The big story of the day is the news, broken last night by the New York Times, that Hilary Clinton exclusively used private email accounts to conduct official business while she was Secretary of State. This apparent gross violation of federal recordkeeping laws provides the perfect segue to….The Top Five Transparency Abuses at Obama’s EPA. I’d be remiss if I failed to note that all of these outrages were unearthed by my colleague Chris Horner, who literally wrote the book on how to use the Freedom of Information Act.
#5: EPA’s Routine Egregious Censorship
The Freedom of Information Act allows citizens to petition federal agencies for information. However, not all information is subject to these requests; the statute stipulates a number of exemptions. And of these exemptions, the broadest (and, therefore, most vulnerable to abuse) is known as the “b(5)” exemption, after its statutory provision (5 U.S.C. §552(b)(5)). Indeed, Obama’s EPA has broken new ground in the application of “b(5),” such that the censor’s pen renders entire FOIA productions black. I wish I were kidding—we post the evidence here. It’s a Kafkaesque.
#4: EPA’s Unequal Treatment of FOIA Requests
It goes without saying that civil servants should treat all citizens equally. EPA, however, treats right-of-center groups differently than “progressive” groups. According to data compiled by my colleague Chris Horner, there exists a huge disparity between the agency’s granting of fee waivers depending on what you believe, whereby green groups virtually always received one, and conservative groups almost never got one.
Here’s what we know: EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy conducted business via text and then destroyed the records of her correspondence, in blatant contravention of federal recordkeeping laws. Read a brief summary here.
#2: The Fall of EPA Region 8 administrator James Martin
Ex-EPA Region 8 administrator James Martin is the only casualty of the agency’s risible record on transparency. (After all, this administration claims to be “the most transparent, ever”). Martin conducted business on a private email account, and then got caught lying about it before a federal court. He abruptly resigned (for “personal reasons”) very shortly thereafter. My colleague Chris Horner has uncovered similar usage of private email accounts by EPA administrators for Regions 9 and 2. The behavior was so widespread that the Senate EPW minority staff (in the 113th Congress) wrote a report about it.
#1: Richard Windsor (of course)
The one, the only—Richard Windsor, a.k.a. Lisa Jackson. I mean, she corresponded exclusively in an alias. The only thing sketchier than that is what Hilary did.