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EPA chief testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on Capitol Hill January 18, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Soundproof Booth Cannot 'Hide Illegal Actions' as GAO Probe Says Pruitt Violated Federal Law

"It's simple: Pruitt broke the law, and no amount of excuses can save him now."

As pressure on EPA chief Scott Pruitt to resign mounts amid his ever-growing list of scandals, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded on Monday that the $43,000 soundproof phone booth Pruitt had installed in his office last year at the taxpayer's expense violated federal spending laws.

"Not even Scott Pruitt's secure phone booth can hide his illegal actions."
—Michael Brune, Sierra Club
Federal law prohibits goverment agencies from dishing out more than $5,000 to "furnish, redecorate, purchase furniture for, or make improvements for the office of a presidential appointee during the period of appointment without prior notification to the appropriations committees of Congress."

Because the EPA failed to inform Congress about the soundproof booth, the agency "used its appropriations in a manner specifically prohibited by law," the GAO concluded in an eight-page report made public on Monday.

Pruitt insisted that the "privacy" booth was necessary for him to "make and receive calls to discuss sensitive information."

Highlighting the fact that there are currently at least 11 government investigations into Pruitt's "mounting list of ethical and now legal violations," Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said in a statement on Monday that "not even Scott Pruitt's secure phone booth can hide his illegal actions."

"It's simple: Pruitt broke the law, and no amount of excuses can save him now," Brune added. "Donald Trump shouldn't wait to see what ethical norm or law Pruitt breaks next. He must fire him immediately."

As Common Dreams has reported, Pruitt is also under fire for flying first-class to avoid being criticized by people who don't like that he's destroying the planet, renting a room from a prominent lobbyist for $50 a night, and lying about raises he attempted to give his two favorite aides.

Despite growing calls for Pruitt to either step down or be fired, President Donald Trump has stood by his EPA chief, telling him to "keep [his] head up" as he implements the White House's pro-fossil fuel agenda.


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