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EPA Email Release “Gravely Compounded Unlawful Activity We Have Exposed”

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EPA Email Release “Gravely Compounded Unlawful Activity We Have Exposed”

CEI’s Chris Horner Says Agency Has ‘Gone Bunker’ Over Growing Richard Windsor Scandal

Washington, D.C., January 14, 2013 – At about 4:55 p.m. on Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency finally complied with a court order to deliver the first of four sets of emails in response to a lawsuit filed by Christopher Horner, a senior fellow in the Center for Energy and the Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Here is Horner’s statement on the emails:

Where in the World is Richard Windsor?

EPA’s Court-Ordered Email Production Proves Agency Has “Gone Bunker”

Just before 5 pm on this deadline date for producing records, I received a hand-delivered CD and cover letter from the EPA in response to CEI v. EPA, now best known as the “Richard Windsor” suit. The delivery came under order of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In short, this response is deeply troubling and seems to have gravely compounded the unlawful activity we have exposed involving a false identity assumed for federal recordkeeping purposes.

Problems begin with the cover letter, which states not the promised (to the court) first delivery of "approximately 3,000" but "more than 2,100 emails received or sent” by Jackson, on what EPA insists is her one non-public account.

“Waiter, the food was terrible, and the portions too small!”

First, 2,100 is two-thirds of the way to the agency’s commitment (possibly the agency also will determine two-thirds of 12,000 is sufficient, although we have our doubts). Perhaps seeking to take the air out of a growing scandal, EPA’s defective compilation boasts an impressively anemic content-to-volume ratio. It starts with Washington Post daily news briefs, then follows with Google alerts for “Lisa Jackson EPA” (none for “Richard Windsor”). Then EPA HQ national news clips. And so on. Rope a dope. Clever. Maybe too much so.

It seems EPA simply decided it had to produce a lot of something. Desperate to produce nothing at the same time, it came up with this. But in the details, the desperation shows through.

A big red flag in the cover letter is the claim that, “As you are aware” -- with no support for how we know this, which we do not -- “the Administrator uses one secondary official account to conduct EPA business,” then states these emails come from that one account.

In fact, the record is far more clear the Administrator likely has two such secondary or “alias” accounts: one as previous administrators have used, showing her name in the sent to/from box, and one that uses the false identity “Richard Windsor,” which neither Jackson nor EPA disputes is her account and which obviously does not reflect the administrator’s name.

At this time it is useful to remember EPA’s public statements earnestly but aggressively implied Windsor was just another secondary account. So EPA has some explaining to do.

So EPA is implying here – until a journalist or the court wrenches a straight answer to the question: Did you produce “Richard Windsor” emails? – that Jackson’s single alias account is the admitted-to, recently revealed “Richard Windsor.” After all, we know this alias account exists. EPA confirms it. So EPA’s implication in trying to waive away revelation of her alias account(s) – that she in fact does not have another EPA.gov account in her name, like all other administrators – is no longer operative.

Accepting this means the only EPA.gov email account Jackson used to correspond with EPA employees (including lawyers, presumably the EPA IG who has vowed to get to the bottom of this) was the false identity of “Richard Windsor.”

In that case, nearly everyone at EPA and throughout the ranks of senior Obama officials was in on the secret. Even though we know from sources and anecdotally this revelation came as a great surprise to Agency employees. Strike one.

Further, it means Jackson did not have an account she used to correspond outside of the Agency. Really. Meaning, either she did not correspond outside of EPA, or she used a private account.

No good answers or implications there. Yet EPA really wants to go there – as preferable, apparently, to just coming clean about Richard Windsor’s activities.

Staking out the position Jackson used only one secondary account signals the agency has gone bunker. Rather than search or produce from the Richard Windsor account, it is more likely the agency intends to in essence pretend it does not exist. Count as wasted that week EPA spent with all of the muttering to the contrary about its origin being a combination of her pet’s name and the town in which she once lived.

EPA would rather fight than snitch. Instructively, in EPA’s view, tempting Congress, the court and public opinion risks less fallout than revealing “Richard Windsor's” correspondence.

This is both deeply distressing and entirely consistent with its approach throughout. But then again, frankly, what did you expect from a gang caught using false identity for federal record-keeping purposes? To just say 'you caught me; now I'll come clean?'

* This conclusion no longer would be operative if EPA established that in fact Lisa Jackson did communicate internally exclusively using the Richard Windsor address, however implausible that is, and even though that would simply then beg the troubling questions noted above.

BACKGROUND of key points to remember:

a) CEI sought emails from Lisa Jackson's secondary or "alias" email account(s) using one or more search terms: coal, climate, endanger, MACT

b) There is no record of any other senior official having ever created such an account using a false identity

c) EPA's own memo informing the National Archivist of having discovered these accounts stated they always show the administrator’s name

d) 3 exemplars we have obtained from elsewhere all show "Richard Windsor"

e) This presents EPA with a fork in the road: Burrow deeper into the bunker, and interpret that this request sought only the secondary account that shows Jackson’s name, or come clean and search her various non-public, alias accounts

f) Even given EPA’s public spin when the Windsor identity was revealed – that the Windsor account is just another secondary account, a continuation of a practice every administrator has employed since Carol Browner – now, despite this spin, EPA claims Jackson had just one such account

g) If indeed EPA is producing only non-Windsor email, it really has decided to declare war on this one, risking the obvious fallout and revealing it truly has much to hide.

> See also: cei.org/richard-windsor for a story timeline.

> To schedule an interview with Christopher Horner, please email: bmac@cei.org