EPA, thy Scandal Cup Runneth Over


A few weeks ago, Tea Party Patriots reported on a modest scandal in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – the agency appears to be waiving fees for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for liberal groups, while charging conservative groups full price.

Over the last few weeks, other small scandals have popped up, but have been ignored because of the far more prominent IRS, NSA, Associated Press, Benghazi attack response, and other scandals rocking the Obama Administration. Gabriel Malor has the list:

(1) EPA awarded former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s alias, Richard Windsor, an ethics award.
Yes, a fake person — an alias created to avoid disclosure obligations and keep Lisa Jackson from having to read all the email in her actual email account — won an ethics award. http://freebeacon.com/richard-windsor-model-employee/

There’s two immediate take-aways to this scandal. First, it’s right at the top….

Second, it demonstrates the empty “meritocracies” of the bureaucracy. Windsor’s name was on a list for completing a mandatory annual requirement, so of course “he” got an award.

(2) EPA targeted conservative groups for disfavored treatment.
This scandal is a direct parallel to the IRS targeting. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/06/04/epa-accused-singling-out-conservative-groups-amid-irs-scandal/?intcmp=HPBucket The EPA gets FOIA requests from conservative and from liberal groups. Generally, the requesting person or entity has to pay for the cost of searching, compiling, and printing the records either on paper or CD. And these fees can range up into the hundreds of thousands of dollars per FOIA. But there are waivers for these fees. You can guess who gets the waivers and who doesn’t.

The response of the EPA to this is laugh-out-loud funny. First came the blanket denial. Acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe told a House committee, “our policy is to treat everybody the same.” And then he added — illogically, astonishingly — that the agency was “considering” launching an investigation. Considering it!


(3) EPA contractors turned part of an EPA warehouse into their own personal rec rooms and gym.
Here’s an almost banal example of bureaucratic waste. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/workers-turned-epa-warehouse-in-landover-into-personal-rec-rooms-audit-finds/2013/06/05/ed5514fc-ce17-11e2-8845-d970ccb04497_story.html Contractors let loose to do their thing with only belated oversight. Yes, they were paid to happily build their clubhouse and gym.

EPA just found out last month and, to its credit, severed ties with the contracting company. But the agency was left with a bunch of unanswered questions, foremost among them: how did this happen? Boy, wouldn’t we all like to know.

(4) EPA leaked personal info of farm and cattle facilities to environmental activists.
This scandal is the EPA version http://freebeacon.com/senators-question-epa-leak-of-private-farmer-info/ of the IRS’s leak of National Organization for Marriage’s records. A group of people (80,000 people) that some agency employees have reason not to like suddenly have their personal information show up in the hands of their political adversaries.

The EPA has asked environmental activist groups Earth Justice, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Pew Charitable Trust, to give the information back, but . . . c’mon. Come. On. I suppose at this point we should be grateful (?) the EPA’s doing more than merely considering asking for the information back. No word on if anyone was disciplined for sending the personal information (it was inadvertently included in FOIA requests), but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Come to think of it, I wonder if the groups that got the info also had their FOIA fees waived…

The EPA has long been the red-headed stepchild for many organizations and individuals who are fiscally conservative and support constitutionally-limited government, as well as free markets. These four scandals should have huge implications on Capitol Hill:

First, and most simply, money is being wasted. The EPA is spending all of this effort on these scandals, and that wastes taxpayer money.

Second, the EPA is not treating all citizens equally. It is waiving fees for some, leaking information to others, etc. How can the American people trust our government under these conditions?

Third, incompetence must abound inside the EPA. An award for ethics to a fake person? Failing to notice when a contractor is using taxpayer dollars to create a gym for employees? Sure, we can trust the feds with our cell phone information…

It’s long past time that Congress limited or eliminated the power of the EPA. As the other, more prominent scandals continue to be investigated, let’s not forget about these ones.