The Republican minority on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, led by the ranking Republican, Senator David Vitter (R-La.), last week criticized the Office of the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency for lackadaisical investigations of several areas of continuing malfeasance at the EPA. One area is the OIG’s flawed and incomplete report on the use of private and alias e-mail accounts by high EPA officials to conduct official business. EPW Republicans note that the “OIG relied solely on interviews of EPA officials willing to co-operate, and never examined in any way actual staff e-mails.”
Their criticism continues: “Additionally, according to the OIG, they have no authority to review the use of private e-mail accounts for agency business beyond asking the employee if they had ever improperly used a private e-mail account, and did not follow-up or fact-check. Moreover, investigators never spoke to former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson or former General Counsel Scott Fulton, two senior level officials who played central roles in the controversy, nor did the OIG examine or compare the practice of using alias accounts by Administrator Jackson and past Administrators. The OIG also did not review the e-mails showing that EPA officials were inappropriately using their e-mail accounts that were produced in response to multiple FOIA requests.”
Those Freedom of Information Act requests were filed by Chris Horner, my CEI colleague. The revelations that the EPW Republicans are complaining about resulted primarily from lawsuits filed by CEI because the EPA refused to comply with the law. In a press release, Horner states: “Although EPA officials, like Region 9 Administrator Jared Blumenfeld, denied use of private e-mail accounts for business purposes to the EPA’s Office of Inspector General, just this week the EPA produced more than 150 megabytes of supposedly non-existent, EPA-related e-mails from Blumenfeld’s Comcast account.”
Horner continues: “Blumenfeld is only one of numerous officials whose use of private e-mail accounts CEI uncovered. Others include former Region 8 Administrator James Martin, who has since resigned, and current Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck, whose account appears to be the same one she used during previous work at an environmental pressure group. So far, e-mails from these types of accounts have revealed relationships between EPA officials and special interest groups that are far too close for comfort.”
The EPW Republicans’ statement lists seventeen political appointees at the EPA whose use of private e-mail accounts for conducting private business have been revealed by CEI’s FOIA litigation.