EPA challenged over alleged secret e-mails
WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders and a watchdog group have asked the Environmental Protection Agency to respond to allegations that Administrator Lisa Jackson has been using a secret private email account to do official business, purportedly to shield correspondence from the reach of the Freedom of Information Act.
This week, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan good-government group, sent a letter to EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins Jr. requesting an investigation into a government email account Jackson has under the name Richard Windsor. The request follows a Nov. 15 letter from the House Science Committee to Jackson expressing concern about the account and suggesting it may violate the Federal Records Act and other laws and demanding that the EPA turn over the Richard Windsor emails.
“The use of these emails could seriously impair records collection, preservation and access, therefore compromising transparency and oversight,” the House letter to Jackson said.
But the EPA says such accounts are not secret, unusual or illegal. In a statement, the agency said that for at least a decade, EPA administrators “have been assigned two official, government-issued email accounts: a public account and an internal account.” The agency said the accounts were needed because the public account is overrun with correspondence, 1.5 million messages in fiscal year 2012 alone. “The internal email account is necessary for effective management and communication between the administrator and agency colleagues,” the EPA said.
Both accounts are subject to federal laws, including the Freedom of Information Act.
The EPA's defense of the two-account email system did not satisfy concerns raised by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Anne Weismann, the group's chief counsel, said the system could lead to confusion and exclusion of Jackson's correspondence when sent to the National Archives and Records Administration.
NARA “will be getting records of the administrator that include a collection of emails from a Richard Windsor — a name not identified with or identifiable as Administrator Jackson. Ten years from now, someone reviewing those records may have no idea they are reading the emails of the administrator herself. NARA itself may have no idea. The mass confusion this practice creates spills over to Freedom of Information Act and discovery obligations,” Weismann said.
Jackson's account had the unusual name Richard Windsor because she was asked to come up with a name that meant something to her. Jackson was born in East Windsor Township, N.J.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ticks reduce moose population in northern states
- Pope picks moderate to be Chicago archbishop
- 121 tourists stranded on schooner near Statue of Liberty
- White House intrusions reveal problems with security, Secret Service
- Authorities in California search for 5 jail escapees
- Pentagon program seeks to retain U.S. technological edge against foreign rivals
- Scope of Chrysler’s latest SUV recall questioned
- Egyptian Bary admits links to 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa
- Hurricane shattered Charleston, S.C., tested mayor 25 years ago
- Threats from Mexican cartels lead protesters to scrap immigration rallies, organizer says
- GOP senators fret U.S. would let Iran disconnect, not scrap, centrifuges