Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Paul Broun (R-Georgia), recently wrote EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy requesting information about the use of alias and private email accounts for official business by agency staff. Since November 2012, Members of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee have written former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson three times regarding the use of dual, secondary or non-public email accounts.
“The response from the agency thus far has been incomplete and inadequate,” the Chairmen wrote. “The EPA has shown a blatant disregard for basic principles of transparency, and as more information has come out, it appears that the agency has knowingly failed to correct this behavior.”
On August 14, 2013, a federal judge ruled in a case against EPA stating, “U.S. EPA leaders may have used personal email accounts to ‘skirt disclosure’ under the Freedom of Information Act.” The judge further added that EPA’s explanations “contain numerous inconsistencies and reversals which undermine confidence in their truthfulness.”
The ruling was based in part on recently released emails where it appears that Ms. Jackson may have used a private email account to conduct official business, including with a lobbyist. The text of one email from Ms. Jackson appears to encourage such communication by stating, “P.S. Can you use my home email rather than this one when you need to contact me directly? Tx, Lisa.”
“We are deeply concerned by what appears to be a pattern of behavior at EPA that is directed at subverting transparency,” the Chairmen wrote. “Ms. Jackson’s departure from EPA after reports about the use of secret emails for official business and the inability of the EPA to provide records from these accounts raise several red flags.”
“Due to the agency’s non-responsiveness, it is apparent the EPA does not have appropriate procedures in place to collect, maintain and access records created by personal email accounts or secret aliases.”
Committee members last year requested that EPA’s Office of Inspector General review the agency’s practices relative to the use of alias and secondary emails for official business.