EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reassigned or demoted at least five high-ranking officials who questioned his spending and other leadership decisions — including the purchase of pricey office furniture and Pruitt’s desire to use sirens to cut through D.C. traffic — according to a New York Times report Thursday afternoon. Four of the officials were career staff and one was a political appointee.
The Times reports that the political appointee, Kevin Chmielewski, was put on administrative leave without pay after Chmielewski raised concerns about Pruitt’s behavior with the White House’s presidential personnel office.
Additionally, Chmielewski and three of the career staffers are reported to have confronted Pruitt directly about his use of taxpayer dollars — particularly, a proposal to buy a $100,000-a-month charter aircraft membership that was eventually scuttled, and an effort to shell out $70,000 to replace two desks in Pruitt’s office.
The sidelined officials also incurred Pruitt’s ire by pushing back on his desire to use sirens in his motorcade in non-emergency situations, including en route to dinner at the chic restaurant Le Diplomate, and were hesitant to approve his frequent first-class and charter flights, his unprecedented 20-member security team, and his request for a bulletproof sport utility vehicle.