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 PruittTrump flails as audience dwindles and ratings plummet OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats chart course to 'solving the climate crisis' by 2050 | Commerce Department led 'flawed process' on Sharpiegate, watchdog finds | EPA to end policy suspending pollution monitoring by end of summer Watchdog: EPA hasn't provided 'sufficient justification' for decision not to recover Pruitt travel spending 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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

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 TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' 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.