Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt is still failing to comply with federal spending laws, say senators who have written to the EPA chief.
Last month, Washington Post reported that Pruitt’s agency spent over $43,000 to install a soundproof phone booth in his office. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the EPA violated the law and hid the purchase from Congress. According to the lawmakers, under the Anti-deficiency Act, it is mandatory for the EPA to report the violation to Congress.
This week, Senators Tom Udall and Tom Carper, along with U.S. Representatives Betty McCollum and Peter DeFazio, announced that the EPA chief is not complying with federal spending laws.
Udall, Carper, McCollum, and DeFazio, who hold leadership positions on committees tasked with overseeing EPA programs and spending, wrote to Pruitt, demanding that he provide the required information to Congress.
According to the senators, expenditures for furnishing or redecoration exceeded a cumulative total of $5,000. The senators provided a list of other items which the EPA failed to disclose. These include biometric locks worth $3,389.50, Captain’s Standing Desk worth $2,963.05, Sit-to-Stand Table for $2,514.73, Executive Desk Refurnishing for $2,075, and portraits (two) for $1,200.
The EPA, however, argued that the booth “serves a functional purpose” so Pruitt could operate “without concern that classified, deliberative, privileged, or sensitive information might inadvertently be disclosed.”
President Donald Trump has so far not commented on Pruitt’s violations. At the meeting with auto industry representatives on Friday, Pruitt was sitting two seats away from Trump. When a New York Times reporter asked Trump if he had confidence in the EPA administrator, the president said, “I do.”
Senators Tom Udall and Tom Carper have written to Pruitt, urging him to report all additional obligations and expenditures related to the Administrator’s office throughout the entirety of his tenure at EPA.
“We expect you should appreciate the importance of complying with these statutory requirements related to EPA’s expenditures of taxpayer dollars,” they stated in the letter.
Pruitt has also come under fire for trying to cover up the fact that he dined with Cardinal George Pell last year. Pell, a prominent climate-science denialist, was facing sexual abuse allegations. According to New York Times, the EPA, in its official descriptions of the dinner, intentionally failed to mention Pell’s presence.