House oversight committee expands probe into EPA's Pruitt

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The finding, by the Government Accountability Office, comes as Mr. Pruitt has come under fire for his spending on items such as first-class air travel at taxpayer expense.

The agency spent $43,000 for installing the privacy booth in Pruitt's office, one of a number of expenditures for which the administrator is under scrutiny from Congress. Because EPA used federal money in a manner specifically prohibited by law, Armstrong said the agency also violated the Antideficiency Act, and is legally obligated to report that violation to Congress. The agency did not send advance notice of this purchase to Congressional committees.

Republican President Donald Trump has said he supports Pruitt, who has carried out his policy goals of slashing regulations on the oil, natural gas and coal industries, but will look into allegations about ethics lapses.

Democrats and a few Republicans have been calling on Pruitt either to resign or be fired since late last month, when media reports first disclosed that he had rented a Capitol Hill condo tied to an oil and gas lobbyist at the bargain rate of $50 a night.

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But Barrasso said in a statement after the GAO's decision that Pruitt's agency must give a "full public accounting" on the spending on the booth and explain why the agency thinks it was complying with the law.

"EPA violated section 710 of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2017 when it failed to notify the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and Senate prior to obligating in excess of $5,000 to install a soundproof privacy booth for the office of the Administrator during his period of appointment".

Pruitt had originally recommended the raises but was denied by the White House.

"If you sit first class, you're guaranteed to come into contact with everybody else on the plane".

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