Senator Vitter calls EPA FOI release “fishy”

For Immediate Release
Contact: Luke Bolar (202) 224-4623
January 15, 2013

Vitter: Lisa Jackson’s “Richard Windsor” Emails Released are Fishy

Vitter suggests EPA may be violating FOIA standards

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-La.) made the following statement today after the outgoing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson released a portion of her emails that have been under scrutiny for using a secondary email alias, “Richard Windsor.” The EPA has also redacted names in the emails using a Freedom of Information Act exemption that does not apply to the released emails.

“This strikes me as incredibly fishy and begs a number of important questions,” Vitter said.

“The EPA needs to honor the President’s pledge of transparency and release these documents without redaction of the Administrator’s email address – a big first step toward removing the blanket of secrecy in this agency.”

EPA redacted the email address used by Administrator Jackson citing FOIA exemption B6 – an exemption only to be used to protect personal privacy. The application of exemption B6 to a work email address for the EPA Administration would not apply. Additionally EPA has previously relied on a different FOIA exemption to redact the Administrator’s alias account in other document productions.

Among the most important of questions is whether EPA made a material misrepresentation to Congress when it responded to House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Chairman Ralph Hall on December 12, 2012.  In this response to Congress, the EPA Associate Administrator cited a long-standing practice for Agency Administrators to use two email accounts, one for public use and one for “everyday, working email[s].”  Evidence of EPA precedent for multiple email accounts is defined in a 2008 memo to the National Archives and Records Administration, which explained that “secondary e-mail accounts are configured so the account holder’s name appears in the ‘sent by’ field.”  However, if this were the case, then there would be no need to redact the email address as EPA routinely releases emails that contain “Lisa P. Jackson” in the “to” or “sent” fields and it would not be considered to be “personal information.”

“EPA’s supposed reliance on ‘precedent’ is especially misleading because they’re clearly using a separate and distinct practice than previous Administrations. And if ‘Richard Windsor’ is no more than a standard work email account, why not share the unredacted versions and prove it to the American public?” asked Vitter.

When the email investigation was made public, Vitter suggested that Lisa Jackson may have resigned in part because of this.

· Click here to read the December 12, 2012 letter from the EPA Associate Administrator to House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Chairman Ralph Hall.

· Click here to read the April 11, 2008 EPA letter from EPA Agency Records Officer John Ellis to the National Archives and Records Administration.

· Click here to read the January 14, 2013 EPA-Released Documents.

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53 thoughts on “Senator Vitter calls EPA FOI release “fishy”

  1. Free the EPA information

    Do it now.

    This absurd EPA resistance to release of court ordered freedom of EPA information can only mean there is something very bad that the EPA wants to hide. There is no reasonable plausible other explanation.

    EXECUTIVE OFFICE IMPLICATED IN COURT ORDERED EPA EMAIL RELEASE? Who wants to bet the Executive Office (US President) is involved in some serious bad behavior wrt the EPA? That would raise the government’s willingness to stonewall by several orders of magnitude.

    CEI, I thank you for your focus on this problematic EPA secretive behavior.

    John

  2. I have no faith any of this will be resolved to the satisfaction of the EPA’s critics. I become more cynical with each passing year.

  3. Here is the transparency standard Obama formally demanded:
    Transparency and Open Government

    Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies
    SUBJECT: Transparency and Open Government

    My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.

    Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public. . . .

    I direct the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Administrator of General Services, to coordinate the development by appropriate executive departments and agencies, within 120 days, of recommendations for an Open Government Directive, to be issued by the Director of OMB, that instructs executive departments and agencies to take specific actions implementing the principles set forth in this memorandum. The independent agencies should comply with the Open Government Directive.

    This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by a party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

    This memorandum shall be published in the Federal Register.

    BARACK OBAMA

  4. Please, let US all eschew “beg the question.”

    1. (philosophy, logic) To engage in the logical fallacy of begging the question (petitio principii).
    2. (proscribed) To raise or prompt a question.

  5. It’s time bring these government servants into court and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. They are not representing the constitution, the American people or what were once regarded as fundamental American principles.

  6. The problem is the perps will NEVER, EVER release any information damaging to themselves. Even if required by law. These people feel that laws only apply to the little people. No one in this administration will ever get more than a slap on the wrist for disregarding the law.

  7. This is going to get much bigger.

    Jackson is already on her way out, so what else or who else are they so keen to cover up here?

    Redacting the sender’s address is so obviously unnecessary (if they are telling the truth) and the grounds for doing so, so obviously not applicable they must trying to hide more than the use of a sole “Richard Windsor” alias.

    I suspect Chris Hohner’s persistence is going to reap more rewards than he suspected.

  8. Not just fishy; but unrefrigerated, week-old fish. Brought to you courtesy of the “most transparent administration, ever”.

  9. “My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy”

    Ahha. The weasel words. He can,and has, changed both laws and policy by executive order. So why not a few FOIA rules,laws,and policies?

  10. “This strikes me as incredibly fishy and begs a number of important questions,” Vitter said.

