Former EPA Administrator Defiant over Use of Email Aliases
When the email exchange happened, Taylor was a lobbyist for Siemens and had asked Jackson if she could meet with Siemens’ chief sustainability officer, Taylor’s boss.
Jackson agreed and shortly after sent an email, saying: “P.S. Can you use my home email rather than this one when you need to contact me directly? Tx, Lisa.”
The EPA has said Jackson’s second account was hosted on the agency’s servers and fully accessible under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Nevertheless, the agency has also informed the committee that most of the information it requested no longer exists.
“In the case of your activities using personal accounts, we will not get full discovery. The public will not get it. The fact is EPA has not met its responsibility for transparency,” Issa said.
Republican lawmakers on Monday issued a report accusing the EPA of violating transparency regulations in pursuit of its policy goals.
The 30-page report, prepared by Republican members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, primarily focuses on EPA activities under Jackson.
The report accuses the EPA of being unresponsive to FOIA requests, often redacting information and mismanaging its electronic records system.
“From day one of the Obama administration, the EPA has pursued a path of obfuscation, operating in the shadows, and out of legally required sunlight,” the report said. “Specifically, the agency established an alias identity to hide the actions of [Jackson].”
David Ferriero, the U.S. archivist, said that use of an alias email is allowed as long as the messages are preserved and produced in response to a request for records.
“The National Archives discourages the use of private e-mail accounts to conduct federal business, but understands that there are situations where such use does occur,” Ferriero said. In a notice yesterday, the archives advised agencies that private email accounts should be avoided for public business and any messages to alias government email addresses be captured as part of federal records.
The hearing also featured Garry Gensler, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, who an internal investigation found regularly used his personal email for government business, and former Energy Department loan office director Jonathan Silver, who took frequent criticism from the GOP during the committee’s investigation of the failed solar panel manufacturer Solyndra in 2011. The company received a $535 million loan guarantee from the Obama administration in 2010.
Silver acknowledged regularly using his private email for work but denied it was an effort to avoid scrutiny. Before today’s hearing, an individual with the law firm representing Silver asked committee staff not to directly question Silver, according to Issa.
“This one crosses the line,” Issa said, as he asked a staffer to put a copy of the email up on a screen in the room.
He said this was a clear attempt to interfere with Congress and that he would consider referring the matter to the American Bar Association.