GAO: Pruitt's Pricey Privacy Booth Violated Federal Law

EPA Broke The Law When It Spent $43000 On A New Phone Booth For Scott Pruitt, Government Watchdog Says

As pressure on EPA chief Scott Pruitt to resign mounts amid his ever-growing list of scandals, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded on Monday that the $43,000 soundproof phone booth Pruitt had installed in his office a year ago at the taxpayer's expense violated federal spending laws.

"EPA violated section 710 of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2017 when it failed to notify the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and Senate prior to obligating in excess of $5,000 to install a soundproof privacy booth for the office of the Administrator during his period of appointment".

Pruitt gave no such heads-up before spending more than $43,000 on the "soundproof privacy booth".

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EPA justified the $43,238 expenditure for the soundproof booth, saying Pruitt needed space where he could use a "classified telephone" so he could have private conversations about agency business.

The EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the OIG's "management alert", which made no conclusions about the hiring, EPA Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson used an obscure provision in the statute to authorize significant salary raises for certain EPA employees after the White House had refused to approve the increases.

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According to EPA, the booth "not only enables the Administrator to make and receive phone calls to discuss sensitive information, but it also enables him to use this area to make and receive classified telephone calls (up to the top secret level) for the objective of conducting agency business".

Gowdy on Friday sent a letter to Pruitt requesting more documents relating to his travel and his controversial housing situation. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and Reps. "An illegal privacy booth to conduct secret discussions with his polluter friends does nothing to help our health or environment", said Sen.

Pruitt is one of President Donald Trump's most controversial appointments and has done what he said he would when Trump named him to oversee the country's environmental regulations - dismantle numerous restrictive policies on the environmental practices of businesses imposed by the administration of former President Barack Obama.

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"It is critical that EPA and all federal agencies comply with notification requirements to Congress before spending tax payer dollars", Senator John Barrasso, a Republican, said in a statement. Trump's EPA ended up violating two laws in the process, according to a new report by the US Government Accountability Office that was obtained by BuzzFeed News. EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said the agency "will be sending Congress the necessary information this week".

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