Politics

Vitter: Obama failing to deliver on promises of transparency

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Michael Bastasch Contributor
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The reported use of secret email accounts by Obama administration officials violates the president’s promise of transparency, says Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter.

“While the president promised transparency, he and the people he chose to lead various sections of his administration are very clearly failing to deliver,” Vitter said.

“The release of the infamous ‘Richard Windsor’ email alias documents has led to the discovery of even more, widespread inappropriate record-keeping practices within the EPA and multiple other Agencies,” he added. “At the end of the day this is about the president’s leadership, and thus failure to deliver on yet another promise.”

The Associated Press reported that some of President Obama’s Cabinet officials been using secret email accounts, including Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, for internal communications.

The AP learned this through government records requests that were sent upon learning that the former Environmental Protection Agency head had been using an alias email account for internal communications.

Vitter and California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa have been investigating records practices within the EPA after it was revealed that top agency officials were using non-official email accounts to conduct official business, potentially skirting public disclosure laws.

“EPA contends that its ‘policy’ is readily available and well understood by staff; however, we have learned that regional employees are not properly trained or even informed of EPA’s records keeping policies,” wrote Vitter and Issa. “In fact, the Committees discovered that [Region 8 Administrator James] Martin regularly used his personal e-mail account to correspond with individuals and groups outside of EPA regarding Agency business and was not aware of EPA’s policy against it.”

Martin subsequently resigned “in part because of the open investigation about his use of a non-official email account to conduct official business,” according to Vitter.

The email scandal began with former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson using an  account under the name Richard Windsor to conduct official business.

“The internal account is an everyday, working email account of the administrator to communicate with staff and other government officials,” the agency contended, adding that the large volume of emails sent to the administrator made the account “necessary for effective management and communication between the administrator and agency colleagues.”

EPA email and records rules instruct employees to “not use any outside e-mail account to conduct official Agency business.”

Subsequent emails released by the EPA showed that acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe used a private email account to conduct official business.

Vitter also released more emails from Jackson’s Richard Windsors showing correspondence with environmental groups.

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