EPA's Jackson used fake, home emails to work with Siemens executive

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Mark Tapscott,Watchdog,Environment,Climate Change,Corruption,Lobbying

An top executive for a Fortune 500 corporation with millions of dollars in contracts with the Environmental Protection Agency discussed official business with then-Administrator Lisa Jackson at the latter's "Richard Windsor" and home email addresses.

Siemens Corp. Vice President for Sustainability-Americas Alison Taylor emailed Jackson at the Windsor address Dec. 8, 2009, to request that the EPA head meet with a higher-up from the company.

"She'd like to meet you and to express her support for your good work on climate. I'll be with her on the 14th, and in Copenhagen also (I'm in Copenhagen from the 15th-19th)," Taylor told Jackson in the email. "I know this is a very busy time for you, and I have explained this to her. She's a big fan."

Taylor closed with a chummy "I hope you're well and I look forward to running into you somewhere."

Jackson responded by asking Taylor, "can you use my home email when you need to contact me directly? Tx. Lisa."

Taylor has not responded to a Washington Examiner request for comment on her communications with the former EPA head, who resigned in December when it was learned she had repeatedly used the government email address for the fictitious Richard Windsor to conduct official business.

Federal law requires government employees to use only government email addresses when conducting official business. If they do use a private email address for official business, they are required to tell their agency's freedom of information officers to insure availability of the communications to FOIA requesters.

Jackson's use of the fictitious Windsor name was made public last year by Christopher C. Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in a book titled "The Liberal War on Transparency: Confessions of a Freedom of Information 'Criminal.'"

Horner and CEI, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., sued EPA for copies of Jackson's email, but the agency resisted until ordered by a federal judge to produce the requested documents.

The agency did so in a series of releases in which much of the information contained in the emails was blacked out. The Taylor exchange with Jackson was among the emails not blacked out.

A search of federal contract databases found at least 24 active contracts issued by EPA to Siemens entities. Many of the contracts are for equipment and services purchases.

Jackson's use of the Richard Windsor and other emails is under investigation by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, headed by Rep. Darrell Issa.

Issa, a California Republican, said late Wednesday that his committee "has continued to uncover troubling evidence that administration officials have engaged in an intentional and systemic practice of violating federal transparency laws to communicate with lobbyists and other private interests using non-official or alias email accounts."

Noting President Obama's promise that his would be "the most transparent administration in history," Issa said misuse of government email "creates an undeniable impression that officials are engaging in inappropriate behavior."

Horner told the Washington Examiner that he has "demonstrated widespread use by Obama officials of non-official email accounts to conduct official business, by people trained to know that this is improper. They also know that conducting public business on private resources doesn't make it any less public; that is, breaking the rules doesn't somehow exempt the correspondence from federal record-keeping and disclosure laws. It only makes it unlikely that they will ever be captured under those laws."

Previously reported on this issue by the Examiner:

EPA refuses to talk about CEI suit.

'Richard Windsor' departure from EPA is a victory for transparency in government.

Twenty Richard Windsor questions for the Obama administration.

Former EPA boss posed as her own assistant.

EPA grants ethics, cyber-security certificates to 'Richard Windsor'

 

Mark Tapscott is executive editor of the Washington Examiner.

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