President Barack Obama's –– who promised to have, and claims to be, the most transparent administration in history –– “political appointees are using secret government email accounts to conduct official business,” The Associated Press found. This ranges across several government agencies, including the Health and Human Services Department (HHS), the Labor Department (DOL) as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Just after the release of this information, Kathleen Sebelius came under fire about her emails, of which the AP published as KGS2@hhs.gov with her public email address of Kathleen.Sebelius@hhs.gov. When confronted by Fox News about the report, Sebelius denied any secrecy, “There is no secret email account, there’s a public email and a private email, and they’re all FOIABle, they’re all available.”
As the denials pile up, the White House shifts the blame, citing it as a practice used by previous administrations. However, the scale and scope across the government and this administration remains a mystery, because transparency is nil: “Most federal agencies have failed to turn over lists of political appointees' email addresses, which the AP sought under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) more than three months ago,” noted Fox News. According to the AP report last week, they are waiting for at least ten agencies to respond, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, Treasury, Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Homeland Security, Commerce and Agriculture, of which "all have said they are working on a response to the AP.”
This is just the latest in a slew of government officials that we can confirm who have been using suspect email practices, which adds to the lack of transparency within the Obama White House. As you may recall Lisa Jackson, the former head of the EPA –– chosen by Obama in 2009 –– used an “alter ego” as her email account to conduct government business.
In the fall of 2012 the name “Richard Windsor” triggered an environmental alarm –– what POLITICO called “an inadvertent ruckus for an agency already under fire from conservatives.” It “spawned a host of accusatory news reports and questions from lawmakers, all of them implying that Jackson was trying to dodge congressional oversight and public records laws by using a private email account under a fake name.”
A fake person, whom by the way, the White House knew about since at least February 2010, and now we learn "he" won several EPA awards. The National Review divulged, "Documents released by the agency in response to a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that, for three years, the EPA certified Windsor as a "scholar of ethical behavior." The agency also documented the nonexistent Windsor’s completion of training courses in the management of e-mail records, cyber-security awareness, and what appears to be a counter-terror initiative that urges federal employees to report suspicious activity."
Needless to say, refutation is the usual response by the Obama administration in any wrongdoing (whether alleged or factual), and in some cases selective amnesia is their method of deflection. In this case, the EPA claimed that Jackson’s public account, firstname.lastname@example.org, was inundated with “1.5 million emails in fiscal year 2012.” Adding to their justification, “EPA administrators have been assigned two official, government-issued email accounts: a public account and an internal account,” EPA said in a statement to POLITICO back in November 2012. “The email address for the public account is posted on EPA's website and is used by hundreds of thousands of Americans to send messages to the administrator. The internal account is an everyday, working email account of the administrator to communicate with staff and other government officials.”
In the midst of this heated environment, Ms. Jackson resigned in December 2012 (and now works for Apple), and by January it became clear that the EPA email scandal was worse than most had originally thought. Brietbart.com put it best, "We’re not talking about some alias to be used for personal correspondence but a totally false identity in whose name official business was allegedly conducted created specifically to avoid federal record-keeping and disclosure requirements. And none of this would ever have been uncovered were it not for the courage of a still anonymous whistleblower and the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s (CEI) Christopher Horner, an attorney with the legal smarts and experience needed to unravel it all."
As early as April 2012, the EPA Intel came to light by Mr. Horner, who is also the author of The Liberal War on Transparency, "research for which uncovered a climate of deceit and obstruction at EPA." Eventually it sparked congressional inquiries, an inspector general investigation as well as a federal court order for the EPA to turn over “the first installment of some 12,000 secret, previously undisclosed emails.”
In January 2013, the EPA provided emails all right, but none that included Jackson’s alias. The next two batches released in February and March of this year were no better, as one set was “heavily redacted” and the other turned out to be a partial document dump. NOTE: a very incriminating timeline regarding EPA's "Richard Windsor" Email Scandal can be found at CEI, yet here we are over a year later, and we're no more closer to the truth.
Jackson, a "friend" of former Green Jobs Czar Van Jones (both far-left radical environmentalists), promised “environmental justice” and referred to this government agency as “Obama’s EPA” –– an agency whereas the president gave the largest budget in EPA history at the tune of $10.5 billion taxpayer-dollars, as well as a tremendous amount of "ECO power," of which the EPA has abused.
Nevertheless, what’s key here is that Jackson's fictitious email wasn’t used for recipe swapping or recycling tips. From what I gather, "Richard Windsor was used to conduct official business with environmental pressure groups, other special interests, and top staffers." The Daily Caller News Foundation also reported, "the Windsor account had also been used to correspond with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack — who was using a secret account of his own — and outside environmental groups." Additionally, there was another EPA official who used a private email account to correspond with environmental groups in an attempt to "shield communications with environmental activists from public disclosure," documented The Daily Caller in January.
