April 16, 2018
By Washington Post Editorial Board –
ON MONDAY, two independent watchdogs released reports detailing abuse and, in one case, violation of the law at Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency in pursuit of perks for the administrator and his staff. President Trump should have fired Mr. Pruitt a long time ago. The latest reports underscore the swampy behavior Mr. Trump appears willing to tolerate and excuse.
The Government Accountability Office found that the EPA broke the law when it installed a $43,000-plus privacy booth in Mr. Pruitt’s office, vastly exceeding the $5,000 cap Congress imposed on buying furniture or making improvements to the private offices of federal agency heads. The EPA should have informed Congress it wanted to spend tens of thousands of dollars on an unnecessary security upgrade. By failing to do so and spending the money anyway, it violated two federal laws, the GAO concluded.
The EPA says Mr. Pruitt required access to a secure telephone line in an appropriate setting. But there already were two secure facilities at the EPA available for just such a purpose. Moreover, as the New York Times reported this month, members of Mr. Pruitt’s staff argued that the administrator needed only a $10,000 upgrade to obtain the privacy he desired, one of many objections they raised to the administrator’s lavish spending. The Times found that these staffers were punished, and $43,000 was spent on “a special chamber with sound-dampening privacy products and ceiling baffles that would prevent anyone from intercepting voice or data transmissions.”
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