EPA broke spending law on Pruitt phone booth: government watchdog

Cheriss May  Zuma

Cheriss May Zuma

The GAO report says Pruitt violated the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, which prohibits an agency from paying more than $5,000 to redecorate or furnish a presidential appointee's office without congressional approval, The Washington Post reported.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks during an interview with reporters at his office in Washington, July 10, 2017.

EPA Chief Scott Pruitt broke federal spending law by installing a $43,000 private phone booth to make secure calls, according to ABC News. "President Trump may not be able to control the other scandals swirling around the White House, but he can quickly end the ones Pruitt creates".

Gowdy's letter was sent one day after lawmakers heard details from the EPA's former deputy chief of staff for operations, Kevin Chmielewski, who said those who questioned Pruitt's unethical behavior were retaliated against.

"Because EPA did not comply with the notification requirement, the funds were not legally available at the time EPA incurred the obligation", the GAO wrote in the report.

The Oversight and Government Reform chairman sent a new letter Friday to the EPA chief saying the panel "recently became aware of new information" regarding Pruitt's travel and his condo lease linked to a lobbyist whose firm's clients have business interests before EPA.

The Government Accountability Office is an independent, nonpolitical government agency that investigates spending of taxpayer money, including complaints of improper spending.

Both the GAO and the EPA's internal watchdog were asked by members of Congress to look into the cost of Pruitt's "secure phone booth".

This is a developing story.

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