Wasn’t that nice of us.
Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt isn’t exactly the most popular man in Washington these days. And it would appear he knows the value of protecting his behind; according to documents surfaced by the Washington Post, Pruitt upgraded his official government vehicle to a Chevrolet Suburban with bullet-resistant seat covers last year amidst a security spending binge.
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Former EPA administrators made due with a lowly Tahoe, but Pruitt opted to move up to the larger Suburban after a few months on the job reportedly because “it was similar to ones in which some other Cabinet officials rode,” an unnamed official told the newspaper. The Suburban LT—itself an upgrade over the usual LS models procured by the government—has a leather interior, navigation, and yes, “Kevlar-like seat covers” that most definitely aren’t a normal dealer option.
The one-year lease was signed last spring at a cost of $839 per month, which the government covered with a one-time payment of $10,200. All the while, the EPA has also maintained the lease on the former administrator’s Tahoe that Pruitt used at first, which costs $9,000 per year and now sits in a garage at the Washington, D.C. headquarters. And the Washington Post found out that Pruitt’s office just signed a third lease on a second Suburban, which cost taxpayers another 10 grand.
So, that’s nearly $30,000 a year for a fleet of Chevrolet SUVs—at least one of which has bullet-resistant seat covers, don’t forget. EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox told the Post that officials would look into the the lease overlap, but defended the security decisions as necessary.
“Security decisions are made by EPA’s Protective Service Detail and are similar to security protocol across the federal government,” he wrote in a statement to the paper.
The “Kevlar-like” covers reportedly cost hundreds of dollars to buy and install, an expense that was approved by Protective Service Detail head Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta. Other projects pushed by Perrotta, who has also been criticized for overspending, include the notorious $43,000 soundproof phone booth in Pruitt’s office and the first-class-only travel policy.