Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson announced her resignation on Thursday. Many reports are coming out that Jackson is leaving before there can be an investigation launched into the EPA’s alleged illegal use of private emails for official government business.
Federal law bars government employees from using private email accounts for official communications unless the emails are appropriately stored and can be tracked. The objective is to ensure open government.
Suspicions led the Environmental Protection Agency inspector general to launch a probe into Jackson’s email use and prompted at least two congressional committees to dig around as well.
What we now know is that Arvin Ganesan, EPA associate administrator for congressional and intergovernmental affairs, confirmed to six interested House members on Dec. 12 that Jackson did indeed use the name “Richard Windsor” in secret email exchanges on a private account.
So what is consumed to have been communicated in these emails?
According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a lawsuit that demanded the release of the emails and believes that “relate to the war on coal Jackson was orchestrating on behalf of President Obama outside the appropriate democratic process.”
CEI also issued a statement on Thursday that read:
We believe EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has chosen the proper course by resigning. As the focus of an investigation by her agency’s own inspector general and inquiries from at least two committees of Congress, she no longer could effectively serve as administrator of the EPA.
We also believe the timing was no accident. She claims to have told President Obama shortly after his re-election she planned to leave in early 2013, but her announcement went public just days after the Justice Department agreed – as a result of a lawsuit filed by CEI – to begin producing 12,000 emails from her “Richard Windsor” alias account. The emails relate to the war on coal Jackson was orchestrating on behalf of President Obama outside the appropriate democratic process.
Unchecked, her use of an alias email account to conduct official business – which CEI Senior Fellow Christopher Horner exposed in his book The Liberal War On Transparency – could set a dangerous precedent in which those who administer massive public agencies attempt to do the peoples’ business using secret names.
But this scandal cannot end with Jackson’s resignation. She appears to have illegally evaded deliberative procedures and transparency requirements set in law – as did the federal appointees and career employees with whom she communicated through her alias email account. She must be held to account, as must those others – both to assure the peoples’ business is done in public and to send a signal to other high-level government officials this conduct cannot and will not be tolerated.
Meanwhile, CEI will continue to try to get to the bottom of Jackson’s efforts to evade public scrutiny of her actions. We have and will continue to pursue what we have determined to be widespread similar behavior including private email accounts, private computers and privately owned computer servers used to hide discussions that, by law, must be open to scrutiny and be part of the public record. The administration has admitted the agency has destroyed documents in apparent violation of the federal criminal code, and we intend to continue to investigate and expose these attempts to hide the agency’s actions.
Apparently, Jackson will also be attempting to evade another investigation which involves the EPA’s air pollution research. According to the Washington Times, the Inspector General Carolyn Copper’s November memorandum that the IG will “begin an evaluation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Research on Human Subjects.”
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