March 20, 2013

Republicans take aim at another EPA administrator for use of private email account

Congressional Republicans have set their sights on another top Environmental Protection Agency official because of concerns that he was using a private email account to conduct official business, possibly skirting public disclosure laws.

Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa sent a letter to EPA Region 9 Administrator Jared Blumenfeld, asking him to confirm that he has not used a private email account to conduct agency work.

“We are concerned that your use of a personal e-mail account, other than your official account, is demonstrative of a larger problem at EPA,” reads the letter from Vitter and Issa. “Accordingly, we call on you as a Regional Administrator to stand up for the interest of transparency and cooperate with our ongoing investigation into the inappropriate use of non-official e-mail accounts to conduct Agency business.”

EPA emails that have been released as part of a lawsuit by the Competitive Enterprise Institute showed that Blumenfeld used an unofficial email address to send a message to former Administrator Lisa Jackson’s alias email account “Richard Windsor.”

“It has come to our attention that you used a non-official e-mail account to send a message that related to your official duties to then-Administrator Lisa Jackson’s Richard Windsor alias account,” the letter continues. “There does not appear to be any emergency circumstances justifying the use of a non-official e-mail account. Moreover, the fact that the e-mail was sent to Administrator Jackson’s alias account heightens our concern.”

“This is a ‘culture’ issue, in that Obama administration appointees aggressively use private accounts, even a false identity account,” Chris Horner, Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow and author of the book “The Liberal War on Transparency,” told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“But no one should be surprised, as the majority of these administrators are activists who came into their position after a professional lifetime of work for radical green pressure groups,” said Horner, who is the man behind the EPA emails lawsuit.

The released emails also show that other top EPA officials were using private accounts to conduct official business, including acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe.

“Despite the clear policy prohibiting use of personal emails, we understand that several high ranking EPA officials, including Acting Administrator Perciasepe, have used their personal e-mail account for official purposes,” the letter reads.

Accordng to the released emails, Perciasepe was using an unofficial “” email account to conduct official business.

This discovery came on the heels of the resignation of EPA Region 8 administrator James Martin. The Daily Caller News Foundation reported that Martin used his private “” email account to correspond with environmental activists. (RELATED: What was key EPA official hiding?)

Vitter and Issa started an investigation into Martin’s email activity, looking into concerns that he may be trying to evade federal transparency laws.

EPA rules tell employees “not use any outside e-mail account to conduct official Agency business.” If a non-EPA email system is used in an emergency situation, employees are responsible for saving email records and attachments.

“The next shoe to drop is their use of Instant Messaging, which thanks to FOIA I’ve learned was used for certain sensitive discussions — like creating the ‘Richard Windsor’ account,” Horner said.

EPA Region 9 did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.


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