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Toyota offered to give Pruitt test drive in new Lexus: report

Toyota offered to give Pruitt test drive in new Lexus: report
© Greg Nash

Emails exchanged between a representative for Toyota and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show that the auto company offered Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittMajor unions back Fudge for Agriculture secretary Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight Democratic lawmaker calls for DOJ investigation of entire Trump administration MORE a private test drive of a new Lexus model, ABC News reported on Friday.

The report notes that there is no evidence that the private test drive ever took place. But the emails could prove controversial due to the fact that the EPA helps regulate the automotive industry. 

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Millan Hupp, a top aide for Pruitt who resigned this week, and a representative for Toyota communicated with each other via email in 2017 after Pruitt visited a Toyota office in Plano, Texas. Pruitt reportedly took an interest in the Lexus LC500, and Toyota followed up multiple times to see if Pruitt would be interested in a test drive. 

"Just today, we took delivery of a brand new Lexus LC500 (the same car we showed him in the parking garage)," Tom Stricker, a vice president in Toyota's product regulatory affairs division, wrote in August 2017, per emails obtained by ABC. "Is there a good day in the next week or so for the Administrator to go for a lunchtime drive?"

Sierra Club first obtained the emails after filing a public records request and a lawsuit. The environmental group's senior director of federal policy, John Coequyt, said in a statement to ABC that Pruitt is apparently incapable of "saying no to corporate lobbyists."

"Pruitt has become both a caricature and the example par excellence of incompetence, corruption, and petty grifting, and it's past time for him to resign," Coequyt said. 

In December 2017, Pruitt said that the EPA would partner with Toyota to reform management at the agency. But due to pushback, Toyota backed out of negotiations.

ABC News reports that the automaker has spent more than $7 million in lobbying since President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE took office. 

The email correspondence between the EPA and Toyota is part of a litany of scandals Pruitt has been caught up in since taking over as administrator of the EPA.

It was reported earlier this week that Pruitt used his position to help find his wife a "business opportunity" at the fast-food chain Chick-fil-A. And on Thursday, a new report showed that Pruitt used his security detail to run mundane errands, such as searching for his favorite lotion at Ritz Carlton Hotels.  

Pruitt has been accused of myriad abuses of taxpayer funding, including on travel and office expenses.

Hupp was one of two top Pruitt aides to resign this week. She tendered her resignation after congressional Democrats disclosed transcripts of an interview in which she said Pruitt assigned her numerous personal tasks.