The EPA Chief’s Text Messages Go Missing

But Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and author of The Liberal War on Transparency, who is suing over the text-message correspondence, says he believes that McCarthy, who was appointed to run the EPA last year, tried to hide official correspondence and that “her story as to why [they were missing] proved untrue.” As the EPA received a growing number of Freedom of Information Act requests, McCarthy “began texting like a teenager,” Horner says. “She was clearly turning to it as an alternative to e-mail, which it is. But those records must be maintained and produced.”

When Horner filed a request for text messages sent on McCarthy’s agency phone, the EPA told him none existed. But through lawsuits and other records requests, Horner eventually learned that McCarthy had sent 5,932 text messages from her official EPA phone in a three-year period. The EPA then said those messages had been deleted because they were personal, not discussing public matters — but Horner says that further records he’s obtained show that McCarthy had actually been texting several of her senior staffers.

“We now know that she was not, in fact, destroying just correspondence with friends and family,” Horner says. “They were, as they appeared on their face, work-related. It’s implausible that this cyber bonfire — that when she dropped the match on these virtual records — that she didn’t think she was destroying federal records.”