It’s going to be a long summer in Washington. With so many scandals, news organizations that have spent years sweeping startling allegations about the Obama administration under the rug now find themselves overwhelmed. Woe betide the average citizen who just wants to know what the heck his government is up to.
In the last several weeks of scandalpalooza, there’s been a lot of reporting on four distinct stories: the IRS’s admitted targeting and persecution of Tea Party and conservative groups; the revision of the Benghazi talking points; the Justice Department’s spying on Associated Press and Fox News reporters; and now, the debate over the extent and legality of an NSA program intercepting the communications of American citizens.
But that’s not all. There are a number of other scandals demanding both media coverage and accountability, but it seems unlikely they are going to get the attention they deserve. For the record, there are not one but four separate scandals at the Environmental Protection Agency. The first is that former EPA head Lisa Jackson was conducting official business from a private email account under the alias “Richard Windsor.” This would effectively hide her actions from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in clear violation of numerous laws.
Just as the scandal was starting to generate congressional attention, Jackson resigned abruptly and in late May was hired for a plum position, vice president of environmental initiatives, by Apple. The fact that Jackson hasn’t been held accountable is indignity enough, but recently we found out that the EPA went so far to establish Richard Windsor’s fake identity that they gave “him” various commendations, including a “scholar of ethical behavior” award.
But that wasn’t all the EPA did to dodge oversight, which brings us to scandal number two. Aside from hiding information from FOIA requests, the EPA was making it nearly impossible for groups critical of the agency to obtain any information. The agency denied 18 out of 20 FOIA requests from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market think tank, while approving the vast majority of requests from green groups. Not only that, CEI’s Chris Horner reports the EPA declined to waive fees for FOIA requests from CEI and the American Tradition Institute 93 percent of the time. Green groups got their FOIA fees waived 92 percent of the time. Considering that it’s not unheard of for FOIA fees to reach six figures, that’s no small matter.
Scandal number three: In a direct parallel to the IRS scandal, the EPA leaked sensitive information involving 80,000 livestock facilities in 30 states to environmental groups at odds with America’s meat producers. And scandal number four: At an EPA warehouse in Maryland, federal contractors created a “man cave” that they hid from cameras in the warehouse, stocking it with “surplus” EPA gym equipment and a stereo system.
It’s worth a mention that the Department of Energy inspector general recently filed a damning report, “Alleged Nepotism and Wasteful Spending in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.” (At one point in 2011, the Energy inspector general had opened over 100 criminal probes related to stimulus funding in the department.) And while we’re at it, we should also note that one of Obama’s nominees for the National Labor Relations Board hails from a notoriously mobbed-up union and is currently party to a lawsuit alleging he engaged in “a pattern of racketeering activity.”
We’ll let you know when we find a department of the Obama administration untainted by scandal.