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EPA Officials Investigated for Using Alias Names in Email Communications to Avoid Freedom of Information Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and others are under investigation for allegedly using alias email accounts to conduct official government business.  The EPA’s Office of Inspector General says it will follow up on allegations its officers used such aliases to shield their communications from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

Chris Horner of the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute says he discovered Jackson’s “false identity” while doing research for his book, “The Liberal War on Transparency.” His research, he says, revealed that Jackson used the name “Richard Windsor” on an official emails account through which she sent emails about the administration’s coal policy.

According to Horner, he found a buried EPA memo showing that the alias email accounts were instituted by former EPA Administrator Carol Browner, who designed her own secret address for an account that was set to ‘auto-delete.’ Browner served as President Obama’s director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy from 2009 to 2011and before that as EPA administrator during the Clinton administration.

Horner says the Justice Department, in response to a lawsuit filed by CEI, has admitted that 12,000 emails from Jackson’s “secondary” email account discuss the Obama administration’s “war on coal.”

“’Richard Windsor.’ 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,” Horner wrote last month on National Review Online.

Rep. Cliff Stearns (Rep-FL), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, says it is likely that other EPA officials also used secondary email accounts, thus impeding Congress’ ability to conduct oversight of the EPA.

“In addition to interfering with transparency at the EPA, these practices could be used to avoid requests made under the Freedom of Information Act and congressional scrutiny,” Stearns wrote in a recent letter to Lisa Jackson. Stearns and Representative Fred Upton (Rep-MI) have requested for Jackson to “describe fully the nature and extent of this practice.”

The EPA’s Office of Inspector General said it is conducting its audit “to determine whether EPA follows applicable laws and regulations when using private and alias email accounts to conduct official business.”

Among other things, it will examine whether EPA “promoted or encouraged the use of private or alias email accounts to conduct official government business.”

“Hopefully the IG and House committees can get to the bottom of this and other deceptive, unlawful and in some cases criminal practices to hide what the Obama administration and its allies are up to,” CEI’s Horner said on Monday.

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