US Watchdog Attacks $43000 Bill for Official's Soundproof Booth

17 April, 2018, 18:39 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • EPA Broke The Law When It Spent $43000 On A New Phone Booth For Scott Pruitt, Government Watchdog Says

Scott Pruitt blew past the law that says agency heads can't spend more than $5,000 to furnish, redecorate or make improvements to their offices without Congressional approval, according to the Government Accountability Office, The Washington Post reported.

The EPA claimed that the soundproof booth - like that used by bumbling spy Maxwell Smart from the 60's sitcom and 2008 flick "Get Smart" starring Steve Carrell - was not part of the redecoration of Pruitt's office so the $5,000 cap didn't apply.

In its report, the GAO explicitly said it drew "no conclusions" about whether or not the privacy booth was necessary for secure communications.

Though Congressional notification was the only subject of the brief, GAO also remarked that EPA already has two Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIFs)-installations through which classified information can be shared.

The privacy booth, the EPA argued, was "analogous to other functional items an employee might require to perform his job duties such as a high speed computer, high speed copier/scanner, or television".

In its explanation to the GAO included in the report, the EPA equated the booth to other necessary office supplies and argued it was needed to "support specific mission requirements" and allow Pruitt to carry out agency business "without concern that classified, deliberative, privileged, or sensitive information might inadvertently be disclosed to those who are not meant to receive such information".

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EPA chief Scott Pruitt's ethics problems keep piling up. The lawmakers had requested the GAO review. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and Reps.

Pruitt is one of President Donald Trump's most controversial appointments and has done what he said he would when Trump named him to oversee the country's environmental regulations - dismantle numerous restrictive policies on the environmental practices of businesses imposed by the administration of former President Barack Obama.

"An illegal privacy booth to conduct secret discussions with his polluter friends does nothing to help our health or environment", Udall said Monday.

Republicans also expressed concerns in response to the GAO ruling released today. Last week, a group of House and Senate Democrats published a detailed list of allegations suggesting mismanagement and lavish spending by Pruitt and his office. "EPA must give a full public accounting of this expenditure and explain why the agency thinks it was complying with the law".

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

"EPA was required to notify the appropriations committees of its proposed obligation", the legal opinion stated.

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