EPA chief Scott Pruitt getting own $25000 soundproof booth

EPA Spending Nearly $25K to Build Administrator Scott Pruitt a Soundproof Phone Booth

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Environmental Protection Agency is spending almost $25,000 to provide Administrator Scott Pruitt something none of his predecessors have had - a custom soundproof booth for making private phone calls.

In July, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt flew on a private plane for official travel in his home state of Oklahoma - leaving taxpayers on the hook for more than $14,000. The booth the EPA is having constructed for Pruitt is typically used for hearing tests but is being customized so that Pruitt can take calls without worrying about being monitored.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) sent a letter to the EPA's inspector general on Tuesday asking for the agency watchdog to review Pruitt's use of non-commercial flights, according to the Washington Post.

On Aug. 4, Pruitt flew on another private jet from Denver to Durango, Colo., and back, because his commercial flight had been delayed by more than five hours, CNN reported, citing an EPA spokesman.

Most federal Cabinet offices have a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility where secured communications can take place and be safe from outside eavesdropping or hacking.

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.

The governor's office confirmed to Denver7 Wednesday that Pruitt had declined Hickenlooper's invitation, but did not offer further comment.




Pruitt has also made headlines for maintaining a round-the-clock security detail that cost more than $830,000 for his first three months on the job, almost double that of his predecessors, as E&E News reported in July.

In all three cases, the EPA spokesperson said that the agency's ethics office approved of the flights. Some EPA employees have been asked to surrender their cellphones and other digital devices before meetings in the administrator's office, in much the same way visitors do when visiting the president in the Oval Office.

Stan Meiburg, who served as EPA's acting deputy administrator until earlier this year, said he only ever needed to enter a SCIF a handful of occasions each year.

"Pruitt also has shied away from using email at EPA, often preferring to deliver instructions verbally and hold face-to-face meetings".

In addition, Pruitt has largely avoided the agency's decades-long practice of publicly posting the administrator's appointment calendars. The detail now includes about 18 people to cover round-the-clock needs and his frequent travel schedule.

"As someone who spent a lot of time in the administrator's office, I can tell you that there was nothing like this previously".

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