12/27/2012

'Richard Windsor' departure from EPA is a victory for transparency

Via-Washington Examiner


Mark Tapscott

Lisa Jackson's forthcoming departure from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is a major victory for transparency and accountability in Washington.

After years of whispers that EPA officials frequently used private email addresses, fake names and coded messages to circumvent the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, Jackson admitted recently to using "Richard Windsor" as her chosen nom de plume on a government email account.

That was her choice because it reminded her of a much-beloved family pet, she claimed. (At least she didn't ask how anybody could suspect a puppy lover like her of any wrongdoing.) The EPA inspector general opened an investigation into the matter because it is against federal law to use nonofficial or secret email addresses to conduct official business.

The EPA IG could hardly do otherwise. The use of private or secret emails enables high government muckety-mucks like Jackson to hide things about which they don't want the rest of us to know. But we don't need an investigation to know officials have been hiding bad things within the EPA for a very long time.



During the Clinton years, Carol Browner (a former senatorial aide to Vice President Gore) headed the EPA. She ordered the hard drive on her government computer to be reformatted and all backup tapes destroyed, just hours after a federal judge ordered her agency to preserve all agency email records. Only hopelessly naive or blindly partisan folks took seriously Browner's doe-eyed claim that it was all just a big mistake and she certainly wasn't trying to cover up anything. Nothing to see here, so move along, folks.

But nothing was done.

Then, in the course of litigation initiated a few months ago by Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Christopher Horner, an internal memo from the EPA's IT department turned up. It described the process for establishing and using secret email accounts.

That revelation sparked trench warfare among Jackson's EPA, a federal court, at least two committees in Congress, Horner and the CEI over thousands of other internal emails and documents likely to shed additional light on the illegalities going on at the environmental agency.

The conflict is far from over, and the odds favor some ugly revelations before any cease-fire is declared. Jackson's defenders will claim her departure has nothing to do with these matters. But Horner well makes the obvious point to the contrary: "It is not only implausible that Lisa Jackson's resignation was unrelated to her false identity, which we revealed, given how the obvious outcome and apparent objective of such subversion of transparency laws was intolerable. But it became an inevitability when, last week, the Department of Justice agreed (as a result of our lawsuit) to begin producing 12,000 of her 'Richard Windsor' alias accounts related to the war on coal Jackson was orchestrating on behalf of President Obama outside of the appropriate democratic process."

There's also this: Having held dozens of Jackson's most costly and controversial proposed regulations until after the election, the Obama administration is now releasing those regulatory bombs. Still having "Richard Windsor" at the EPA would have immeasurably complicated the legal and political battles occasioned by each of the new Jackson regulations.

Maybe, as Horner jokes, Jackson just wants to spend more time with her dog, but it's impossible not to think Jackson's sins against transparency account at least in part for her departure from the EPA.

Here's why this is so significant if you believe the public's business ought to be conducted in public: Nobody in government has ever gone to jail for violating the FOIA.

Jackson isn't going to jail, either, but at least now she won't be running the EPA under an alias.

10 comments:

  1. Thanks for the toolbox Jer. Thats exactly what I was talking about.
    This would be a great link as well. http://www.house.gov/legislative/
    That the calendar/legislative schedule. They seem to constantly want to watch us more and more. I have pledged,this year, to watch how they are wasting time as well as money.

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  2. Jer
    I just looked up the Senate Calendar and read a little bit. I can see I have my work cut out for me.
    I dont know all I dont understand but it looked like they were doing an appropriations bill for Defense. But it was for the last year. Not next!
    Is that what happens when you dont have a budget?
    BTW Amtrak was in this bill.Amtrak/defense?
    http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CCAL-112scal-2012-12-27/content-detail.html

    Its maddening I tell you. But I am going to start to find the time and send letters.

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  3. Thanks Spathy I'll put it in , I'm still figuring it out as i go so it may be disjointed for awhile, wile I organize it

    Jer

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    1. Thank you Jer!
      You are doing the hard work. I can barely remember a password or cut and paste. I have referred several people to your site. I dont want to be pushy,so I havent asked if they have lurked yet.

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  4. Hey Spathy
    I guess someone in finally investigating voter fraud...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wc3nrKMQVU&feature=player_embedded

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  5. From tea Party Members to BONNERS gut!

    Side bar: Local GOP Pushes Powerful Congressman to Oppose 'Treasonous' Boehner

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  6. I saw that Lat. I havent watched Fox in years. But its nice to know they have that segment. I dont care who they are. If they are a get out the vote GoFor to the President. This type of thing needs to be dealt with and with a broad deep reaching broom.

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    1. I meant to say. From the Gofer(go for) all the way up to the President. Any of them should be found and prosecuted.

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  7. Well heck Jer.
    That didnt take you too long(house schedule). You must be getting the hang of it.
    Now all I have to do is traverse the governmental twisted version of public access websites and decipher the crud they feed to us as information.
    But as much as I come to know I dont quite understand the happenings in our Legislative bodies.The more I realise that they arent very understandable and thats part of the reason for the situation we are in.
    I mean how difficult is it to cut trillions in spending,when there has been new trillions added in just the past 4.5 years.
    Just cut out what you just added!
    Am I being too simple?
    Or are they so twisted in games up there that they cant see the forest for the trees?

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  8. I can't even keep up with all that you post, Jer! And if I happen to read a particularly good article somewhere, it almost always shows up here. You have this site well organized by topic.

    Hi, spathy and Lat!

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