Scott Pruitt, a former head of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Trump administration, regularly asked his federal security detail to speed and use sirens and emergency lights because he was running late to meetings, according to a federal report released Thursday.
In one 2017 instance, a special agent drove Pruitt with the vehicle’s lights and sirens on through oncoming traffic. The administrator was running late for an agency meeting and needed to pick up his dry cleaning.
“Can you guys use that magic button to get us through traffic?” Pruitt said during another instance, according to an account in the report. Other accounts include Pruitt saying “speed it up” and “we need to get there quicker,” which created an awkward environment in his vehicles, the document says.
The report was prepared in June 2018, but only released this week. The New York Times was the first to report on the document.
The Times added that the agents knew using the sirens and emergency lights — which are only to be used in emergency situations — violated federal policies, but found it hard to disobey Pruitt, who regularly ran late to events and meetings.
A former aide to Pruitt described his requests to use the lights as “overly obnoxious, excessive and more dangerous to everyone.”
A special agent interviewed for the report said they went so far as to tell other agents to disable or unplug the lights and sirens “so they wouldn’t use them because the administrator will still instruct they be used, but the agent can say they don’t work.”
The EPA now mandates any violation of the agency’s siren policy be reported.
Pruitt resigned in July 2018 after a controversial tenure that featured a spate of ethics scandals and more than a dozen federal investigations. He was criticized for regularly spending thousands of dollars on first-class flights home to Oklahoma and improperly spending $43,000 in taxpayer money to build a soundproof phone booth inside his office.
The EPA ultimately found Pruitt spent almost $124,000 on “excessive” travel plans.
Details from Pruitt’s tenure are almost sure to come to light in the coming months after he filed to run as a Republican for the U.S. Senate. He’s vying for the seat held by longtime GOPer Sen. Jim Inhofe.