Later, her agency admitted that three other top EPA officials had their computers erased despite the federal court order and ongoing FOIA case -- the record is silent on whether Browner's son was playing games on their desktops, too. A further belated admission revealed that the agency had failed to search Browner's office for public documents as required by Landmark's public disclosure lawsuit.
Not only were the top officials' hard drives cleared and reformatted, but e-mail backup tapes were erased and reused in violation of records preservation practices.
After a two-year legal battle, Lamberth finally held the EPA in contempt of court for the systemic file destruction -- actions Lamberth lambasted as "contumacious conduct" (obstinate resistance to authority). The agency was also forced to pay all of Landmark Legal Foundation's court-related fees. As is typical in Washington, Browner weaseled out of any serious repercussions. Lamberth inexplicably decided that slapping the agency as a whole with contempt -- rather than any individual -- would deter future cover-ups.
Is this a gamble the Obama administration wants to take? Browner has crossed the line and violated public trust before in her capacity as eco-chief. Early in her first term as EPA head, a congressional subcommittee caught her using taxpayer funds to create and send out illegal lobbying material to over 100 grassroots environmental lobbying organizations. She exploited her office to orchestrate a political campaign by left-wing groups, who turned around and attacked Republican lawmakers for supporting regulatory reform.
These are the very same groups -- anti-business, anti-sound science, pro-eco-hysteria -- that Browner would be working arm in arm with as Obama's "energy czar." This is regression we can't afford.
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