Politics

Obama’s Science Officer Defies Court, Keeps Private Emails Secret

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Ethan Barton Managing Editor
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John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and President Barack Obama’s chief science adviser, is refusing to allow emails from one of his private accounts to be made public, even though a federal court has ordered him to do so.

A federal appeals court ruled in July 2016 that Holdren must release to a lower magistrate all work-related emails on the account. The emails are being sought by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a free-market nonprofit foundation.

White House officials told the court there are no undisclosed work-related emails, but CEI disputes that contention. (RELATED: DOE Does Little To Stop Senior Officials From Using Private Emails)

“CEI contends that OSTP is attempting to re-litigate the issue on which it already lost in the circuit,” CEI said in a statement Wednesday. “Moreover, OSTP’s has provided no reason to believe that Holdren has in fact forwarded all of his relevant private emails.” (RELATED: EPA Execs Rely On Private Emails To Talk With Lobbyists)

The case went to court after the White House refused to comply with CEI’s Freedom of Information Act request seeking emails on Holdren’s private account. That account is held by Holdren’s previous employer, the Woods Hole Research Center, an environmental think tank.

The “use of non-official accounts for agency business frustrates federal open-government laws, undermines government accountability, and evades congressional oversight efforts,” CEI said. “Given the growing scandals over other top officials’ private emails, a reversal of the lower court’s ruling is essential to putting teeth into FOIA.”

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