- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 26, 2015

Experts on federal record-keeping laws on Thursday agreed with a House committee subpoena of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s cellphone records to help determine whether she was involved in a cover-up.

Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, issued the subpoena after Ms. McCarthy claimed that of nearly 6,000 text messages, just one was agency business and that she deleted the rest.

She did it just days after the committee had alerted the EPA that it may be breaking the record-keeping rules for text messages.

Paul M. Wester Jr., chief records officer at the National Archives, said he would want to see Ms. McCarthy’s phone records, too, to determine if she was telling the truth.

“I would have to see the content … and what the whole volume of text messages was before I could make that determination,” Mr. Wester said at a committee hearing on the issue.

Mr. Smith pressed EPA Assistant Inspector General Kevin Christensen on whether Ms. McCarthy’s claim was “plausible.”

“Just using the common-sense standard, without saying definitively one way or the other, is it credible that 6,000 text messages would be sent that would not be related to work when the messages were all sent on official devices,” Mr. Smith asked.

Mr. Christensen responded: “I would question it and I would want to see the context before I reached a conclusion.”

Earlier, Mr. Christensen had vouched for the agency not having a widespread pattern of using text messages or private emails to circumvent public records laws.

But he said he took the same position as Mr. Wester about needing to see Ms. McCarthy’s records.

A third witness, David Schnare, a former EPA attorney and a fierce critic of the agency, also backed the subpoena.

“I think that level of texting is going to inevitably have something in it,” he told the committee.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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