Evidence also emerged and was reported by Human Events in December 2012 which stated, “the existence of 12,000 emails (those court order ones) had either addressed to or authored by “'Richard Windsor'” included one of four key words submitted by Horner for a search –– coal, climate, endanger and MACT, a mercury rule expected to have a devastating impact on the coal industry and coal-fired electricity plants and raise rates for consumers."
Jackson was also in charge of other important issues like how to control so-called greenhouses gases, setting fuel standards for automobiles and approving an ethanol-based fuel. We also know that Jackson and the power allotted the EPA, (oops Obama's EPA), who is strongly aligned with President Obama's expensive and ongoing left-wing "climate change" agenda, was used to circumvent Congressional approval. For example, in 2009, the Obama administration was “unable to sell cap-and-trade as a job creator,” knowing that Americans see it as a job killer and a costly energy tax. So in December 2009, the Obama administration decided to go through the EPA to move their climate agenda via the Clean Air Act, ruling that “greenhouse gases threaten public health and the environment” and six key greenhouse gases were listed, including carbon dioxide (C02), opening the “regulation door” to carbon emissions from automobiles, power plants, and other sources.
EPA: Out with the “Richard Windsor” and in with "Obama's Green Quarterback," Holding the "Lack of Transparency" Football
“Richard Windsor” may be off the team –– awards and all –– but as of late, Chris Horner has gone after EPA senior official, Gina McCarthy, who runs the EPA’s clean air division and in March was nominated by the president to replace outgoing chief Lisa Jackson.
The charge: CEI filed a lawsuit that “alleges EPA has not provided the records or a substantive response to a late April Freedom of Information Act request, which covers dates McCarthy testified between 2009 and 2012.”
The Hill reported on this story at the end of May, of which the CEI alleged, “McCarthy regularly used text messaging as an alternative to email for work-related communications.” Not to mention McCarthy was apparently warned by a senior EPA official to “cease using that function on her PDA, due to concerns about the propriety of her texting about Members of Congress specifically on days when she testified before either the House or Senate.”
However, McCarthy, in April 2013 told Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee who was vetting her nomination, “I do not conduct business through personal email.” McCarthy is also on the record as stating that she doesn’t conduct business over instant messaging, either: “One good thing about being 58 is I don’t know how to use them,” McCarthy said. “I have never used an IM. I don’t know how.”
Widely known as Obama’s “green quarterback,” McCarthy hit some roadblocks on her way to head the EPA, including a boycott by senate Republican members of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, because she had refused to answer their questions about transparency in the agency. Needless to say, a week later (May 16) McCarthy was approved by the Senate committee, and as reported by the Washington Post, this was "after what Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) described as significant steps forward on transparency issues important to the GOP."
Is there confusion on texting vs. instant messages? Or maybe McCarthy has since learned how to IM. I don't know, but we'll keep tabs on this part of the EPA scandal, because as of this month, McCarthy's path forward to heading the EPA remains murky, as does the transparency within this agency and many others.
July 2012 House Oversight Hearing Revealed Shady Email Practices by Former DOE Loan Advisor Jonathan Silver
I'd love to compare notes with Chris Horner on the Green Corruption scandal, because according to Human Events, Horner also acknowledged that fourteen separate private email accounts helped solidify the Solyndra green energy deal that costs taxpayers over $500 million. The Solyndra Saga was just the beginning of President Obama's clean-energy failures (billions wasted) and crony capitalism run amok, of which I've been tracking for some time. I recently tallied 25 taxpayer-backed green energy firms that have gone bankrupt, and with an equal amount troubled.
Last summer I was one of the few that took issue with the fact that the former Department of Energy (DOE) Loan Advisor, Jonathan Silver, during his time at the DOE, participated in extremely shady email practices that included helping his “friends” get DOE loans, of which I discovered when viewing the July 18th Oversight hearing as well as chronicling the green corruption suspects since 2010.
A scandal that also comprises of internal DOE email correspondences (some from whistleblowers) going as far back as the passing of President Obama's 2009 trillion-dollar stimulus package, of which last fall we busted open the Energy Department's "Den of Deception," proving coercion, corruption, cronyism, and cover ups.
What astonished me was that Silver used his personal email account to “handle” DOE business, where he would forward emails from his DOE account to his personal email, and then respond from his personal email account. Now, Mr. Silver reasoned that it was out of “convenience,” however; this practice clearly violates the Federal Records Act of 1950 (at least the spirit of the law). Worse, these particular Obama appointees don't have an issue with lying to Congress while under oath, and have gone unpunished –– as is the case of Mr. Silver.
