Why does Pruitt need a new secure communications facility, a bullet-proof desk, bullet-proof seat covers, 4 different email addresses, and a massive cadre of armed bodyguards?— Lord Jack (@mrJackCalvert) April 17, 2018
This is behavior one would expect from the head of a drug cartel, not the director of the EPA. pic.twitter.com/Npqxglpdlm
There’s gotta be something off within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if President Donald Trump’s pick to head the agency is requesting vehicles with bulletproof seat covers.
But then again, it might just be the result of a the appointee’s "ego trip."
EPA administrator Scott Pruitt had requested the safety measures in May of last year when he also upgraded his official car from the Chevrolet Tahoe SUV to a high-end version of the Chevy Suburban.
The bulletproof covers were added to the car’s bucket seats as an additional security measure. But other additions weren’t necessarily security-related, such as GPS navigation, Wi-Fi, and leather interior. The extras cost the government $300 a month on top of what the switch cost taxpayers, which is $10,200 per year, or the vehicle's lease for one year.
Despite Pruitt requesting a new car, the lease on the old vehicle used by former EPA chief Gina McCarthy remains in place. Even though the vehicle, which costs more than $9,000 per year, is sitting unused at EPA, The Hill reports.
An unnamed source who talked to The Washington Post said that Pruitt decided to request a larger car because other Cabinet officials had larger vehicles. The source also added that the bullet-resistant covers are made of the same material used in bulletproof vests.
In a letter to the president, Democratic lawmakers Reps. Elijah Cumming, Gerald E. Connolly, and Donald S. Beyer Jr., as well as Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Thomas R. Carper said that notes from former EPA aide Kevin Chmielewski showed that the aide “provided several examples of wasteful security spending” within the agency. They included, “the purchase of bulletproof vests and weapons, biometric locks, a security sweep of your office, [and] one or more new SUVs for your travel."
The letter also said that Pruitt and others at the EPA retaliated against Chmielewski when the aide brought up objections to some of the requests.
When questioned about the bullet-resistant additions to the new vehicles, EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said that the agency does not have “bulletproof vehicles.” Still, Wilcox would not comment on the Suburban upgrade nor its reportedly new bulletproof seat covers.
“Security decisions are made by EPA’s Protective Service Detail and are similar to security protocol across the federal government," Wilcox said.
If there’s anything that is left for us to understand, it is exactly why Pruitt decided to add the bulletproof car seat covers to his new, larger vehicle. Is it perhaps that he thinks he might be in danger? Or is it that he thinks he’s important enough that taxpayers would not feel bad adding the extra layer of security to his detail?
We might never know.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque