Bulletproof vests were put over seats in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s government SUV after a gunman opened fire on a Republican baseball practice in 2017, according to an agency official.
EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox rebutted reports the agency purchased bulletproof tires and seat covers for the SUV leased to shuttle Pruitt around D.C. Pruitt leased a Chevy Suburban for $10,200, eschewing the Chevy Tahoe leased by his Obama administration predecessor.
The Washington Post reported Pruitt’s head of security, Pasquale Perrotta, “approved the addition of Kevlar-like seat coverings to the vehicle at a cost of hundreds of dollars, according to one official.”
However, Perrotta added the seat covers after the June 2017 shooting, Wilcox said, but at no cost to the agency. The bulletproof seat covers were actually bulletproof vests Pruitt’s security detail already had on hand and not purchased.
“In response to an individual attempting to assassinate numerous Congressional Republicans while they practiced for a charity baseball game, EPA’s Protective Service Detail placed bullet-proof vests over each seat,” Wilcox said in an emailed statement.
The vests were added after a lone gunman opened fire on Republican lawmakers practicing for the annual congressional baseball game to raise money for charity.
The gunman, left-wing activist James Hodgkinson, shot and wounded Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise and three others. Hodgkinson was shot by police after a 10-minute shoot-out and later died in the hospital.
Pruitt is under fire from lawmakers for alleged excessive spending and ethical lapses, and reported upgrades to the government SUV have only added to calls for his removal or resignation.
It is abundantly clear that Scott Pruitt has abused the public trust by using his government position to finance his lavish lifestyle & likely violated ethics rules. He must resign or be fired immediately→ https://t.co/pz9KzDoX2n pic.twitter.com/jk2R2jZ36D
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) April 18, 2018
Previously, The New York Times reported Pruitt sidelined at least five EPA officials who questioned his spending habits, including “for a bulletproof vehicle and an expanded 20-person protective detail.”
One of those officials, Kevin Chmielewski, has since come forward with more allegations against Pruitt. Democratic lawmakers used Chmielewski’s testimony as the basis for expanding their investigation into Pruitt’s actions.
EPA never ordered a bulletproof vehicle, Wilcox said. Further, Pruitt has faced an “unprecedented” number of threats against his life, Wilcox said.
CBS News recently published a list of threats against Pruitt investigated by the Office of Inspector General. Threats ranged in severity, but many were serious enough to investigate.
“EPA has no bulletproof vehicles, tires or seat covers, the agency has no contracts for any bulletproof vehicles, tires or seat covers, and the Agency never sought any contracts for bulletproof vehicles, tires or seat covers,” Wilcox said.
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