Email chal­lenges Pruitt’s ac­count of mo­tor­cades

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - WEATHER DESK -

WASH­ING­TON — Law­mak­ers at a Se­nate hear­ing Wed­nes­day ham­mered EPA Ad­min­is­tra­tor Scott Pruitt with their tough­est ques­tion­ing to date amid fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tions on his spend­ing, body­guards and ties with a lob­by­ist. The ex­changes in­volved a newly re­leased in­ter­nal email that ap­peared to con­tra­dict Pruitt.

Ap­pear­ing be­fore a Se­nate ap­pro­pri­a­tions sub­com­mit­tee, Pruitt redi­rected re­spon­si­bil­ity for al­leged eth­i­cal mis­steps that have prompted about a dozen in­ves­ti­ga­tions, in­clud­ing ones by Con­gress, the EPA’s in­spec­tor gen­eral, the Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­abil­ity Office and the Office of Man­age­ment and Bud­get.

He stuck to his prac­tice in pre­vi­ous hear­ings of shift­ing blame to sub­or­di­nates at the EPA, in­clud­ing its se­cu­rity agents and pub­lic af­fairs work­ers.

Sen. Tom Udall of New Mex­ico, the panel’s top Demo­crat and a former state at­tor­ney gen­eral like Pruitt, led Democrats’ ques­tion­ing. Udall asked Pruitt about news re­ports that the agency head liked his mo­tor­cade to switch on lights and sirens to cut through traf­fic. “I don’t re­call that hap­pen­ing,” Pruitt said, when asked re­peat­edly by Udall if he had or­dered lights and sirens. “There are poli­cies that agen­cies fol­low. The agency has fol­lowed the pol­icy to the best of my knowl­edge. No, I don’t re­call.”

Udall then dis­closed an in­ter­nal email in­di­cat­ing that Pruitt did know.

The email, writ­ten by then-EPA spe­cial agent Pasquale “Nino” Per­rotta just days af­ter Pruitt’s con­fir­ma­tion in Fe­bru­ary 2017, has the sub­ject line “Lights and Sirens.” It added “Btw — Ad­min­is­tra­tor en­cour­ages the use.”

Pruitt later pro­moted Per­rotta to lead his round-the-clock per­sonal pro­tec­tive de­tail. Former EPA of­fi­cials have told The As­so­ci­ated Press that Pruitt made the change af­ter Per­rotta’s pre­de­ces­sor re­fused to use lights and sirens in non-emer­gen­cies.


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