A conservative watchdog group sued the Environmental Protection Agency Monday seeking EPA nominee Gina McCarthy's official phone bills and proof that she completed required electronic records training.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute think tank said the lawsuit and unanswered transparency questions about the EPA's record-keeping practices should stall McCarthy's nomination. Her nomination could be voted on by the Senate as early as Tuesday.
CEI's lawsuit seeks phone bills for McCarthy's EPA-issued cell phone to establish whether she used text messages instead of email for work on 18 specific days on which she testified before Congress.
"Resolving the questions in today's suit, and about her use of a personal account, should be necessary conditions to moving forward on her nomination," said CEI Senior Fellow Chris Horner.
CEI sued for McCarthy's text messages in April after being "credibly informed" that agency officials had warned McCarthy that texts she was sending about members of Congress during hearings where she was a witness posed a risk to herself and the agency.
The EPA said it has no such text messages, according to CEI. The think tank said McCarthy's phone bills should establish whether she used cellular texts for work.
"If these bills show that any text messages were in fact sent or received on the EPA device on any of the 18 dates in question, either EPA is not destroying this correspondence in violation of the law, or simply is not turning it over in response to legitimate requests," said Horner.
In a related lawsuit currently on administrative appeal, CEI has also requested McCarthy's work-related texts from her personal phone, which according to EPA rules are also public record.
Monday's lawsuit also seeks proof that McCarthy received the required training on the maintenance of electronic records like emails, text messages and instant message chats.
Horner first exposed former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson's "Richard Windsor" alias email account last year, and a request by CEI in June showed Jackson received certificates for the required records training under her email alias.
The quote in the seventh paragraph above was inaccurate in the original CEI statement. A correction has been issued and the paragraph should read as follows:
"If these bills show that any text messages were in fact sent or received on the EPA device on any of the 18 dates in question, either EPA is not destroying those correspondence in violation of the law, or simply is not turning them over in response to legitimate requests," said Horner.