Watchdog: Investigate Secret EPA Email Addresses

• November 20, 2012 5:38 pm


Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) called for an investigation Tuesday into the alleged use of secret email addresses by top Environmental Protection Agency officials, adding another voice to the growing chorus demanding answers from the federal agency.

CREW director Melanie Sloan said in a statement that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s "practice of using fictitious email accounts to conduct official EPA business, shielding the contents from public view, conflicts directly with her responsibility to follow federal records law."

CREW called for the EPA Inspector General to investigate the claims.

"The EPA’s illegal and devious practices undermine the ability of Congress, outside watchdog groups, and citizens alike to request and receive full information from the agency," Sloan added.

"The IG should investigate immediately to ensure messages are being properly saved and learn what, exactly, it is that Administrator Jackson and other EPA employees are trying to hide from the American public."

As reported by the Free Beacon, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a nonprofit conservative think-tank, first charged Jackson with using secret email addresses to avoid disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

CEI senior fellow and attorney Chris Horner claims Jackson used the alias "Richard Windsor" to conduct official business. The Daily Caller reported Monday it had found extensive email threads between EPA officials including "Richard Windsor," who does not appear on any EPA staff lists.

Horner and CEI are currently suing the EPA, seeking to force disclosure of the alleged secret email addresses.

The House science committee sent a letter Friday to EPA Administration Jackson and several other agencies calling for an investigation into the matter.

The EPA said in a statement that multiple email addresses are a longstanding practice and are included in FOIA disclosures.

"For more than a decade, EPA Administrators have been assigned two official, government-issued email accounts: a public account and an internal account," an EPA spokesperson wrote in an email.

"The email address for the public account is posted on EPA's website and is used by hundreds of thousands of Americans to send messages to the Administrator. The internal account is an everyday, working email account of the Administrator to communicate with staff and other government officials."

"Given the large volume of emails sent to the public account—more than 1.5 million in fiscal year 2012, for instance—the internal email account is necessary for effective management and communication between the Administrator and agency colleagues," the spokesperson added.

"In the case of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, both the public and internal accounts are reviewed for responsive records, and responsive records from both accounts are provided to FOIA requesters."