CEI Rolling Out New “Richard Windsor” Revelations

by Chris Horner on February 10, 2016

in Blog

CEI’s discovery in late 2012 of then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s false-identity “Richard Windsor” email account drew a fair amount of attention at the time.  Some media outlets, realizing they may have been getting the runaround from the “most transparent administration, ever” along with the rest of us, set off on broader campaigns to root out other tricks.  A Windsor-inspired AP inquiry prompted headlines like these.

CEI was forced to sue to get the Windsor emails it at first sought.  The first revelations, from just emails with certain “climate”-related keywords, painted a picture of an agency out of control, sweating the policy sheets with media allies and green group lobbyists…the few they hadn’t brought in-house to ply their trade. We then sought all emails on that false-flag account.   EPA said it would slow-walk this second request to the pitiful tune of 100 emails per month, for the next century.  So we sued.

In the meantime, the Windsor affair became notorious while leaving some in the media confused, possibly unsure that this was such a bad thing so long as it was the right kind of administration doing these things.  As recently as last month it was still being twisted by apologists at the Washington Post, whose reportage of yet another investigation sparked by Windsor included pure invention: “The 2012 request by CREW was sparked by the discovery that Lisa Jackson, then-administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, had been using an alias email at work with the name “Richard Windsor,” largely for personal communication.”

There having been a handful of personal-ish emails among the many tens of thousands of responsive pages— which are largely available, specifically set-aside, online — this is simply made up.  In fact this email account was Jackson’s principal account for corresponding with senior EPA officials, other cabinet officers, White House staff, and the odd lobbyist (CEI’s litigation also revealed that Jackson used her actual personal account, with Verizon, used for corresponding with lobbyists from industry and green pressure groups).

So, we are now digesting EPA’s final productions of our Windsor litigation. One item from which reminds us of the tangled web Jackson weaved.  As our friends at the Washington Free Beacon report about a particular email chain we obtained, Jackson sounded an all-hands alert among senior EPA officials to bail out Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors from “several million dollar impact”, “as well as a very difficult public relations issue”.  Not to mention hundreds of ticked off and well-heeled customers ready to bad-mouth their expensive playthings dependent upon subsidies from all taxpayers.

For the simple reason that Musk went through the channels set forth for such purposes, Musk did not see an immediate response.  So his in-house guy forwarded the note to a senior Jackson aide, copying a lobbyist for a firm which boasts of a practice of working EPA — explaining to clients how they might be able to benefit from regulations proposed by EPA, “keeping an eye on federal programs that could be a source of funding” and with “staff members who make healthy contributions to political campaigns”; coincidentally, that firm “lobbied for two of the biggest names in the [sic] energy technology — Tesla Motors, the high-end electric car maker, and Solyndra…”

According to Jackson, Musk’s plea for her to waive her magic wand and toss Tesla the “Certificate of Conformity” the rest of the electric vehicle world must apply for “went to an incorrect email.”  Well, no, in fact Musk wrote to jackson.lisa@epamail.epa.gov, the address by which, EPA told the public, they could petition the Administrator.

Once Musk’s request got through to her false-identity “Windsor” account, Jackson brought in now-Administrator Gina McCarthy and others, asking “what can be done?” The fire drill ended with same-day service and an email from Jackson to her senior aides, “Done. Elon replied to say thank you.”

This is the kind of public enlightenment that has resulted from CEI’s now-concluding litigation over emails on this account.  We are attempting to resolve this second suit, for the rest of the shadow-account’s correspondence; over the course of coming weeks we will provide further insight into its use.  This will involve piecing together these emails from the litigation productions with other items in the public domain, and others we have already obtained to fill in gaps.

Topics included in these emails, some of which require further followup, include the discovery of still more private email accounts used by EPA officials for work, texting and Blackberry PIN messages — no such PIN messages, or example, have ever been produced to Congress or to a FOIA requester, to our knowledge (only recently has EPA been forced to cough up a very limited number of its surviving text messages, CEI having discovered that now-Administrator Gina McCarthy turned to texting for thousands of correspondence, deleting every single one).

Also included are emails reflecting the influence of still more political supporters — from major donors to environmental pressure groups — the origins of the Windsor account, the EPA’s cozy relationship with the New York Times — despite the Grey Lady’s occasional straying — and this EPA’s thorough politicization.

Notably, other “Windsor” emails will play a role soon in briefing in the D.C. Circuit on the greenhouse gas rules just stayed by the Supreme Court.  If not for this discovery, we would never have pieced together the amazing story and specific timeline of how the basis of these rules, drafted by environmentalist pressure groups using an EPA official’s Yahoo email account, ultimately landed in Richard Windsor’s Inbox.

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