And what is Richard Windsor hiding from taxpayers?
My colleague Chris Horner uncovered some evidence that the EPA has created a secret e-mail account for EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, under the alias Richard Windsor, in order (presumably) to shield her communications from federal Freedom of Information Act requests:
The name “Richard Windsor,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s alleged secret alias email account, has been found to appear in an agency email thread that was released by a liberal group earlier this year.
The Center for Progressive Reform released emails obtained earlier this year from a Freedom of Information Act request that detail top EPA officials’ frustrations over a White House letter to House GOP leadership that did not spell out the reported benefits of certain regulations.
The emails included several top EPA officials, including EPA Press Secretary Betsaida Alcantara, EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, and then EPA White House Liaison Daniel Kanninen. The emails also included a Richard Windsor, who features prominently in the released emails, but a search on the EPA staff directory reveals no one with that name.
“That is the name — sorry, one of the alias names — used by Obama’s radical EPA chief to keep her email from those who ask for it,” said Chris Horner, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and author of the new book “The Liberal War on on Transparency,” meaning there could be more “alias” accounts.
The name Richard Windsor was revealed to Horner by two former EPA officials who contacted him while he was researching his book and gave him one of the email alias names used by EPA Chief Jackson.
Unfortunately, this might not be legal. It is okay for agencies to establish internal e-mail accounts that are not known to the public, such that government employees don’t have to wade through the thousands of e-mails a public address might receive, but it seems that a hidden account under a different name could be set up to avoid Freedom of Information Act Requests:
Federal law prohibits the government from using private emails for official communications unless they are appropriately stored and can be tracked. Because things look suspicious at the EPA, the House Science Committee is investigating the possibility that the agency has conducted business it doesn’t want the public to see.
On Friday, the committee delivered letters to the EPA and “various agency inspectors general” seeking to find out if “senior personnel have been conducting official business through secretive means such as aliases and private email accounts.”
The letters, sent by committee Republican members, express concern that “senior Obama Administration appointees” might be violating the Federal Records Act, Freedom of Information Act, the Presidential Records Act, and “other statutes designed to facilitate transparency and oversight.”
Nearly two months ago, the Competitive Enterprise Institute sued the EPA over its refusal to produce information about the creation and use of secondary email accounts set up for the agency’s top level officials.
On Oct. 1, CEI said it “first learned of these non-public accounts from a previous Freedom of Information Act request that it filed earlier in the year after reading of it in a report by the Government Accountability Office.”
The Freedom of Information Act grants the public access to communications amongst government officials such that citizens are not kept in the dark as to the what’s and how’s of government action. Let us hope that the EPA complies with the law and that there aren’t any deep secrets about future plans buried in the e-mails.