GAO rules Pruitt's $43k phone booth violated spending laws

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by LizKat, Apr 16, 2018.

  1. LizKat macrumors 601

    LizKat

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    #1
    The watchdog agency didn't weigh in on the matter of whether Pruitt needed one. They said he violated laws in exceeding spending limits and in the manner of appropriation:

    From the related Wall Street Journal piece today:


    The $43,000 soundproof phone booth that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt had installed in his office last year violated federal spending laws, the Government Accountability Office said Monday.

    In an eight-page letter to lawmakers, GAO general counsel Thomas H. Armstrong said the agency failed to notify lawmakers that it was exceeding the $5,000 limit for agency heads to furnish, redecorate or otherwise make improvements to their offices. In addition, Armstrong wrote, the agency also violated the federal Antideficiency Act, “because EPA obligated appropriated funds in a manner specifically prohibited by law.”​
     
  2. mac_in_tosh macrumors 6502

    mac_in_tosh

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    #2
    Why did he claim to need a phone booth? Couldn't he just close his office door like everyone else?
     
  3. juanm macrumors 65816

    juanm

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    #3
    Do you really have to ask?
     
  4. JayMysterio macrumors 6502

    JayMysterio

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    #4
    Because he's liberally spending government dollars of an organization he thinks is wasteful & isn't needed. Duh! ;)
     
  5. chown33 macrumors 604

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  6. lowendlinux Contributor

    lowendlinux

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    #7
    I was going to say that if the EPA doesn't have a SCIF then I'm not going to get my underoos in a bunch, then I read the article and it says they have one so my underoos are bunched a bit
     
  7. alex2792 macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    Why does he need a soundproof phone booth in the first place? I don’t care about his climate change views, but he seems like an all around douche. He stiffed his buddy on a $50 per month room lease while flying first class on the taxpayer dime.
     
  8. samcraig macrumors P6

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    #9
    Come on Liz. Give the guy a break. I mean - if POTUS isn't being held accountable for just about everything - you can't expect his appointees and staff to!
     
  9. A.Goldberg macrumors 68020

    A.Goldberg

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    #10
    I believe the technical term is a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility). Apparently the EPA already has one on a neighboring floor in their building.

    Does the EPA really A. have that much top secret information being B. have top secret information being discussed that frequently that Pruitt needs a SCIF in his office?

    At the very least, this seems like a tremendous waste of government spending. As for the $5000 budget, I feel it might be a bit of a stretch to consider building a (probably unnecessary) secure communication infrastructure "redecorating", "furnishing" or even making "improvements" . If Pruitt wanted a new computer I imagine that wouldn't be considered part of the $5000. Had he built this "phone booth" across the hall then would it come from the same budget?

    I think the greater issue is that these government officials get $5000 to change up their decor- that ends up being quite a lot of money. Buy some decent furniture and replace it every 15-20 years or whatever like a normal company. If a politician doesn't like the furniture they are given, they can use their own money, which they probably have, to buy their own furniture.
     
  10. LizKat thread starter macrumors 601

    LizKat

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    #11
    :D Right and the piece said it's not even clear whether, after expenditure of forty-three thousand bucks, the stupid thing Pruitt had built to custom specs is even good enough to serve as a SCIF.


    So in the end it could just be a pretty pricey, pretty private phone booth, possibly meant to house calls about "the people's business" that the people might sure be interested in hearing more about some time. Pruitt's living in some alternate scenario of "environmental protection" and so is Trump if Pruitt's actually following a Trump script on how to run (or ruin) the EPA.

    It's pretty clear that if Congress had been properly asked to appropriate the funds for this thing, the answer would have been no. The question is whether these violations are enough to tip Pruitt out the door.
     
  11. VulchR macrumors 68020

    VulchR

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    #12
    Precisely.
     
  12. A.Goldberg macrumors 68020

    A.Goldberg

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    #13
    For some reason it makes me of the room with the telephone in Mark Twain’s house in CT. He was one of the first people to have a phone in his house.

