EPA's Pruitt comes under closer scrutiny from GOP

Gov't Accountability Office Says Pruitt's $43000 Phone Booth Was Illegal

An internal government watchdog says the Environmental Protection Agency violated federal spending laws when purchasing a $43,000 soundproof privacy booth for Administrator Scott Pruitt to make private phone calls in his office.

"Because EPA obligated appropriated funds in a manner specifically prohibited by law, we conclude that EPA violated the Antideficiency Act", the GAO said in its report.

The GAO rejected the EPA's justification, calling it "inconsistent with the plain reading" of the federal law.

Gowdy is also seeking documents from the EPA on the changes previous year to round-the-clock security protection for Pruitt, contracts to sweep Pruitt's office for electronic surveillance, his trips to Italy and Morocco, and travel by Pruitt's security chief.

"GAO recognizes the requirement to protect classified material and draws no conclusions regarding whether the installation of the privacy booth was the only, or the best way for EPA to provide a secure telephone line for the Administrator".

"These circumstances include, but are not limited to, situations when the '[use] of coach-class accommodations would endanger [one's] life or Government property" or an agent on protective detail is "accompanying an individual authorized to use other than coach-class accommodations, '" EPA Associate Administrator Troy Lyons wrote in a letter to Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

They also inquired about a lease for a bedroom in a Capitol Hill condominium that Pruitt rented in 2017.

EPA chief Scott Pruitt's ethics problems keep piling up.

Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico, who requested the GAO review, said the finding was yet another example of the embattled EPA administrator flouting federal spending rules.

Republicans also criticized Pruitt after the latest round of ethical violations. "He must fire him immediately", said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. 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.

While the agency did turn over documents last month detailing almost $68,000 in previously undisclosed travel costs for Pruitt during the seven months leading up to February, Gowdy said EPA officials have failed to produce the security waivers that Pruitt used to justify his purchase of premium tickets at taxpayer expense.

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