White House Official Accused of Trying to Hide Communications

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has sued the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to produce the work-related emails of its director, John Holdren, that were sent from a private email account and thus hidden from the Freedom of Information Act and archiving laws.

The lawsuit alleges that Holdren used an email account from his former employer Woods Hole Research Center, an environmental advocacy group.

“The use of such non-official accounts for agency business frustrates federal open-government laws, and undermines government accountability, since such accounts are generally not searched in response to FOIA or congressional oversight requests seeking work-related communications or agency records,” Competitive Enterprise Institute attorney Hans Bader said in a blog post. “Moreover, the use of email accounts at a former employer that lobbies the federal government gives such pressure groups direct access to and control over public records, including highly sensitive information.”
This is the latest of many questions surrounding access to records that have dogged the White House. . . . under the rules he talked about, Holdren was obligated to copy his official business correspondence on the private email to the OSTP’s FOIA officer for record-keeping.
“Apparently, the longer an official is in power, and the less he fears losing power, the less he cares about government transparency and the rule of law,” Bader wrote.