Looks Like Richard Windsor May Have More Imaginary Friends At EPA

Remember Lisa Jackson and her secret email name? It appears that Richard Windsor wasn’t alone. I know, you’re as shocked as I am that others may have used fake email addresses to avoid FOIA requests.

Luckily, David Vitter and Darrell Issa aren’t any more likely to be duped now than they were by Lisa Jackson. According to a press release today,

January 29, 2013
Vitter, Issa Investigate EPA’s Transparency Problem, More Suspicious E-mail Accounts

EPA Region 8 Administrator violates e-mail rule, uses private e-mail accounts to conduct official business

(Washington, D.C.) – In a joint letter sent today, Senator David Vitter (R-La.), the top Republican of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, questioned James Martin, Region 8 Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), regarding his use of a non-official e-mail account to conduct official business, potentially violating federal transparency laws.

In documents obtained by Senate EPW and House OGR committees, Administrator Martin used a non-official, me.com, e-mail account, which may have been an attempt to circumvent the Federal Records Act, the Freedom of Information Act, and Congressional oversight.

Today’s letter is a follow up to the letter sent nearly two weeks ago:

The use of an alias account to conduct official Agency business makes compliance with the [Federal Records Act] and [Presidential Records Act] more difficult because the alias may not be matched to an actual Agency employee,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., wrote in the Wednesday letter, which was obtained exclusively by The Washington Examiner.

The use of an alias email account to conduct government business also creates difficulties in fulfilling the FOIA or litigation requests. Furthermore, conducting official business using an alias may implicate criminal or civil penalties for the unlawful concealment of federal records,” Issa added. The committee asked for a response by January 29th.”

According to reports, Lisa Jackson has stated that the secondary account was created to handle “the large amount of email that her primary official account receives”. No explanation has been offered, however, why she used an alias of the opposite gender and conducted official business over the account, counter to federal law.

Perhaps Christopher Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has hit on the reason for the secrecy:

In May [2012], CEI filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking correspondence between EPA Regional 8 Administrator James Martin and the Environmental Defense Fund, where Mr. Martin had previously worked as a senior attorney. CEI’s FOIA request was aimed at determining the extent to which policymaking in the Obama Administration is being coordinated with outside environmental pressure groups.” [emphasis added]

One can only imagine other “outside pressure groups” that may be clandestinely communicating policy requests to this administration – especially in the wake of coverups in Mexico and Libya.

The silence from the White House is deafening, considering President Obama’s claims that he “won’t stop fighting to open up government” and “we’ve put in the toughest ethics laws and toughest transparency rules of any administration in history”. If that were really the case, we wouldn’t have to wonder which outside pressure groups are influencing this administration or its layers upon layers of bureaucracies and armies of bureaucratic appointments.