Washington, D.C. – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Paul Broun (R-Ga.) today sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Inspector General (IG) requesting additional information about how his office will conduct an investigation into allegations that EPA disproportionately charged conservative organizations fees for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, while waiving those same fees for environmental groups. A vital establishment of government transparency, FOIA is the law by which the public and media can access information from the federal government that has otherwise not been made available.
“EPA’s actions are cause for concern in light of similar allegations at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that the agency is targeting conservative political groups for unfair and improper screening,” the lawmakers wrote. “These discriminatory actions reflect an unfair and unequal application of the law, designed to clearly dissuade people and groups of a different political mindset than the administration. Such actions can have a chilling effect on the public, and raise questions about the integrity of critical agencies.”
In light of these allegations, EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe requested the IG’s office conduct an audit focusing on the agency’s use of FOIA fee waivers. In their letter, Chairmen Smith and Broun urge the IG to conduct a swift and thorough audit of such discriminatory practices. As part of the review, they charged the IG to determine “whether these are the actions of a few individuals, or the philosophy of leadership at EPA.”
The Members also requested that the IG provide the Committee with details about the audit process, expectations for the investigation and the timeframe for when the audit will be concluded.
The full letter can be found HERE.