Yet another federal agency under the Obama Administration has lost federal records – this time, the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a Freedom of Information Act suit last year to obtain access to text messages sent to/from former EPA administrator Gina McCarty. CEI said McCarthy and other officials used text messages in an attempt to skirt federal law.
The CEI is focused on policy initiatives to be considered or approved by the EPA, and they regularly seek public record related to development of environmental policy. In this case, the CEI is challenging the EPA's "alleged practice of routinely destroying agency text messages as violative of the Federal Records Act." This particular dispute stems from two FOIA requests for text messages sent by both Gina McCarthy and former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. CEI believes that a senior EPA official had told McCarthy to refrain from sending text messages regarding official EPA business on days when she was scheduled to testify before Congress.
In court filings filed on Tuesday, however, the EPA said it may have “lost” text messages from Gina McCarthy. Lawyers with the Department of Justice said the EPA will soon file a notice that the agency has misplaced records they were legally obligated to retain. Specifically, the attorneys said
Defendant has decided to formally notify the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) about the potential loss of federal records relating to text messages.
DOJ is conveniently arguing that the loss of information - information the EPA was legally required to keep track of – will make the CEI request moot, since the records do not exist. Once the request becomes moot, DOJ attorneys will ask the court for a hearing to dismiss the case.
This is another instance of illegal conduct and/or gross disorganization to effectively cover up illegal activity. Much like the IRS Lois Lerner, the EPA seems to be trying to hide law breaking behind supposed incompetent record keeping. The disregard for the law we continue to find this under Administration is troubling and deserves thorough investigation.