The EPA confirmed that Pruitt made one round-trip flight on a private plane and two trips on a government plane, CNN reported. Afterward, he boarded the same plane and flew to Oklahoma City. According to travel documents viewed by the Washington Post, the White House approved the flight and the EPA explained that it used the military plane because no commercial flight would have gotten Pruitt to NY in time for his flight to Italy.
The booth, also known as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), will be a customized model for Pruitt to conduct meetings, calls and other lines of communication undisturbed, according to the Post.
In June, the EPA spent about $36,000 to fly Pruitt and three staffers from Cincinnati to NY on a military plane so that they could catch a flight to Italy for meetings with environmental ministers.
Pruitt and three staffers flew on a private plane costing more than $5,700 to an event in Colorado in August.
The Enivronmental Protection Agency is reportedly spending close to $25,000 on a soundproof phone booth in Administrator Scott Pruitt's office. The EPA said the commercial flight he booked "was delayed ultimately for eight hours, which would have caused him to miss a mission critical meeting at Gold King Mine" with Governor John Hickenlooper. In a statement, EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said that all cabinet members required rooms that were impenetrable to outside hacking.
Last month, the EPA's office of inspector general launched an investigation into Pruitt's travel after it was revealed that he spent 43 out of 92 days in March, April and May in or traveling to or from Oklahoma.
According to former EPA employees, the agency has long maintained a private room.
While former EPA head Gina McCarthy also travelled to her home, in Boston, she paid for the flights, according to The New York Times.
Liz Purchia Gannon, who worked as EPA's chief spokeswoman during the Obama administration, called Pruitt's purchase "bizarre". On Wednesday, in light of Pruitt's use of private aircraft, Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee requested the office of inspector general expand its investigation. On Sept. 16, it was disclosed that the EPA administrator had used taxpayer dollars to charter a private plane for a flight between two cities in Colorado on August 4, CBS News reports. Such 24/7 coverage has prompted officials to rotate in special agents from around the country who otherwise would be investigating environmental crimes.
"This is a first", he said.