Kristin Mink is a middle school teacher at Washington DC’s prestigious Sidwell Friends, the school where Barack Obama sent his two daughters. She is also a mother. Earlier on Monday, Mink was eating lunch with her son at Teaism Penn Quarter, not far from EPA headquarters.
Scott Pruitt,the embattled head of the Enviromental Protection Agency, was having lunch in the same restaurant, at the same time. When she had finished eating, Mink picked up her toddler, marched over to Pruitt, and ordered him to resign. Mink had the presence of mind to record the whole interaction and post it on Facebook.
Mink, reached by telephone on Tuesday morning, told me that she felt “empowered” by recent high profile incidents like the one at the Red Hen restaurant, where the management ordered White House press secretary to leave. Mink said, “I didn’t consciously think about that, but having those in the back of my mind, but it did play a role in making me feel empowered, and made me realize that we have the power to bring about change.”
Mink said that she didn’t go to the restaurant seeking out Pruitt. She, her husband, and their son were having lunch there when suddenly her husband spotted Pruitt eating just a few tables away. That made Mink spring into action. She said, “As soon as my husband pointed out that he was there I knew I had to say something. I’m a teacher, and I am a mother, so I think about the future of the next generation, and Pruitt is directly responsible for that future.”
Since Pruitt’s resignation, Mink has gotten a lot of media attention and has used her Twitter account to go after Representative Jordan and President Trump, tweeting, for example, that she wants to know where Trump is having lunch.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Mink Told Pruitt that “We Deserve an EPA Chief Who Actually Does Protect Our Environment”
Mink presented her two year old to Pruitt and said, “This is my son. He loves animals and clean water.”
She added that Pruitt is slashing emissions regulations “for the benefit of big corporations” and is staying in the hotel of a company connected to the oil sands industry.
Mink, speaking from notes while her husband filmed, said, “we deserve to have somebody at the EPA who actually does protect our environment, somebody who believes in climate change and takes it seriously, for the benefit of all of us and our children.”
Pruitt remained silent throughout Mink’s lecture. When she first came up to him, he seemed to be trying to smile. But his smile froze as soon as she asked him to resign.
He appeared to have already finished his lunch. He leaned back in his chair and stared at Mink, as if waiting for her to finish speaking.
2. Mink Has Been Agitating Against the Trump Administration for Years Now
Shortly after Trump was elected president, Mink created a Facebook group she called, “What Now? (Moving Forward).” Mink told the Washington Post at the time, “I was so frozen afterward, and I felt like I was on the verge of tears all the time, it was such a feeling of hopelessness and impotence, I realized I needed to be doing something. I needed to feel like I could take an action every time that feeling came over me. I wanted to create a place where other people who felt the same way could come together.”
Her group raised funds to campaign against nationalist groups in Maryland, and to hang up signs on a local Silver Spring church that had been defaced by a nationalist group.
3. Mink Teaches At One of the Most Prestigious Middle Schools in DC
For the past year, Mink has been a middle school teacher at Sidwell Friends, where the Obamas sent their children. Many children of Washington DC’s elite attend Sidwell.
Before coming to Sidwell, Mink taught middle and high school math, English, and sexual health at a diverse alternative school in D.C. According to her LinkedIn profile, Mink “developed and taught progressive, research-based sexual health curriculums for middle and high school classes.”
Parkmont School offers a “nontraditional” approach to education which includes internships and real world experience. Tuition at this self-described “alternative” middle and high school is $35,800 per year.
4. Mink Has a Background in Marketing
Mink is a savvy social media user. She also has a solid background in marketing. She worked for nearly two years as a “community manager” for Yelp, where she was, according to her LinkedIn profile, responsible for “growing and engaging the DC area Yelp community online and offline”. She developed marketing campaigns, organized community events, and increased Yelp’s contributors by over 3700 daily users in 2012.
Prior to that, Mink was the marketing director and manager at a hair salon, Kindle and Boom.
5. Scott Pruitt Was Already Having a Terrible Day
Pruitt has been hit by charges left and right about his alleged corruption and lack of interest in the environment. This evening, a former EPA staffer turned whistleblower said that Pruitt and his staff kept a secret calendar, allegedly to hide controversial meetings from the public. The whistleblower, Kevin Chmielewski, told CNN that Pruitt would routinely hide events that “looked bad”, like meetings with coal producers and shipping magnates.
Also today, a Washington Post piece revealed that Pruitt tried to use his influence to get his wife a job earning $200,000 a year.
The new information came from former Pruitt aides who spoke to Congressional investigators. The aides also described times when Pruitt insisted on traveling either first class or by private jet, and times when he had staffers do personal tasks for him.