Former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Lisa Jackson, who resigned last year as she was being investigated on transparency issues, may have used her private email account and an alias to conduct official EPA business during her tenure. Doing so may have violated federal laws.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) obtained the emails in question as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. As the Free Beacon notes, “If federal employees use their private email for business, they must send the email to their official government account for record keeping purposes,” which Jackson may not have done. A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that the EPA may have had secret email accounts to skirt FOIA laws.
Jackson reportedly used a “Richard Windsor” alias to communicate with lobbyists.
According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s report, Alison Taylor, a vice president for Siemens who was a lobbyist for the company, “emailed Jackson’s ‘Richard Windsor’ account in December 2009 asking if Jackson ‘might be able to spare a few minutes to meet with Siemens’ global sustainability officer (who is my boss) Barbara Kux.'”
“She’d like to meet you and to express her support for your good work on climate,” Taylor wrote.
Jackson, according to records, sent a second email in which she wrote: “P.S. Can you use my home email rather than this one when you need to contact me directly? Tx, Lisa.”
CEI discovered that “Siemens spent more than $5 million lobbying the federal government, including the EPA, in 2009.”
Jackson also sent emails to a Sierra Club executive director from her personal Verizon account.
An EPA spokesperson told the publication that the agency “is committed to adhering to the appropriate regulations and laws for both federal records management and email use” and “continues to work with the Inspector General in its review of EPA’s email practices and policies, and is prepared to give full consideration to any recommendations for improvements identified in that review.”
Other Obama administration officials–like Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius–were found to have personal accounts they may have used to discuss official business; they have defended the practice, alleging those email accounts were necessary “given the large amount of email that flood officials’ public inboxes.”