Speed Reads

pruitt woes

Scott Pruitt's $43,000 phone booth violated federal spending laws, watchdog finds

The Environmental Protection Agency violated federal spending laws by failing to report Administrator Scott Pruitt's purchasing decisions, a government watchdog group found.

Pruitt installed a private phone booth in his office last year, to the tune of more than $43,000. But the Government Accountability Office reported Monday that the agency's failure to report the purchase to Congress violated a law that puts a $5,000 cap on office improvements.

Pruitt, who has been under intense scrutiny for his spending habits and cozy relationship with environmental lobbyists, said that he needed the phone booth in order to make secure calls to discuss sensitive information with the White House, The Washington Post reports. The EPA argued to a congressional committee that the custom phone booth wasn't merely decoration, so therefore it shouldn't fall under the $5,000 rule.

The GAO disagreed, issuing a report to lawmakers contending that the EPA needed to give advance notice for the purchase and that it shouldn't have spent such a sum without approval. The watchdog group didn't give an opinion on whether or not Pruitt should have installed the phone booth in the first place. Read more at The Washington Post.