there’s been a … lack of oversight on the Trump Administration across the board by Republicans who have basically turned a blind eye on some of the serious problems with lavish spending of taxpayer funds,” Ruiz told Uken Report in a telephone interview from his Washington, D.C., office.

Fortune has compiled a laundry list that speaks to the Congressman’s concern.

Consider Scott Pruitt, former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to The Hill, Pruitt spent at least $9,600 on office decor in May, including for art frames and refurbishing a desk. Nearly $2,000 of this went to labor and delivery charges for three paintings rented from the Smithsonian Institute. The other bills, all exceeding $2,000, went toward buying a new standing desk, refurbishing an older desk, and framing like a photo of Pruitt with Trump, and another of the American flag.

Although the private phone booth for Pruitt’s office originally cost $10,000, the final bill came to $43,000 because of additional soundproofing, Money reported. Pruitt also spent $9,000 sweeping his office to ensure there were no hidden listening devices and for installing biometric locks.

Fortune reported that Pruitt purchased personalized pens and journals that cost $3,230, claiming they were meant as gifts for dignitaries. Just 12 pens, engraved with the EPA seal and Pruitt’s signature, cost $1,560. Other items included leather-bound journals, fountain pens, and stationery.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spent nearly $1 million on seven military aircraft trips between the spring and fall of 2017, according to documents gathered by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s office spent nearly $139,000 to renovate three sets of office doors allegedly in need of repair, the Associated Press reported.

That’s just a snapshot of the luxurious spending in the Trump Administration — all with little to oversight by a Republican-controlled House and Senate.

Now with Democrats in control of the U.S. House of Representatives, there will be stricter accountability, Ruiz suggested.

“There is a strong sense amongst the Democratic Caucus to start a strong focus on policy,” Ruiz said. “That’s why our very first bill that we are working on currently is HR1, the anti-corruption and ethics package that we need to institute. A couple of my bills are being selected to get on that big package.”

One is, of course, the do-not-use taxpayer funds for first-class fights for members of Congress, which he campaigned on.

Another bill being considered, Ruiz said, is one to ensure that elected officials don’t use taxpayer dollars on their business or their immediate family’s businesses.

“Public servants need to focus on serving the public and not their own profit,” Ruiz said. “That’s what the Democrats are working on right now.”

Beyond Republicans wearing blinders when it comes to spending in the Trump Administration, Ruiz there are other areas of concern for Democrats.

“(There has also been) some laxity implementing the Affordable Care Act, for example, that has hurt the insurance market and people’s ability to get healthcare,” Ruiz said.

When the 116th Congress convenes on Jan. 3, 2019, the Democrats will have their work cut out for them.

“We need to have bipartisan wins to stabilize the health insurance markets and reduce the cost of health care, specifically the cost of medications,” Ruiz said. “We need to put people back to work with livable wages through infrastructure development. We also need to fight to protect the integrity of our democratic institutions and fight corruption in Washington, D.C. These are going to be parallel agendas that we need to address.”

Ruiz is no stranger to working in a bipartisan fashion. Earlier this year, Ruiz was one of four federal legislators who received The Bipartisan Policy Center’s 2018 Legislative Action Awards. He was the only Democrat to receive the award.

Others to receive the award were: Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Angus King (I-ME), and Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN).

The awards are presented annually to members of Congress within their first six years in office who work to build consensus, elevate the tenor of the debate, practice civility, and advance legislation on pressing issues.

The Bipartisan Policy Center is a non-profit organization that combines the best ideas from both parties to promote health, security, and opportunity for all Americans.