Scott Pruitt's $43,000 'Privacy Booth' Violates Spending Law, According to a Federal Watchdog - Pacific Standard

Scott Pruitt's $43,000 'Privacy Booth' Violates Spending Law, According to a Federal Watchdog

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The Environmental Protection Agency illegally approved to pay for a secure soundproof booth in Administrator Scott Pruitt's personal office, a federal watchdog reported Monday.

The Government Accountability Office found that the EPA spent a total of approximately $43,000 on a "privacy booth," violating the agency's redecoration spending cap of $5,000, according to a report published Monday.

The EPA has argued in the past that the privacy booth "does not constitute an aesthetic improvement," and that the EPA did not violate the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, which mandates a spending cap of $5,000.

According to EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman, the GAO report "recognized the ... need for employees to have access to a secure telephone line" when handling sensitive information.

Many Democratic lawmakers expressed outrage at the GAO's findings. Representative Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota) said in a letter summarized by the GAO in its report that Pruitt's request of the privacy booth is "part of a pattern of abuse of power, ethics violations, and disrespect for the rule of law by Administrator Pruitt."

The GAO's report comes as the EPA is already embroiled in a series of other controversies, including Pruitt's recent ethics scandals and questionable tax dollar spending.

"Scott Pruitt likes to talk about returning the EPA to the rule of law," Senator Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) said in a statement Monday, "but it turns out he's better at breaking it than following it."

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