Former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson used her private email to conduct official business, including with a lobbyist, in a possible violation of federal record laws.
The emails were part of the latest batch of documents released through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). The conservative nonprofit has been digging through Jackson’s correspondence for months after it discovered she used a secret EPA email address under the pseudonym “Richard Windsor.”
Alison Taylor, a vice president for the multinational company Siemens, emailed Jackson’s “Richard Windsor” account in December 2009 asking if Jackson “might be able to spare a few minutes to meet with Siemens’ global sustainability officer (who is my boss) Barbara Kux.”
“She’d like to meet you and to express her support for your good work on climate,” Taylor wrote.
Jackson agreed. Shortly after, she sent a second email: “P.S. Can you use my home email rather than this one when you need to contact me directly? Tx, Lisa.”
At the time, Taylor was a lobbyist for Siemens. Siemens spent more than $5 million lobbying the federal government, including the EPA, in 2009, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
In another email chain between her and Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune, Jackson’s personal Verizon email address is redacted under a privacy exemption, only to be left unredacted a few lines later.
If federal employees use their private email for business, they must send the email to their official government account for record keeping purposes.
Jackson’s use of the secret “Richard Windsor” account riled transparency advocates and Republican investigators in Congress, who worried such practices skirted FOIA regulations.
But the new evidence suggests that Jackson used a third, private email address.
“There’s no ambiguity here,” said CEI senior fellow Chris Horner, who first discovered Jackson’s secret email account. “This reflects a clear intention to violate law and policy.”
In an interview with Environment & Energy Publishing, Anne Weismann, chief counsel for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said the email between Jackson and Taylor was “extremely troubling.”
“I agree that was a very interesting line in there because it’s clear that it was discussing agency-related business and this was someone that she knew in her capacity as administrator of U.S. EPA,” Weismann said. “As difficult as it may be to capture all the emails that are sent or received when she uses [the Richard Windsor account], it’s basically impossible to locate emails that are sent to or from a home email address.”
EPA political appointees were instructed by the Obama administration in 2009 to “not use any outside email account to conduct official agency business.”
The news is also drawing sharp rebukes from GOP lawmakers who investigated Jackson’s “Richard Windsor” account.