EPA reveals more than 1,000 pages of texts, phone records from chief

EPA reveals more than 1,000 pages of texts, phone records from chief
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The records, which agency officials also sent to House Republicans, are in response to allegations from House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) that McCarthy used text messaging to avoid having communications recorded and subject to public records requests. 
 
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The EPA’s own review of the text messages shows 75 percent of her communications were with family members. Of the remaining texts, 4.2 percent are with her scheduling and security staff and 9.2 percent were with other EPA employees.
 
“In the interest of full transparency, EPA is providing the complete text of retained text messages with only minimal portions redacted, such as medical information, to protect personal privacy,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to Smith. “EPA is also providing the phone numbers associated with any text message to or from a government device assigned to Administrator McCarthy.”
 
The EPA gave Smith all of McCarthy’s phone records dating back to when she first came to the agency in 2009. She became its administrator in 2013.
 
The package the agency sent includes all texts, billing records, communications regarding texts that were for government business and various other material. The information sent to the committee redacts only McCarthy’s family members’ phone numbers, although more information is redacted in the public release. 
 
Despite sending the documents to Smith, the EPA maintains the records are not subject to the Federal Records Act and do not have to be retained in the same way as emails, a point of contention with House Republicans.
 
The GOP has sought to link the EPA to high-profile Obama administration scandals over transparency, such as those involving former IRS official Lois Lerner’s lost emails and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who used a personal email account instead of the one provided to her by the State Department.
 
The Competitive Enterprise Institute sued the EPA to try to obtain McCarthy’s texts. The agency said it may have deleted the texts, but it was not required to retain them anyway. 
 
Smith subpoenaed the texts in March after the EPA agreed to reveal only one message to the committee. 
 
The documents released Thursday are meant to back up the EPA’s contention that the vast majority of McCarthy’s texts do not pertain to official government business.