When questioned by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) at the July 18th hearing on how pervasive this practice was; Silver responded with, “Not terribly,” then followed, “I received tens of thousands of emails while I was in the program.” Congressman Gowdy then inquired about the percentage. Silver stated, “I don’t know the answer to that…”
During his testimony, Silver asserted that he had turned over all of his DOE correspondences (government documents), but as usual, it was only after the House Oversight Committee demanded them. During this hearing we also discover that the Obama administration had attempted to block their "legitimate discovery" in this particular case (as they stonewalled on most of the DOE inquiries led by the House Oversight). In fact the DOE specifically tried to prevent them from getting these documents, of which Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa's (R-CA) explained, "asking Mr. Silver’s attorney –– ordering him effectively –– to deliver the documents to them so they could limit and redact them, so they could decide what Congress was entitled to."
Obviously, the DOE was obstructing transparency, but still, this left me with many critical questions. Why did Silver handle DOE business in this fashion –– convenience or concealment? Is g-mail better than DOE e-mail? Did he forget his DOE password? I don’t know.
But what we do know is that this flies in the face of an administration that promised and promotes “unprecedented levels of transparency” and openness...
A day after the July 18th hearing, Chairman Issa appeared on Fox News, and summed up a few key points that he had sternly addressed during the hearing. When asked about Abound (another taxpayer-funded failure accompanied by its share of cronyism and corruption), here is what Issa had to say, “Thanks for covering yet another failed solar project –– one that again went outside the bounds and the rules for making the loan, and the American people are paying for it.”
Issa went on, “I think the most important thing that we saw was the discovery of Jonathan Silver and his various other Department of Energy employees deliberately producing an outside web of private emails in which they exchanged documents, strategized on how to get these loans approved, and so on…”
What do you think they are doing? Issa was asked
Issa’s answer, “I say it was pretty transparent, they’re being opaque…by circumventing these systems, they’re taking things out of what is statutorily required to be there…”
Yep, the Obama administration is circumventing not only our Constitution, but evading government systems that were put into place to protect the American people against tyranny and enforce transparency while ensuring we have the proper mechanisms to keep our government accountable, which encompasses our elected officials, political appointees and their staff.
It's alarming the number of scandals plaguing the Obama White House, from Fast and Furious to Green Corruption (the DOE, DOI and EPA) to top officials engaging in shady email practices. Eventually we were faced with the Benghazi cover-up, the IRS political profiling, and the DOJ's chilling media meddling.
The most current and unprecedented controversy impacts every American, no matter what side of the political isle you're on, and our right to privacy. I'm referring the secret court order that allows the NSA to collect the metadata of Americans' phone calls for months at a time as well as operation PRISM –– justified by, yet goes beyond national security –– which began under President Bush in the wake of 9/11 and continued with the Obama administration.
However, Glenn Greenwald, a reporter for the British newspaper The Guardian and the one who broke "the biggest intelligence leak in the NSA's history," firmly warned that the Obama administration "has taken a warped and distorted view of the PATRIOT Act [now on steroids]," which I find horrifying, only to surmise that instead of a "war on terror," it has morphed into a "war on freedom."
While some of these scandals are deadly and disgraceful, others shed light on the political favoritism that runs across many government agencies, and now we search and find that many of these same agencies and others conduct government business in secret.
Worse, if it wasn't for watchdog groups like Chris Horner's, whistleblowers, a handful of media doing their job, Congressional oversight, and citizens speaking out, we wouldn't know about this raging "secret" email scandal running wild within the Obama administration. In fact we'd be in the dark about most of what our government is up to, which is a sad indictment of where we are as Country: a government that is too big, too expensive, and too intrusive, and as of late, has become too corrupt, abusive and secretive.
Even those on the Left had to cede, including President Obama's former campaign advisor, David Axelrod, whereas in an attempt to shield Obama from the IRS scandal had this to say, "How could Obama know what his underlings were doing when the government’s so big?"
While this statement makes the case for smaller government even bigger, more insightful words came out of Becky Gerritson's testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee, whose Tea Party group was one of those targeted by the IRS abuse, "...And I’m telling my government that you’ve forgotten your place...”
In fact our government has it all backwards: instead of punishing government officials and employees for their proven misdeeds, abuses, and crimes, they crucify brave whistleblowers. No matter what side is in power, "we the people" should raise up along side the Becky's of our nation, and remind our government that America was founded and formed "with a government of the people, by the people, for the people."
We must stand firm, and demand punishment for those that abuse their power, and ensure that unwarranted and illegal secrecy STOPS, because there is a reason people do things in secret –– they usually have something to hide, and you never know, tyranny may be "lurking just around the corner"...