Unanswered Questions Remain Regarding EPA Administrator’s ‘Richard Windsor’ Alias

Dec 18, 2012

Washington D.C. –Members of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee today sent follow-up letters to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson and to White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, once again requesting records related to the use of dual, secondary, or non-public email accounts.

The letter to Administrator Jackson questions whether the use of alias accounts can corrupt agency records. “While we understand the need for a secondary account for management and communications purposes, your choice to use a false identity remains baffling,” the Members wrote.  “We remain concerned about whether EPA has adequately preserved these records and provided appropriate responses to requests for these records.  We also question whether responses to records requests sufficiently connect the alias accounts to the real individual.”

In a letter to the Committee on December 12, 2012, EPA’s congressional affairs office confirmed the use of a second email account used by Administrator Jackson, but the Agency failed to provide any of the records requested in the Committee’s November 15 letter.

The EPA Office of Inspector General (OIG) further confirmed on December 13, 2012 its plan to conduct an audit of EPA’s electronic management practices. Specifically, the OIG is going to “determine whether EPA follows applicable laws and regulations when using private and alias email accounts to conduct official business.”

In the follow-up letter sent to White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, the Members criticized the incomplete response provided by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to the Committee’s November 15 letter.  OSTP simply affirmed that it has “policies and procedures to facilitate the preservation of records,” and that staff would undergo additional refresher training in the coming weeks.  In the follow-up letter, the Members wrote that these policies appear to have done little to dissuade OSTP staff from using private email accounts to hide from transparency.

“While I understand that OSTP has policies and procedures in place, it remains to be seen whether or not they are sufficient,” the Members wrote.  The letter asserts that such a lack of attention to transparency undermines the President’s previously-stated commitment to create an unprecedented level of openness in Government.

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).