CREW Calls for Investigation of Secret EPA Email Accounts
Washington, D.C. — Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Inspector General (IG) Arthur A. Elkins, Jr. to investigate whether EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and other EPA employees established alias email accounts and are using private email accounts to conduct official business. Recent news reports have detailed how Administrator Jackson has used alias email accounts to conduct official business in order to shield the contents of her messages and to avoid having her emails subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and other public records requests. Additionally, some EPA employees reportedly have set up private email accounts to conduct official business. Such conduct violates the Federal Records Act (FRA). There are allegations that at least some of these practices were first developed when Carol Browner served as administrator during the Clinton administration.
“Administrator Jackson’s practice of using fictitious email accounts to conduct official EPA business, shielding the contents from public view, conflicts directly with her responsibility to follow federal records law,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “The fact that others may have engaged in such conduct before her tenure is no justification. ‘Everybody does it’ is an excuse for kindergarteners, not cabinet officials.”
The FRA requires agencies to make and preserve records of agency decisions, policies, and essential transactions, and to take steps to safeguard against the loss of agency records. If EPA employees, including Administrator Jackson, use alias accounts or private email addresses to send official email and the agency neither tracks nor stores these messages, the agency would be in clear violation of the FRA.
“Complying with the Federal Records Act is not optional,” continued Ms. Sloan. “The EPA’s illegal and devious practices undermine the ability of Congress, outside watchdog groups, and citizens alike to request and receive full information from the agency. The IG should investigate immediately to ensure messages are being properly saved and learn what, exactly, it is that Administrator Jackson and other EPA employees are trying to hide from the American public.”