Members Question Use of Secret Email Accounts by Top Obama Administration Officials

Nov 16, 2012

Washington D.C. – In letters today to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and various agency Inspectors General, members of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee questioned whether senior personnel have been conducting official business through secretive means such as aliases and private email accounts. 

Recent reports claimed that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson used an alias email address under the name “Richard Windsor” to conduct official Government business.  This reported incident follows similarly secretive and highly questionable methods of communication by senior officials at science agencies within the White House, Department of Commerce (DOC), and Department of Energy (DOE).

Federal law requires agencies to preserve all internal records associated with agency activities and prohibits the use of private email accounts for Government business, absent agency procedures to ensure tracking and storage of messages over such accounts.  The letters highlight concerns that such behavior by senior Obama Administration appointees may violate the Federal Records Act, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Presidential Records Act, and other statutes designed to facilitate transparency and oversight.

The use of alias and private accounts that are hidden from staff responsible for retaining and providing access to records calls into question the fidelity of previous responses to not only the public through FOIA, but also to the Office of the Inspector General as well as Congress.

Specifically, the Members sent a letter to EPA Administrator Jackson requesting documents related to the use of alias accounts, as well as letters to the White House Counsel and the Inspectors General of EPA, DOC, and DOE requesting a review of how the various agencies are complying with the law and fulfilling the President’s transparency pledge.

The letters were sent by Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX), Vice Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Committee Members, Reps. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Paul Broun (R-GA), and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Andy Harris (R-MD).