Gov. Accountability Office files violations against Pruitt for $43,000 secret phone booth in his office (Details)

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Last year, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt installed a $43,000 soundproof phone booth in his office. On Monday, in an eight-page filing to Congress, the Government Accountability Office said that this purchase violates federal spending laws.



GAO general counsel Thomas H. Armstrong told lawmakers that the EPA was supposed to notify Congress when spending more than $5,000 to furnish or redecorate the offices of agency heads. In this case, they failed to do so.

Additionally, Armstrong says that the EPA violated the federal anti-deficiency act, “because EPA obligated appropriated funds in a manner specifically prohibited by law.”

The EPA tried counterarguing that the phone booth was not a redecoration so it shouldn’t fall under the $5,000 cap.

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When asked, the agency did concede that there are other places in the building where Pruitt can make and receive secure phone calls.

The EPA, on behalf of Pruitt, also argued that this secretive phone booth is as necessary as a television, copier, or high-speed computer.

“EPA is addressing GAO’s concern, with regard to congressional notification about this expense, and will be sending Congress the necessary information this week,” said Liz Bowman, a spokeswoman for the EPA.

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), who chairs the Senate committee that oversees the EPA, released a statement on Monday. He is demanding an explanation.



“It is critical that EPA and all federal agencies comply with notification requirements to Congress before spending tax payer dollars,” said Barrasso. “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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