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

Monday, April 16th 2018, 1:20 pm
By: Richard Clark

The Environmental Protection Agency broke the law because it failed to notify Congress when it bought a sound proof phone booth for administrator Scott Pruitt.

Pruitt, who was Oklahoma Attorney General before taking the EPA job, has been under fire for his spending on travel, security detail and renting a room in a condo owned by a lobbyist's wife for $50 a night.

Read more about the condo controversy here.

The cost of the soundproof phone booth came to $43,238.68. The Government Accountability Office says any amount over $5,000 required notification of the Appropriations Committees in Congress.

In a report issued Monday, the GAO wrote:

"EPA violated section 710 of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2017 when it failed to notify the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and Senate prior to obligating in excess of $5,000 to install a soundproof privacy booth for the office of the Administrator during his period of appointment.  Because EPA used its appropriations in a manner specifically prohibited by law, EPA violated the Antideficiency Act.  EPA should report its Antideficiency Act violation as required by law." 

Read the GAO report here.

CBS News reported on April 3 that Pruitt received words of encouragement his boss, President Trump. CBS News says the president phoned Pruitt the night of April 2 and told him to keep his head up and to keep fighting. CBS News said White House chief of staff John Kelly followed up with another phone call reiterating the president's message the next day.