    If this is an accurate quote from the Senator it is disappointing. If it was written by his press person it is even more disappointing. The EPA redaction raises a number of important questions; it does not beg them. See Petitio Principii.

  11. . .oh to have someone in the EPA (or other close government agency that can access EPA e-mails,docs, servers, etc), to accomplish the same thing as that wonderful person in the CRU at the Univ. of East Anglia . . . !

    . . . well, we can dream, can’t we . . . oh, and if someone who reads this blog is in that situation, please take this as a request . . .!

  12. Doug Huffman says:
    January 15, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Sorry Doug; I didn’t notice you’d already covered my pet peeve over “beg the question”.

  13. apachewhoknows says:
    January 15, 2013 at 12:12 pm
    It is fishey and wraped in “The Chicago Way” fish wrap.
    =========================
    In other news, 18 human heads are found at O’Hare airport…

  14. Dave says: January 15, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    … They are not representing the constitution, the American people or what were once regarded as fundamental American principles.

    Yeah, they are representing their foreign lobbyists who want access to our wealth, technology, IP, and markets (low tariffs) AND, they want our government to put reins on our economy and way of life so they can catch up somewhere to us during our downfall. (Contraction and Convergence?)

  15. Doug Huffman says:
    January 15, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Please, let US all eschew “beg the question.”
    ================================
    Dude’s a congresscritter. Cut him some slack.

  16. In keeping with the Orwellian practice of modern government, we can expect the opposite to be true of almost every claim made at the top. They are attempting to, “bring peace to the Middle East” and “reduce the deficit” and “lower taxes for those who make under $200,000.” The man in charge claimed that he would personally ensure the “most transparent government, ever.” He also promised to defend the Constitution of the United States of America, to close Gitmo, and to cause the seas to begin to recede.

    Is there anyone who actually thinks the government will suddenly start telling us the truth? Not me.

  17. The time frame of interest would be the middle of 2009 through 2010. This was when the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 was defeated in the Senate, and President Obama directed the EPA to make an end run around Congress with regulations on Carbon Dioxide. Emails during this time are probably secured below the event horizon. Should Mr. Chris Horner get too close to one of these emails, watch for the impenetrable shield of “executive privilege” to be invoked à la “Fast and Furious”.

  18. It’s the fault of George W. Bush. This administration is the most honest, open, transparent in the history of the republic. What with the Czars running around, reporting directly to the Chief Executive, surely we know what they are all doing. After all, shadow heads of government departments are accountable to… well, someone. We want to reduce the deficit too, but “responsibly”.
    And pigs fly. 1984 came and stayed.

  19. Let us hope the intrepid insider that provided the screen shots has copied a large number of the emails before they were deleted. All the names have been redacted because the addressees were also likely using aliases in their accounts as well. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a way to enforce the court order in a meaningful way, as we know that Holder is as useless as teats on a boar.

  20. The problem is that people use e-mails like personal phone calls, not being very careful about language and internal political comments. Just like people used to use the internet in the office as if it were personal, go places they wouldn’t want others to know about. We’ve moved beyond privacy wrt internet sites, but are only now addressing the other.

    E-mails need to be seen as potential legal documents. Maybe some of the bad behaviour will stop if people realise that they don’t want to be connected publicly to someone else’s issues – like how sexist and racist jokes stopped being publicly acceptable. So then “Mike’s nature trick” wouldn’t happen, because nobody would want to be associated with doing it or condoning it.

  21. Doug Huffman says: January 15, 2013 at 12:27 pm
    Please, let US all eschew “beg the question.”

    Hear, hear!

    This all started out almost impossible to understand because it was set out so opaquely (repeated use of ‘beg the question’ didn’t help) but the strategy of slowly realeasing the extra infomation they have from their mole inside EPA is excellent (in a Mr Burns way) and almost too painful to watch as it slowly becomes clearer what is going on.

  22. Maybe, copies of the emails do exist and our insider friend as waiting for a Perry Mason moment. How cool would that be?

  23. “The EPA needs to honor the President’s pledge of transparency and release these documents without redaction of the Administrator’s email address – a big first step toward removing the blanket of secrecy in this agency.”
    ================================================================================
    Apparently to Obama et al, “transparency” means “You can’t see what we’re doing.”

  24. Dave says:
    January 15, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    It’s time bring these government servants into court and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Just build a wall with Concertina wire on top around D.C, and install prison guards. It would be faster, easier and cheaper.

  25. Following the DOJ playbook, the next step will be the EPA (Email Protection Agency) refusing to release the next bunch of emails. “We’ve already have given you thousands of emails,” they will say.

    Then the will relent and schedule a meeting to allow to view them, but not make copies. They will show up the meeting empty handed, but willing to answer any questions about the email (off the record of course).

  26. It’s probably about scaring the Western world toward International Socialism, or as Chavez put it, get rid of capitalism?

  27. Al Gore says:
    January 15, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    It’s probably about scaring the Western world toward International Socialism, or as Chavez put it, get rid of capitalism?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    They got rid of capitalism in 1913. This is all about getting rid of what is left of our national sovereignty (Westphalian sovereignty.) Heck the UN has already taken over our parks and now has ultimate jurisdiction. SEE: World Heritage Sites Bush talked of ‘harmonizing US laws’ and Congress passed a food safety law that handed regulation of our agriculture over to the World Trade Organization.

