EPA chief Jackson resigns amid transparency investigations into secret emails

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

A Washington attorney says that Environmental Protection Agency Chief Administrator Lisa Jackson’s resignation and investigations into the EPA’s use of secret email accounts are not coincidental.

“Life’s full of coincidences, but this is too many,” Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Chris Horner told FoxNews.com. “She had no choice.”

The Justice Department also plans to release emails Jan. 14 in which EPA Chief Jackson’s alias account discusses coal regulation. According to Horner, this clearly is a factor behind Jackson’s decision to leave the agency.

“Two full committees and one investigative subcommittee of the House of Representatives have asked several federal agencies, including EPA and the White House,” Horner said in a press release, adding that the Department of Justice acknowledged “12,000 emails from Lisa Jackson’s ‘secondary’ email account that discuss the Obama administration’s war on coal, in response to litigation we have filed over this practice.”

Jackson announced she would be leaving after the president gives the State of the Union address, but made no mention of the investigations .

“So, I will leave the EPA confident the ship is sailing in the right direction, and ready in my own life for new challenges, time with my family and new opportunities to make a difference,” she said in a statement.

Last month, Horner told The Daily Caller News Foundation that the name “Richard Windsor” was the name of one of Jackson’s alias email accounts.

“That is the name — sorry, one of the alias names — used by Obama’s radical EPA chief to keep her email from those who ask for it,” said Horner, who discovered the use of alias email accounts while writing his book “The Liberal War on on Transparency.”

The practice of using alias emails was put into place by Carol Browner, former director of the Obama White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy and Bill Clinton’s EPA administrator, said Horner.

Subsequently, congressional committees have sent letters to the EPA demanding information related to the use of alias email accounts. The House Science Committee has sent two letters since November, pressing the EPA for records regarding the alias email account.

“The use of these [hidden] accounts could seriously impair records collection, preservation, and access, therefore compromising transparency and oversight,” said the letter, signed by House Science Committee chairman Ralph Hall.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter in December, also pressing Jackson for records on alias email accounts.

“We seek to understand whether conducting business with an alias has in any way affected the transparency of the agency’s activities or the quality or completeness of information provided to the Committee pursuant to Rules X and XI of the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives,” wrote Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans Fred Upton of Michigan and Cliff Stearns of Florida in a letter to Jackson that was sent last Thursday.

“For more than a decade, EPA Administrators have been assigned two official, government-issued email accounts: a public account and an internal account,” said the EPA in a statement, responding to the House Science Committee’s letter. “The internal account is an everyday, working email account of the Administrator to communicate with staff and other government officials.”

In response to a request by the House Science Committee, the EPA inspector general has also launched an audit of the agency’s electronic records management practice to determine if it follows the law when conducting official business using private and alias email accounts.

“Our objective is to determine whether EPA follows applicable laws and regulations when using private and alias email accounts to conduct official business,” reads a memorandum from EPA Assistant Inspector General for Audit Melissa Heist.

The Daily Caller News Foundation was also provided screenshots by sources with direct knowledge of the EPA, showing that the Richard Windsor account was installed onto three computers under Jackson’s name.

“This is a complete link between the Windsor email address and Jackson,” a source told TheDC News Foundation.

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