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Al Drago / STR

Pruitt's Sketchy Use of Taxpayer Money Now Includes Expensive Soundproof Booth

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will spend nearly $25,000 to install a soundproof communications booth for Administrator Scott Pruitt inside his office, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

According to a salesman at the company the EPA contracted, the agency's request ran far over the cost for a standard model because of several special "modifications" to further prevent data breaches and eavesdropping.


The Post reported that the agency already has a secure booth installed elsewhere in the building, and no other EPA administrator has taken the step to have a private booth installed. It's not just Pruitt's phone and computer time racking up the bills: CBS News reported Pruitt ran up thousands of dollars in taxpayer-funded travel by skipping commercial airline options to take private and military flights twice this summer.

"Critics say Mr. Pruitt has gone to unusual lengths to operate in secrecy at the EPA, where employees report he is often accompanied by armed guards even inside the agency, and avoids making important calls in his office," the New York Times noted.

As reported by the Post:

"Pruitt also has shied away from using email at EPA, often preferring to deliver instructions verbally and hold face-to-face meetings. The shift stems in part from public disclosure by the New York Times in 2014—following an open-records request of emails—of how Pruitt and other attorneys general had worked closely with the oil and gas industry to oppose Obama administration environmental safeguards ...

Pruitt, who has become a polarizing and high-profile figure as he seeks to roll back Obama-era policies and shrink the EPA's footprint, has essentially tripled the personal security detail that served past administrators. The detail now includes about 18 people to cover round-the-clock needs and his frequent travel schedule. Such 24/7 coverage has prompted officials to rotate in special agents from around the country who otherwise would be investigating environmental crimes."

For a deeper dive:

Booth: Washington Post, New York Times, The Hill. Flights: CBS

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

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