EPA must explain why Pruitt's $43000 phone booth was legal: Republican senator

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EPA argued Pruitt's phone booth "serves a functional purpose" by allowing the administrator to carry out agency business and compared it to other office supplies, like high-speed copiers or computers.

The GAO found the law is more broad and applies to changes like the booth, which provides "a new, practical addition to the office".

GAO disagreed with EPA's interpretation of the law. It is imperative that there be an investigation into whether the agency has properly searched these email addresses for responsive documents in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

"The GAO letter "recognized the...need for employees to have access to a secure telephone line" when handling sensitive information", EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said in a statement to the Daily News. "EPA is addressing GAO's concern, with regard to Congressional notification about this expense, and will be sending Congress the necessary information this week". Installing the booth - a new concrete floor, paint work and other infrastructure - cost over $18,000 more.

The agency also said that under its guidelines, a classified phone can not be put on an office desk or in a conference room.

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Pruitt told Congress in December he uses the booth for communications with the White House.

The room, known elsewhere in government as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility or SCIF, is typically used for reading and meetings involving classified information.

In a so-called "government watchful", EPA inspector-general Arthur Elkins Jr. explained his team had examined employees records for 6 workers who were hired or had received increases beneath a provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act as Pruitt arrived to the bureau past year. The watchdog said the purchase violated Section 710 of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, which prohibits an agency. But based on the details in the report, two of them appear to be Pruitt's scheduling director Millan Hupp and senior counsel Sarah Greenwalt, and the EPA declined to identify the third one.

The chief of workers to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt authorized salary increases to at least three employees - one of that was worth 72 percentage, " the agency's watchdog revealed.

"An illegal privacy booth to conduct secret discussions with his polluter friends does nothing to help our health or environment", Udall said. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), ranking member on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees EPA. "Donald Trump shouldn't wait to see what ethical norm or law Pruitt breaks next".

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"It's simple: Pruitt broke the law, and no amount of excuses can save him now", Brune added. "He must fire him immediately".

Republicans also expressed concerns in response to the GAO ruling released today.

McCollum said the GAO report showed a culture of "corruption, cronyism, and incompetence that is pervasive" at the EPA under Pruitt.

Scott Pruitt ran afoul of a 2017 appropriations law and the Antideficiencies Act when creating the fixture, the Government Accountability Office said on Monday in a legal opinion. Congress passed the legal provision to enable the EPA to better attract scientists and experts, but it did not put those restrictions on the agency.

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