White House Investigates Pruitt's $43K Phone Booth

39 senators call for EPA chief to step down
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2018 1:00 AM CDT
39 Senators Call for Pruitt to Step Down
A sign criticizing EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is seen posted on the base of a utility pole in Washington on April 6, 2018.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Scott Pruitt's week isn't getting any easier: White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said Wednesday that he's planning to investigate the embattled EPA chief's activities, which include allegedly violating the law by spending $43,000 in taxpayer funds on a soundproof phone booth for his office, Politico reports. "We take the anti-deficiency statute," which limits spending by federal agencies, "very, very seriously," Mulvaney said during a House hearing, per Reuters. "We will enforce the law, and we'll do so in a transparent fashion." Federal agencies are required to notify Congress when they spend more than $5,000 improving the offices of presidential appointees, though EPA officials argue that installing the booth shouldn't be classed as redecoration.

Some 39 senators, meanwhile—38 Democrats and an independent—introduced a resolution calling for Pruitt to step down over what Sen. Tom Udall called "a list of ethical transgressions that grows longer by the day." Udall said Pruitt "completely violated the trust of the American people" with the alleged lapses, including travel expenses and the renting of a condo from a lobbyist's wife. The AP reports that, according to records released this week, Pruitt, who says he needs to fly first class for security purposes, flew coach on two personal trips home to Oklahoma last year that were not paid for by the taxpayer. Pruitt flew on a companion pass obtained with an adviser's frequent flier miles, while the government paid for his 20-man security detail to travel with him. (Read more Scott Pruitt stories.)

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