House Oversight Committee to Investigate Transparency Violations

Lisa Jackson to testify on private email use

Lisa Jackson / AP
September 6, 2013

Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson will testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform next Tuesday about transparency lapses at the agency, including possibly her own.

The hearing, "Preventing Violations of Federal Transparency Laws," will investigate ongoing compliance issues with the federal records and transparency laws, such as officials using unofficial email accounts to conduct government business.

House Oversight Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) said the witnesses would be asked about training and their knowledge of record keeping rules.

"Officials in multiple Administrations have struggled to fully comply, and in some instances willfully flaunted, federal transparency and record keeping laws through their use of non-official e-mail and other electronic communications to conduct official government business," Issa said in a statement.

"This proceeding will hear testimony from some of these officials who will be asked, as fact witnesses, questions ranging from the adequacy of training to their understanding of rules governing the use of e-mail and other electronic communications tools," Issa said.

Critics accused Jackson of skirting transparency laws after it was revealed last November that she used a secondary EPA email account under the alias "Richard Windsor."

Windsor even received certificates for completing training modules on records management.

The EPA contended that Jackson’s secondary email was common practice for high-level officials—due to the large amount of email flooding their inboxes—stretching back several administrations.

In August, emails from her "Richard Windsor" account disclosed through the Freedom of Information Act revealed she also used her home email account for business. Watchdogs have found several other EPA officials using private email.

In response to mounting congressional pressure, the EPA announced it would retrain all of its employees in records management and would fully comply with an ongoing investigation by the agency’s inspector general.

Jackson announced her resignation in December and is now vice president for environmental initiatives for Apple. She recently hired a lawyer.

"Lisa Jackson has been a dedicated public servant who served her country honorably for over two decades," her lawyer Barry Coburn told Politico. "She has engaged in no wrongdoing of any kind. She is committed to responding appropriately to any inquiry initiated by any forum."