Published: Mon, April 16, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

EPA chief Scott Pruitt's $43000 soundproof booth broke law, GAO says

EPA chief Scott Pruitt's $43000 soundproof booth broke law, GAO says

Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are broadening their investigation into allegations of ethical misconduct by EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, as they seek interviews with five key agency aides. Included in that amount was a $36,000 military flight so Pruitt could join President Donald Trump at a Cincinnati event, then make it to NY in time for his flight to Rome.

The G.A.O. said it was not taking a position on whether or not the installation of the privacy booth was necessary, but was focusing only on whether the agency violated the Antideficiency Act, which is created to prevent the spending of money that has not been budgeted.

Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, who requested the investigation along with three other members of Congress, said Mr. Pruitt was "blatantly breaking laws and ethics rules that protect taxpayers from government waste, fraud and abuse in order to help himself to perks and special favors".

GAO determined that EPA's purchase of the booth violated federal law prohibiting agencies from spending more than $5,000 to make improvements to the offices of presidential appointees without informing Congress. The South Carolina Republican also demanded a long list of documents from EPA about Pruitt's travel spending and unprecedented security precautions.

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The Associated Press first reported in December that EPA also spent about $9,000 for an outside contractor to sweep Pruitt's office for secret listening devices and installed biometric locks.

The GAO had been asked to investigate the matter by Democratic lawmakers including U.S. Sens. "He has been a disaster, and it's past time for him to go".

Chmielewski said Pruitt insisted on staying at expensive hotels while traveling even if they exceeded allowable federal spending limits and told staff to book him on Delta Air Lines so he could accrue frequent flier miles.

Liz Bowman, an EPA spokeswoman, said the agency was "addressing GAO's concern, with regard to congressional notification about this expense, and will be sending Congress the necessary information this week". "EPA must give a full public accounting of this expenditure and explain why the agency thinks it was complying with the law".

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