GAO: Cost Of EPA Chief's Phone Booth Broke The Law

House panel asks Pruitt for documents, interviews with top aides

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is expanding an investigation into alleged ethical and spending abuses by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.

The request also comes amid intensifying scrutiny of Perrotta, the former Secret Service agent at the epicenter of most decisions to boost spending on security at the EPA, including around-the-clock bodyguards for Pruitt and biometric locks in his office. The Government Accountability Office says any amount over $5,000 required notification of the Appropriations Committees in Congress. Because EPA used federal money in a manner specifically prohibited by law, Armstrong said the agency also violated the Antideficiency Act, and is legally obligated to report that violation to Congress.

In addition, Gowdy wrote that the EPA "has failed to produce all the documents" he requested in February related to Pruitt's frequent first- and business-class flights, which The Washington Post had reported about in detail days earlier. The only question, therefore, was whether the booth installation met the definition of using funds to "furnish, redecorate, purchase furniture for or make improvements for" the administrator's office.

EPA spent about $25,000 on the privacy booth and an additional $18,000 on costs associated with modifying a storage closet connected to Pruitt's office to accommodate it. In its report, the GAO explicitly said it drew "no conclusions" about whether or not the privacy booth was necessary for secure communications.

Back in December, Pruitt told the House Energy and Commerce Committee he needed the equipment to conduct secure conversations with White House officials.

Pruitt's continued leadership of the environmental agency has been under fire since the revelation two weeks ago that he lived in a bargain-priced Capitol Hill condo tied to a fossil fuels lobbyist.

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EPA chief Scott Pruitt's ethics problems keep piling up. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), ranking member on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees EPA.

"These are operated by EPA sub-organizations and are located three floors away from the Administrator's office", the comptroller said in a footnote.

"It is critical that EPA and all federal agencies comply with notification requirements to Congress before spending taxpayer dollars".

Gowdy's committee is investigating Pruitt's spending and is seeking interviews with five of his top aides.

EPA in the past has run up against GAO legal opinions.

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