Sen. David Vitter, R-LA, charged today that Environmental Protection Agency officials "lied" about the extent of former Region 8 Administrator James Martin's use of private email accounts to conduct official business.

"EPA should start owning up to the facts piling up before them. Their blatant disregard for proper procedure and transparency is now being regularly exposed, and EPA's leadership must be held accountable," Vitter said.

An EPA spokesman has been asked for a response.

Vitter's charge comes on the eve of Sunshine Week, which begins Sunday, March 10, 2013. Sunshine Week is intended to commemorate passage of the federal Freedom of Information Act in 1966, which guarantees the public the right to obtain copies of all government documents not otherwise exempted from disclosure.

Sunshine Week coincides with the birthday of James Madison, who wrote the First Amendment and its guarantee of freedom of the independent press.

Martin resigned shortly after Vitter, the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA, announced on Jan. 29, 2013, a joint investigation of the EPA official's email practices.

At the time, an unidentified EPA spokesman said Martin used his private email account to conduct official business only once, saying "that Mr. Martin responded to one email sent to his personal email account to confirm a meeting that appears on his official government calendar does not alter that fact."

But today Vitter said Martin used a private email account to conduct official business on multiple occasions, communicating with officials within and without the agency on a wide variety of issues. Go here for examples of Martin's private email account being used to conduct government business.

Federal laws and regulations require that government email accounts be used to conduct official business and that whenever a federal employee must for whatever reason use a private email account, it must be made available to agency Freedom of Information Act administrators.

More information from Vitter is available here.