GOP threatens EPA chief with subpoena for missing texts

The chairman of the House Science Committee is demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) turn over records on deleted text messages.

Rep. Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithAnti-corruption group hits Congress for ignoring K Street, Capitol Hill 'revolving door' K Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Ex-GOP Rep. Denham heads to lobbying firm MORE (R-Texas) told EPA chief Gina McCarthy in a letter that he is considering subpoenaing her for the documents if the agency does not produce them.

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“Those documents and information are central to the committee’s investigation,” Smith wrote in the Friday letter, which he released publicly Monday.

The conflict stems from a court case in which the EPA said it may have deleted or lost text messages that the Competitive Enterprise Institute sought as part of a public records request.

The group was seeking messages to and from McCarthy, records that the EPA says it does not believe are subject to record retention and disclosure rules.

Smith requested emails in January that may have mentioned the text messages. The EPA gave him some emails in February but Smith believes some are missing, including between 2009 and 2012.

EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia said the agency gave Smith the documents he requested and that it will continue to work with him on the issue.

“We are in regular communication with the committee and we will continue to be responsive to their requests,” Purchia said. “We have provided them with the information they asked for and we’re happy to work with them to answer their latest questions.”

She reiterated that the EPA does not believe any texts in question were subject to retention rules, and that EPA employees save texts that must be preserved.

The Science Committee believes the EPA left out multiple emails among high-ranking officials, including McCarthy, discussing the deleted texts.

“This follows a disturbing pattern of a lack of transparency relating to internal communications,” Smith said.