The free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute is suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its extremely slow release of emails related to chief Lisa Jackson’s alias email account. CEI says that at its current pace, EPA will fulfill the group’s government records request in 100 years.
In 2012, CEI requested records regarding Jackson’s alias email account under the name “Richard Windsor” — an address she used to communicate with government officials and green groups while avoiding federal transparency laws. CEI sued and eventually got 3,000 “Richard Windsor” emails from EPA, but that was only the tip of the iceberg.
The EPA says there are about 120,000 records related to CEI’s Freedom of Information Act request, but the agency claims it can only process about 100 records per month — meaning CEI’s FOIA request will be fully processed in about 100 years.
In a statement, CEI senior fellow and attorney Chris Horner said:
We have shown this administration using whatever tactics it can – even violating the law – to hide what is going on in our federal agencies, whether it’s Hillary Clinton’s personal email account, Lisa Jackson working with lobbyists on her own private account, utilizing text messages, then destroying them, or this slow-rolling production of Richard Windsor emails for a century.
CEI also says that EPA refuses to process other FOIA requests made by the group until its “Richard Windsor” request is completed. That is, unless CEI agrees to put the “Windsor” records request on hold.
“What are they trying to hide? If previously uncovered Windsor emails are any indication, it ranges from the embarrassing to the unlawful,” Horner said. “Hillary Clinton and EPA’s Richard Windsor both seem to be on the administration’s transparency dodgeball team, dodging the public’s requests to know what they’re up to.”
Horner has been investigating EPA email practices for years, uncovering in 2012 the fact that former agency head Jackson was using an email account under the alias “Richard Windsor” to hide communications from the public. This discovery lead to a massive release of emails revealing that many other top EPA officials were using private email accounts to conduct agency business.
CEI’s new lawsuit comes after news that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was using a private email account on a privately held server to conduct official State Department business. After requests from the government, Clinton handed over 55,000 pages of emails from her private account and said she deleted about 30,000 other emails she claims were private in nature.
Clinton also claimed she sent no classified information from her email account, but failed to soothe any skepticism the press has over her use of a private email account while being the top U.S. diplomat.
What rankles CEI most about the EPA’s slow record processing pace is that the agency has already been criticized in the past for stonewalling FOIA requests from conservative groups and states critical of agency rules.
In 2013, CEI obtained documents showing that since January 2012, the agency granted fee waivers for 92% of FOIA requests from major environmental groups all while rejecting or ignoring 81% of fee-waiver requests from conservative groups.
Soon after CEI made this revelation, 12 states sued the EPA for records relating to “sue and settle” lawsuits the agency has engaged in with environmental groups. States said the lawsuit came after their FOIA request for this information had been stonewalled by the agency.
This report, by Michael Bastasch, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.