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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Carol Browner's Hijinks: They Call This Open Government?

Mark Tapscott is on the case of White House "climate czar" Carol Browner, who appears to be continuing her wily Clinton Administration pattern of dodging and weaving whenever legal niceties interfere with her left-wing agenda.

As Mark writes in his piece entitled "'Put Nothing In Writing,' Browner Told Auto Execs on Secret White House CAFE Talks; Sensenbrenner Wants Investigation":
Carol Browner, former Clinton administration EPA head and current Obama White House climate czar, instructed auto industry execs "to put nothing in writing, ever" regarding secret negotiations she orchestrated regarding a deal to increase federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-WI, is demanding a congressional investigation of Browner's conduct in the CAFE talks, saying in a letter to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-CA, that Browner "intended to leave little or no documentation of the deliberations that lead to stringent new CAFE standards."

Federal law requires officials to preserve documents concerning significant policy decisions, so instructing participants in a policy negotation concerning a major federal policy change could be viewed as a criminal act...
Browner should answer these charges and very specifically, too, but President Obama must be held to account as well. It's not as though he didn't know what he was getting when he appointed Browner. As my husband David Ridenour pointed out in an op-ed published around the U.S. early this year, when Browner was head of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton Administration, it made a practice of skirting the law.

David wrote, in part:
Throughout [Carol Browner's] years as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in the Clinton administration, EPA officials routinely violated the Anti-Lobbying Act - a law prohibiting federal employees from using agency money for 'telephone, letter, printed or written matter, or other device intended or designed to influence in any manner a Member of Congress.'

In 1995, the EPA flagrantly violated that law when it lobbied against the Job Creation and Wage Enhancement Act, a bill that would have curbed some of the EPA's worst abuses.

As James Hinchman, comptroller general of the United States, noted, EPA officials 'distributed EPA fact sheets to various organizations' and 'directly lobbied the Congress.' Not only that, but an EPA regional administrator wrote a strong op-ed designed to stop the bill's passage.

Four years later, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., accused the EPA of violating the Anti-Lobbying Act again. Byrd - who has made a career of steering pork to his state - complained that the EPA's Transportation Partners Program was coordinating and funding anti-road lobbyists against the law and his state's interests. Browner was forced to terminate the program.
The following year, Browner was at it yet again. This time, her agency was accused of allowing special interests to improperly influence last-minute - so-called midnight - environmental regulations.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered the EPA to preserve communications with such groups. Instead, Browner had her computer hard drive re-initialized, wiping it clean. Lamberth then held the EPA in contempt for 'contumacious conduct.'
As little respect as she's shown for the law, Browner has shown even less for science. During her years at the EPA, agency scientists who didn't toe the party line were subjected to relentless harassment.

David Lewis, an EPA Science Achievement Award recipient, publicly criticized the quality of science used in crafting regulations. In response, the EPA charged Lewis with ethics violations and repeatedly denied him promotion. Although he won whistle-blower judgments against the EPA, he was eventually forced into retirement.
I recommend reading both Mark's full editorial on Browner's CAFE shenanigans and David's full op-ed on Carol Browner's ideology and ethics, as well as a second commentary by Mark, "Browner Has History of Deceit on Government Files" in today's Washington Examiner.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:47 AM

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