E&E Legal has achieved major successes with our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request program. Enacted in 1966, FOIA allows citizens to demand that the government make public certain information, particularly documents related to policymaking and government operations.
Documents produced under FOIA are extremely valuable in exposing to the public errors, omissions, unethical behavior, intimidation, and outright fraud on the part of government agencies and their employees. The infamous ‘ClimateGate’ e-mails from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University in 2009 are widely thought to have been a collection prepared in response to a FOIA request under the United Kingdom’s version of the law, but not released because of stonewalling on the part of climate alarmists.
Christopher Horner, Senior Legal Fellow, leads E&E Legal’s transparency practice. He’s nationally renowned in this area and is the one who discovered and exposed that EPA administrator Lisa Jackson was using of a false-identity email account, “Richard Windsor,” apparently to hide certain sensitive correspondence. He also found that in addition to e-mail accounts, senior EPA officials were using instant messaging (IM) technology, both through EPA’s server and outside providers, to conduct official EPA business.
Recent Transparency Efforts
In 2012, E&E Legal (under its old name) filed two FOIA requests with the EPA regarding EPA’s close working relationship with the American Lung Association (ALA) and the Sierra Club, two pressure groups with which EPA has close ties at great taxpayer expense. We found that ALA actively lobbies and seeks funds from government agencies and private companies in return for promoting their agenda; lobbies and litigates for greater authority for EPA; runs billboard campaigns against politicians who challenge EPA; and has received more than $20 million from EPA in the last 10 years for its programs. The Sierra Club employs a similar model and has close working relationships with senior Agency officials.
In April 2013, E&E Legal and the Competitive Enterprise Institute jointly filed a lawsuit in the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C. seeking certain EPA IMs to and from former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator nominee Gina McCarthy, and one other former senior official. The records in question addressed the administration’s “war on coal,” and its relationship with influential environmentalist groups, including one, the Sierra Club, involved in high-profile “sue-and-settle” deals with the Obama administration.
Stung by widespread publicity resulting from FOIA lawsuits, about a week following the filing of the suit, EPA acting administrator Bob Perciasepe reminded EPA employees that they are expected to comply with open-record laws in a letter. Most notably, this all-staff memo promised to do a better job better managing IMs, acknowledging that the EPA does in fact store IM records although the Agency apparently has never provided to Congress or FOIA requesters.
Click below for E&E Legal FOIA filings, and other information pertaining to our Transparency practice.