    I’m sure given the nature of our government in does not mean SCIF standards. I read an article a while back saying many of the government SCIFs aren’t actually as secure as they thought they were.

    Again I can only imagine what EPA information is so sensitive that they need a SCIF-like structure for communication.

    I really wish there was a flavor of government committed to abolishing wasteful spending. Clearly it’s not the conservatives. $45k for a phonebooth is ridiculous, especially when they already have a SCIF in their office. It reminds me of 2012 when the GSA spent $800,000 on some ridiculous casino-themed party including a mind reader, clowns, novelty poker chips, etc.

    Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. I think anyone can think of better ways to allocate this money that gets thrown around like confetti.
     
  13. Huntn, Apr 17, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018

    Huntn macrumors P6

    Huntn

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    #14
    I am so disgusted with these people, the only thing transparent about them is their sleaze.
     
  14. VulchR macrumors 68020

    VulchR

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    #15
    Actually, in thinking about this, I want all unclassified government calls that do not discuss privileged information to be recorded and made public.
     
  15. SusanK macrumors 68000

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    #16
    You gotta wonder about a public servant who needs a bullet proof desk and a sound proof phone booth.
     
  16. LizKat thread starter macrumors 601

    LizKat

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    #17
    Yeah. And a security staff up around 18, to be able to provide 24/7 coverage and deal with his frequent travel. This is double what the previous administrator required. The reason provided was that "some people" are upset about too strict enforcement of environmental laws. Duh, since his whole claim to fame is that he's into killing EPA rules, why would he need double the help to beat back fewer protestors I wonder.

    And why did the US decide to send an EPA chief on a trip to Morocco back in December to "promote use of natural gas" and to talk about "enhancing environmental stewardship around the world." C'mon. Could do that with a phone call --one he should not need a private phone booth to make it from either-- and anyway why isn't that a job for the Department of Energy and the federal energy regulators?

    Meanwhile pipelines are doubtless leaking... somewhere... back at home.

    Punchlines: For the Morocco tour, Pruitt got waivers from his agency's CFO to fly business class instead of economy on 3 of the 5 flights involved due to "security concerns" supposedly expressed by his security team. He took with him seven aides plus an "undisclosed number" of his security detail. His security coverage for one quarter last year ran over $800k.

    ----
    sources for above info

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...nt-four-days-in-morocco-promoting-natural-gas

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/nati...7b8b6c-9ce0-11e7-8ea1-ed975285475e_story.html
     
  17. chagla macrumors 6502a

    chagla

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    #18
    Where are the pre-election crowd screaming "drain the swamp" now? hibernating?
     
  18. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

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    #19
    They are busy finding new jobs, now their coal mining jobs were shut down after all.
     
  19. LizKat thread starter macrumors 601

    LizKat

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    #20
    And because their Dear Leader signed an EO suggesting that they better find some kinda work no matter how poorly paid or else their SNAP benefits are going south.

    Fortunately for them, the EO is more message than policy since it takes Congressional action for changes of the sort Trump was talking about and in fact all he did was order agencies to review how they could reduce eligibility for benefits or require more people to work to stay eligible.

    It's rich --and sad, and manipulative-- that Trump continues to cater to the GOP's desire to put more of America to work at lower wages while pitching to his core supporters that this EO is some kind of anti-immigration and anti-welfare-queen maneuver that will benefit any left-behinds still wearing MAGA hats.

    Here's what I think: whatever money gets saved, if any (which is debatable) as spinoff from Trump's EO should go to funding free breakfasts followed by mandatory seminars in critical thinking skills... oh, and automatic voter registration.

