Why Is Scott Pruitt's EPA Spending $25000 on Soundproofing For His Office?

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

The EPA is spending close to $25,000 to construct a secure space for Pruitt within the agency, according to government contracting records first obtained and reported by the Washington Post.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt opted to charter a private plane from Denver to Durango and turned down an offer from Gov. John Hickenlooper to ride on his state plane for the trip to the Gold King Mine in early August.

Typically, such soundproof booths are used to conduct hearing tests. The booth includes a secure computer and phone room, which blocks sound from passing inside out as well as outside in. "As someone who spent a lot of time in the administrator's office, I can tell you that there was nothing like this", Liz Purchia, former head of communications at the EPA, told CNN. "Federal agencies need to have one of these so that secured communications, not subject to hacking from the outside, can be held".

The Post noted that no other EPA administrators have had a setup installed like this in the past.

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.

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"We are glad that the EPA Office of Inspector General is looking into this issue, to determine whether taxpayer funds were spent appropriately", said Sylvia Lam, an attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project. The agency did not specify what aspects of that facility were outdated, or whether the unit inside Pruitt's office would meet the physical and technical specifications a SCIF generally is required to have.

According to former EPA employees, the agency has long maintained a private room. He's also shied away from using email, preferring to give orders personally. Only last week were details on months worth of meetings released after media outlets filed repeated Freedom of Information Act requests for that information; they showed he has met regularly with corporate executives from the automobile, mining and fossil fuel industries - in several instances shortly before making decisions favorable to those interest groups.

In addition, Pruitt has a 24/7 security detail, involving 18 law enforcement officers, in contrast with his predecessors, who only had security details when working and in transit.

Price was criticized by President Trump on Wednesday, who said "we'll see" when asked if - like Cabinet officials from previous administrations - he might lose his job over his lavish travels.

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