Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials did not intentionally skirt public record laws or encourage the use of private emails, the agency’s internal watchdog reported Monday, but one transparency advocate says investigators did not look hard enough.
The EPA Inspector General (IG) released a report finding “no evidence that the EPA used, promoted or encouraged the use of private ‘non-governmental’ email accounts to circumvent records management.”
Republicans in Congress requested the IG investigation after it was revealed last year that former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson used a secondary email account under the alias “Richard Windsor.” Subsequent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) disclosures found several other EPA officials using private emails to conduct government business, a possible violations of federal record law.
“EPA senior officials said they were aware of the agency records management policies and, based only on discussions with these senior officials, the [Office of the Inspector General] found no evidence that these individuals had used private email to circumvent federal recordkeeping responsibilities,” the IG said.
Chris Horner, a fellow at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute who first discovered Jackson’s secret account, said the IG was not looking hard enough.
Horner has filed numerous FOIA requests and lawsuits to discover what he says is damning evidence of secretive correspondence between EPA officials and outside groups.
“Relying on documentary evidence as opposed to the most conflicted parties imaginable, we obtained a different conclusion,” Horner told the Free Beacon. “Just reviewing the ‘Richard Windsor’ emails we found two dozen senior EPA officials using private email accounts to correspond with a false identity, not apparently copying their own account as required in the rare instance they are forced to engage in that impermissible action.
“We also found EPA hiding the identities of a handful of account holders, raising the prospect of more ‘Windsors’ and an issue we have brought to the court’s attention,” Horner said.
“But, I mean, other than that, there’s no evidence.”
The EPA has contended that secondary addresses are a common, longstanding practice among top administration officials whose public inboxes are flooded with millions of messages a year. Read more via The Washington Free Beacon...