The Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general announced Monday his office will review whether officials relied on fake email accounts to conceal their identities and divert attention away from the Obama administration.
In an internal memo, which was made public Monday, the Office of the Inspector General said it was looking into complaints that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson secretly used an alias email account with the name "Richard Windsor" to send and receive messages that would have reflected poorly on the agency.
The U.S. Justice Department reported about 12,000 emails had been sent from Ms. Jackson's alias account.
"This memorandum is to notify you that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Inspector General, plans to begin an audit of certain EPA electronic records management practices," according to the memo, which was dated Dec. 13. "This assignment is in response to a congressional request."
House Republicans, including those on the Science, Space, and Technology committee, Energy and Commerce committee, and Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, sent letters to the EPA and various inspectors general in November demanding answers, after reports of Ms. Jackson fake email account first surfaced.
In one letter, the committees suggest this deceptive practice could enable Ms. Jackson and other EPA officials to subvert congressional and FOIA requests. If the email accounts were unknown, it would have helped the agency hide controversial messages by sending them from those 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," the Energy and Commerce committee wrote.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute called it an "abusive" practice that the EPA used to "hide what the Obama administration and its allies are up to."
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