    Maybe next time before they vote for a President who appoints grifters like Scott Pruitt, they'll have more awareness of what a campaigner means by stuff like "draining the swamp" and "cutting red tape" and "eliminating burdensome regulations." Who knew a burdensome regulation was having to dish out SNAP benefits to people without political power enough to resist taking a hit on their meager table in order to fund tax cuts and the costs of Scott Pruitt's business-class jaunts, 18-man security detail and $43k office phone booth?
     
  20. PracticalMac macrumors 68030

    PracticalMac

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    #21
    my $0.02:

    1. Pruitt ignored all procedures in ordering this "phone booth"
    2. Pruitt ignored spending limits on renovations.
    3. Pruitt likely did not care about SCIF certification, he just wanted something, fast.
    4. Pruitt deliberately did not want to use the current SCIF.

    Everything points to Pruitt wanting to keep conversations secret even to Government, something a mob boss wants.

    ANNND, i would not be surprised if he used that booth to call Sean Hannity.

    This reeks of illegal activity.
     
  21. LizKat thread starter macrumors 601

    LizKat

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    #22
    Maybe the clock is ticking more loudly on Pruitt. Aside from the six-page letter out there from two Senators and three House members demanding Pruitt's justification for assorted questionable spending and use of resources

    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4436623-4-12-2018-Letter-to-Pruitt.html

    there's also now a letter out there demanding his resignation

    ClockTickingForPruitt?.jpg

    Of course the signers are likely all Democrats. Nonetheless... all that means is that if Pruitt stays, it's clear the GOP don't mind his no-ethics approach to stewardship of the agency charged with minding our environment. Up to the voters to decide then what to do about the House members who shrug at the unauthorized charges and unjustifiable use of resources that Pruitt has been racking up at the expense of taxpayers.
     
  22. A.Goldberg macrumors 68020

    A.Goldberg

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    #23
    The NSA is probably taking care of that. We just have to wait for the Wikileaks release.
     
  23. LizKat thread starter macrumors 601

    LizKat

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    #24
    Remember the lobbyist whose wife rented the room to Pruitt in DC? The lobbyist who along with Pruitt had publicly denied he had any business in front of the EPA?

    Yeah, probably not. Things move so fast now. Anyway that lobbyist has now resigned from his firm, a few hours before the firm filed a lobbying disclosure form showing the guy had lobbied the EPA this past quarter regarding "Issues relating to support for EPA Chesapeake Bay Programs."


    Smithfield Farms is who paid the lobbyist. Their spokeperson later said the action was on behalf of a former executive so more a matter of personal introduction to Pruitt than work for Smithfield itself. Regardless, this news mars Pruitt's standing before congressmen already considering the issue of whether Pruitt had been truthful in denying any relationship to the lobbyist whose wife rented him that room in DC.

    The whole thing is pretty complicated. The disclosure form is current and for the quarter just ended in 2018. At least one meeting was acknowledged as having taken place last year. It's not clear if the purposes were the same.

    As far as Smithfield's relationship to the Chesapeake Bay cleanup, the firm used to be a hog waste polluter and was fined $12.7 million over that in 1997. But now through the miracle of God knows what and the passage of at least time, the company is a member of the nonprofit Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.

    The former exec of Smithfield who met with Pruitt is still a member of the Smithfield Foundation and apparently a member of the Chesapeake Bay Commission. If this sounds a teeny bit like a potential co-opting masked by a corporate responsibility playbook item, you could be right which may not make it wrong as long as they're not putting hog waste in the bay area waters.

    America = land of second chances if you can get to know the right people.

    None of this tale subtracts Pruitt's falsehood about not having contacts with the lobbyist. If they were just talking about keeping Chesapeake Bay sparkling clean, why lie about it? Pruitt could probably use a few brownie points from people who like clean water. But then there's the matter of getting a cheap room rate from a woman married to a guy w/ business before your agency...
     
  24. GermanSuplex macrumors 6502a

    GermanSuplex

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    #25
    These guys are arse raping the American public. How about we only allow Trump voters to pay? This crap sucks for people who expect elected officials to do a job.
     

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