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EPA transparency: And lack thereof

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Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Lisa Jackson's “lawyering up” is a sign that the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee isn't letting up as it investigates her use of secret and private email addresses for official EPA business. And all Americans who value government transparency and accountability should be glad that it isn't.

The former EPA administrator secured counsel in the wake of a federal judge saying the agency “may have intentionally skirted the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)” regarding email usage, The Washington Free Beacon reports. The hiring also came “shortly after” her use of her home email account for EPA business came to light — a revelation that expands the scope of her apparent disregard for transparency.

When Ms. Jackson resigned as EPA chief in December, the committee already was investigating her use of EPA email. The probe was prompted by the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Chris Horner discovering that she had used a secret EPA email address under the alias “Richard Windsor.” Further FOIA disclosures showed others at the EPA had engaged in similar email abuses — a practice that the EPA defended as common because incoming emails flood high-level officials' public inboxes.

When officials' email convenience trumps transparency, they're more likely to negate accountability by hiding the public's business from the public. That's why the House Oversight investigation of Jackson continues — as it should.

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