Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton says the reported use of private email by Environmental Protection Agency officials shows the agency has contempt for public records laws.
The Daily Caller reported last week that Michael Bradley, an energy consultant, sent an email about a regulation to EPA Senior Counsel Joe Goffman's private email address and asked him to forward it to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy's private email address, stating a preference to stay off official channels.
Goffman then forwarded that email to Michael Goo, a policy aide at the EPA, who forwarded the email to his public address, according to the report. Energy & Environment Legal Institute uncovered the email and said it shows top EPA official have a proclivity to use private email to stay off official channels while doing agency battles.
Cotton, a junior Republican senator, said it's another example of the Obama administration avoiding transparency.
"The EPA seems to know no bounds when it comes to circumventing the law to impose their will on Arkansas and America. We have known that former Administrator Lisa Jackson went so far as to create aliases for doing official business over private emails in order to hide her identity," Cotton said.
"And we now know that other EPA officials used private email addresses when colluding with liberal environmental groups and lobbyists in order to avoid transparency."
Cotton echoed Republican complaints that the EPA seems to consider itself above the law and pointed to recent scandals as proof that the environmental agency isn't accountable.
"What does the EPA have to say for themselves? Nothing. As we've seen time and time again, President Obama's EPA is radio silent on their illicit behavior," Cotton said. "Whether it's Flint Michigan or the Animas River disaster, the EPA thinks the rules just don't apply to them. Such behavior is not only unacceptable — it's unethical and the EPA must be held accountable."
EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison hit back at Cotton's suggestion that EPA officials regularly use private email, pointing to an inspector general's report.
"EPA has always discouraged the use of private emails," Harrison said. "The EPA Inspector General researched this and confirmed they found no evidence to support that the EPA 'used, promoted or encouraged' the use of private email accounts to circumvent federal records management requirements. "