For all his talk about draining the swamp, U.S. President Donald Trump surrounded himself during his rise to power with a number of figures emblematic of “swamp-style” corruption. Former Environmental Protection Administration head Scott Pruitt is one such swamp dweller. Earlier this year, he resigned from leading the agency in the face of a cascade of scrutiny over his spending habits, but details of his corruption are still coming out.
A new report from The Washington Post reveals that he’s only been confirmed to have ever made one single phone call from a soundproof phone booth that he spent $43,000 of taxpayer funds to install. That call preceded a five minute phone conversation with the White House — and that’s it. He’s not been confirmed to have made any other calls from the booth.
The EPA shared billing documents revealing as much in response to a public records request from the Sierra Club.
That group’s legislative director Melinda Pierce commented:
‘With each new revelation it becomes clearer and clearer that Donald Trump enabled the most corrupt cabinet member ever to hang on far past his expiration date… We need leadership at the EPA that can be trusted to protect our health, not polluter profits.’
They’d originally only requested records coverage through December 6; Pruitt made the call in question on January 29. There’s not any available documentation for what calls may have been placed to the two lines in the booth; the EPA claims Verizon to have asserted they can only turn over such documentation in the face of a subpoena.
The near total lack of usage of the booth flies in the face of Pruitt’s April assertion to Congress when he was still on the job that the set-up was needed for that job. He compared the booth to Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities, or SCIFs, which are used across government for the relay of highly sensitive information. However, not only did Pruitt seemingly never really use the supposedly SCIF-comparable phone booth he installed, but in addition, there was such a facility on a different floor of the same building his office was in.
The booth actually broke the law, according to the Government Accountability Office, because he didn’t inform Congress before spending more than $5,000 as required. The booth was just one of many nails in the former EPA administrator’s governmental career coffin, which was also shut by revelations like his usage of tens of thousands of dollars worth of government transportation for his own private purposes.
That’s actually similar to the reason that Omarosa Manigault-Newman left the White House. She’d been using White House car service for personal uses — and now she’s breathing down the administration’s neck with her new book Unhinged and her repeated releases of clandestine recordings. It’s just another example in the end of how deep corruption really runs with the current administration.
Besides the unhindered travel spending, Pruitt also had aides perform personal errands like trying to find his wife a job. In the face of the mounting inquiries into his corruption, he resigned in early July of this year, a short time after the EPA’s provided phone records end. He was replaced by the now acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
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