Remember earlier this year when the now-departed Scott Pruitt spent about $43,000 in taxpayer money to construct a secure phone booth in his office as director of the Environmental Protection Agency?
That seemed a little excessive even for a government agency that deals with sensitive — and controversial — environmental issues in an age of hacking.
The congressional Office of Government Accountability found that a little much too, as I wrote here in April. Pruitt was fired/resigned last month.
When the initial $20,000 phone booth purchase price and $23,000 installation costs came out, Pruitt likened it to a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, a highly-secure location used by government officials for secure conversations and document-reading. The EPA already has one of those SCIF rooms. But the director would have had to go to a different floor from his office.
Last December, Pruitt told Congress:
Cabinet-level officials need to have access to secure communications. It’s necessary for me to be able to do my job.
In April, Pruitt told a House committee:
It’s for confidential communications, and it’s rare.
But Pruitt maintained he needed his own booth to discuss important sensitive matters with the Trump White House.
Now, we learn from newly-released agency records that Pruitt used the secure telephone booth only once to call the White House, which has its own very secure phone system.
The call lasted five minutes. No records apparently exist for incoming calls. So, that works out to about $8,600 a minute.
Pruitt was fired/resigned last month for rude treatment of staff and his excessive spending habits, if you can imagine such a thing.