Dems seek investigation into EPA chief’s $25K soundproof booth
House Democrats are asking for a federal investigation into Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s $25,000 soundproof booth.
The Thursday request from Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, comes amid growing scrutiny over spending by Pruitt and other Cabinet agency heads, including travel on charter or military aircraft.
The EPA this summer signed a contract worth nearly $25,000 to buy and have installed a soundproof booth in Pruitt’s office, The Washington Post found last month. The agency said the secure facility is needed for Pruitt to discuss sensitive matters and that numerous other Cabinet secretaries have similar facilities.
The EPA already has a dedicated Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility elsewhere in the headquarters building.
Now Pallone wants the EPA’s Office of Inspector General to investigate the purchase.
“The reported installation of this equipment is unprecedented and may represent yet another example of bureaucratic malfeasance by the Trump administration,” Pallone wrote, along with Reps. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and Diana Degette (D-Colo.).
“The installation of a dedicated communications booth in the administrator’s office raises questions regarding why such equipment is needed and what types of conversations Administrator Pruitt is having that would warrant a private soundproof booth,” they said.
Pallone and his colleagues want the inspector general to find out why Pruitt needs the booth, if proper purchasing standards were followed, who approved the purchase and what policies are in place to stop wasteful spending, among other questions.