GOP chairman subpoenas EPA on texts

Rep. Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithDemocratic staffer says Wendy Davis will run for Congress Ex-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm Anti-corruption group hits Congress for ignoring K Street, Capitol Hill 'revolving door' MORE (R-Texas) has filed a formal subpoena in its investigation into whether Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) improperly deleted text messages.

Smith’s subpoena forces the agency to turn over any information it has regarding the about 5,000 text messages that Smith, chairman of the House Science Committee, alleges that the EPA destroyed in violation of record retention law. 

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In the panel’s months-long investigation, agency has only turned over some of the records, and maintains that only one text message received by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in her tenure was related to official business and subject to retention rules, Smith said.

“EPA would have the committee believe that of the more than 5,000 text messages sent or received by you on your agency phone, the only one that was related to official business and required consideration for archiving was received less than ten days after the committee wrote to the agency requesting information about your text messages and archiving practices,” Smith wrote in a letter accompanying the official subpoena.

The conflict relates to a lawsuit brought by the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute regarding public records requests the group made for McCarthy’s text messages.

The EPA told a federal court in October that it may have lost or deleted the texts, but they were not subject to retention rules nonetheless.

That spurred Smith to kick off an investigation, and he threatened earlier in March to subpoena McCarthy as part of it.

EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia said that the agency has been fully cooperative with Smith and his staff.

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

Purchia added that her agency “is committed to both the letter and the spirit of the law when it comes to records management and transparency.”

Smith sent the subpoena the day before he is scheduled to lead a hearing on the EPA’s record retention policies and his investigation.