EPA IG to Investigate Agency Email Practices

WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 17, 2012 – Chris Horner, senior fellow on energy and the environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, author of the book “The Liberal War on Transparency” and an attorney who helped CEI sue the EPA for refusing to release public documents, had the following to say about news the agency’s inspector general is looking into its email practices:

Today we learned the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general has begun an inquiry into a practice of “alias” email accounts for EPA administrators and the false identity assumed by the current administrator, Lisa Jackson (“Richard Windsor”).

Two full committees and one investigative subcommittee of the House of Representatives have asked several federal agencies, including EPA and the White House, to answer questions regarding this and related revelations in my book “The Liberal War on Transparency.” This also comes after the Department of Justice acknowledged last week 12,000 emails from Lisa Jackson’s “secondary” email account that discuss the Obama administration’s war on coal, in response to litigation we have filed over this practice.

So far, EPA’s talking points have sought to change the subject and deflect attention from the obvious question: Why the fake identity?

We at CEI welcome the inquiry and hope for a credible process and report, but we need to be realistic about the problem. We found out about Lisa Jackson’s false identity only because we stumbled across an obscure EPA memo that admitted the “alias” accounts had been created by former administrator Carol Browner, who ordered her hard drive and backup tapes erased and had her email accounts set on auto-delete. In other words, everything about these accounts, from their origin forward, screamed abuse, and controls were supposedly instituted. EPA promised to address all of this after a Government Accountability Office inquiry. But it has not.

All of which tells us systems can always be abused. That’s because it’s not the system but the politicians who name people to positions of authority who then, in turn, seek to abuse that authority. Hopefully the IG and House committees can get to the bottom of this and other deceptive, unlawful and in some cases criminal practices to hide what the Obama administration and its allies are up to and which is revealed in “The Liberal War on Transparency.”

>> More on CEI’s ongoing efforts to uncover deceptive email practices at federal agencies:

• Christopher Horner in The Washington Examiner: “EPA Administrators Invent Excuses to Avoid Transparency” (Nov. 25)

• Press Release: CEI Sues for EPA Administrator’s Secret Email Account, Related Records (Oct. 1)

• Press Release: CEI Files Groundbreaking Lawsuit Against EPA for Hiding Agency Records on Private Email Accounts (Sept. 11)