Pruitt's Sketchy Use of Taxpayer Money Now Includes Expensive Soundproof Booth

Scott Pruitt administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency of United States, during the G7 Ministerial Meeting on Environment ongioing in Bologna Italy 11 June 2017. The meeting runs until tomorrow 12 June. ANSA GIORGIO BENVENUTI

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt took a private plane from Denver to Durango and back last month during a trip to meet with Colorado's top politicians at the Gold King Mine, despite Gov. John Hickenlooper's office offering him a ride on the state's plane.

Snider, who had previously facilitated SCIF contracts with federal agencies, said that the EPA's latest request was the first time that an agency commissioned a booth exclusively for the administrator's use.

The booth ordered for Pruitt is being built by Acoustical Solutions, a Richmond, Va. -based company that sells more economical versions retailing for about $5,000, designed for people taking hearing tests. But the EPA sought a customized version - one that eventually would cost nearly several times more than a typical model - that Pruitt can use to communicate without fear of being monitored. The booth includes a secure computer and phone room, which blocks sound from passing inside out as well as outside in.

The EPA already has a SCIF in a separate area of the building, the Post reported, and it's unclear if Pruitt believes that it is out of date or somehow insufficient. It's called a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF).

The governor's office confirmed to Denver7 Wednesday that Pruitt had declined Hickenlooper's invitation, but did not offer further comment.

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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.

Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet, Rep. Scott Tipton and other state officials on the second anniversary of the spill, though the EPA never officially announced ahead of time that Pruitt would be attending, and members of the media were not invited to join the tour. Some EPA employees have been asked to surrender their cellphones and other digital devices before meetings in the administrator's office, in much the same way visitors do when visiting the president in the Oval Office.

In addition, Pruitt has largely avoided the agency's decades-long practice of publicly posting the administrator's appointment calendars.

Pruitt, who has become a polarizing and high-profile figure as he seeks to roll back Obama-era policies and shrink the EPA's footprint, has essentially tripled the personal security detail that served past administrators.

"As someone who spent a lot of time in the administrator's office, I can tell you that there was nothing like this previously".

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