    The fact the politicians are getting very blunt about it is NOT a good sign. This is what Bill Clinton and Bush senior pushed for:

    Of What Use is Global Governance?
    by Pascal Lamy, Director, World Trade Organization (WTO)

    …The essence of the E.U. is already at the heart of this first initiative: the creation of an area of joint sovereignty, a space in which members agree to manage their relationship without the constant need for international treaties. What characterizes the paradigm of European governance is, thus, the combination of three elements: political will, a defined goal, and an institutional structure. The method of governance employed is certainly a major technological leap from Westphalian principles. One innovation is the primacy of E.U. law over national law; another is the existence of a commission with a monopoly on legislative initiative; a third is the creation of a court whose decisions are binding on national courts; a fourth is the creation of a bicameral parliamentary system with, on one side, the Council that represents member states, and on the other, the European Parliament that represents the citizens. These are major institutional innovations, of course….

    A government that is as secretive and as obviously working against the best interests of its people as the US government has for decades is getting very very dangerous.

  28. I’m glad one of my Senators is willing to speak up about this scandal. I really don’t understand why the American Petroleum Institute runs radio ads for Mary Landrieu, when it’s clear she’s nothing but a fair weather energy supporter. You’ll never hear her weigh in on this, unless it’s some sort of defense of Jackson.

  29. Looks like a play for time to me. Stall until Richard Windsor is further away from the top spot and hopefully it all blows over. Pretty soon, the tune will change to “Why focus on that old news when there is important work to be done saving the world!?!”

  30. Annonn says:

    In other news, 18 human heads are found at O’Hare airport…

    Let me guess… they were under a bus?

    Too bad there aren’t any more investigative reporters. They’d be asking the tough questions and ripping the lid off this scandal. Oh well… they’re all in the pay of “Big Zero”.

  31. ‘The EPA has also redacted names in the emails ‘ to be expected the chance are Jackson was not the only one playing this game , remember their the person that sets the culture for the whole organisation.
    So they know that once other ‘ useful ‘ aliases come out people will FOI them too.

  32. John Whitman said:
    January 15, 2013 at 12:15 pm
    This absurd EPA resistance to release of court ordered freedom of EPA information can only mean there is something very bad that the EPA wants to hide. There is no reasonable plausible other explanation.
    —————————–
    Maybe the patrician occupants of the EPA and the Offal Office simply consider it to be none of our business.

  33. I am new here, so I am sure this is in the works, but the request needed is a database search for all addresses that have names that do not match an employee ssn or an ssn with two addresses..

    Lame excuses and slandered truths are easy until you are personally sitting in front of a jury and the judge demands that you answer the question. Only then will the story unravel.

  34. I would like to see EPA funding scrutinized and all applicable funds withheld until honest and open answers are provided to Congress and the public.

  35. I read the link to the January 14, 2013 EPA-Released Documents (given above), and the last item in the group should start another round of FOIA requests; it actually has names of people that KNEW about the “Richard Windsor” account (likewise the list of CC attached).

    Not sure if all those people work “for” the EPA – if any of them work outside the agency, it kinda puts a snag in the “for internal use only” theme they’re trying to use.

    A quick search finds most of the names listed as working WITH the EPA – (such as Daniel Kanninen, who served as the EPA’s White House liaison).

    And one even showed up here before – Alisha Johnson (listed on line as “an EPA spokeswoman”) – http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/11/21/epa-email-dogs-and-all-that/.

    So she SHOULD have known about the secret account – she was CC’d on one of the messages.

  36. What we have is not government of the people, by the people,for the people – we have government of the government, by the government, for the government. Under this system “transparency” is the epitome of opacity,and fraud is the most honest way. Orwell would have loved it. Doublespeak lives!
    I sincerely hope to see Lisa Jackson and her accomplices prosecuted. They have done enormous harm. But I ain’t holding my breath waiting for that to happen.

  37. A bad day for dogs yesterday. Nipper (HMV, His Master’s Voice) and poor Tatler Alan at Vogue House in London. Time to get Kenji on this case perhaps? He can show his UCS card at EPA security.

  38. Transparency and Open Government

    Releasing documents written with transparent characters on transparent background. Now, how cool that would be?

  39. And we’re supposed to entrust our climate to these people? Somebody open the blinds, it’s getting shady in here.

  40. What a waste of time and effort.
    I mean for the administrator at the EPA who was told to cut and paste all those news clips about the EPA.

  41. Berényi Péter says: January 15, 2013 at 11:52 pm Transparency and Open Government
    …transparent characters on transparent background.

    Recent case here in UK of Govt. document redacted by using white font. Unfortunately they attached it as a Word document.

  42. KNR brings up a good point. The Richard Windsor emails are going to bring other alias email addresses to light. We’re going to find aliases talking to other aliases. Then the search will be for the actual identities connected to the aliases. This could turn out to be a real eye-opening can of worms for our “rulers”.

    Dave T

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