EPA's Pruitt comes under closer scrutiny from GOP

Cheriss May  Zuma

Cheriss May Zuma

WASHINGTON-A $43,000 soundproof phone booth for Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt violated the law, a government oversight body said Monday, because the agency didn't notify Congress before making the purchase.

Between the EPA's inspector general and the Government Accountability Office, Pruitt faces at least five inquiries into his actions.

The GAO-which is the federal government's independent watchdog-also found that the EPA allocated the funds in a way that violated a second federal law, the Antideficiency Act.

The phone booth is technically called a SCIF, a sensitive compartmented information facility, and there are already two of these facilities located at the EPA Headquarters.

In addition, multiple EPA officials who raised concerns over Pruitt's spending at EPA have been sidelined or demoted, CNN reported. Thus, the booth was a practical addition to the administrator's office and did not violate the specific appropriations law provision since it was not "an aesthetic improvement" contemplated by that measure, according to the agency.

"EPA's statements place the privacy booth squarely within the meaning of "furnish", as the booth equipped the office with something that EPA asserts it needed".

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The auditors did not make a determination on the propriety of the soundproof booth purchase, even saying that had EPA notified Congress there would have been no issue with the spending. "EPA's failure to make the necessary notification is the only subject of this opinion". In prior interviews with Senate and House Democrats, Chmielewski said Pruitt routinely insisted on luxury travel and accommodations.

"I'd be shocked if that many people knew who Scott Pruitt was", Gowdy said on Fox News Sunday.

The panel is asking for interviews with EPA chief of staff Ryan Jackson, Chmielewski, Perrotta, the director of scheduling and advance Millan Hupp and Sarah Greenwalt, the senior counsel.

"With each passing day, Pruitt has created more headaches for Donald Trump with his mounting list of ethical and now legal violations".

"If you sit first class, you're guaranteed to come into contact with everybody else on the plane". EPA officials have said that various threats against Pruitt, including verbal public confrontations, led the head of his security detail to recommend that he fly in the front cabin of planes, both to provide a "buffer" from the public and also so that he could board and exit more quickly.

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