The scandals involving ideology-based discrimination and politically motivated targeting under the Administration of President Barack Obama are revealing more than a lack of oversight; they’re revealing a pervasive culture of illegal, unethical and immoral discrimination against conservatives and political opposition emanating from the executive branch — an ironic truth that defines the Nation’s first Black President.
After suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for access under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the nonprofit, libertarian-leaning Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) finally got its hands on public documents that show how the EPA handled public information requests made in 2012 from individuals, nonprofits and other organizations.
In light of what the Nation has learned about the Obama Administration over the past week, CEI’s findings may anger you — but they won’t surprise anyone.
CEI found that conservative groups that wanted public information from the EPA repeatedly were charged access fees that the agency, historically, had waived. (In fact, Federal-level offices don’t charge watchdog and media groups for information that’s intended to be shared for the public’s benefit.) Over the same period, requests from environmental advocacy groups were expedited with fee waivers more than 90 percent of the time.
According to CEI’s report, which appeared Tuesday:
It’s not just the IRS that treats groups on the right differently from the rest. According to documents obtained by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Environmental Protection Agency is in on it too.
Public records produced by EPA in response to a lawsuit filed by CEI under the Freedom of Information Act illustrate a pattern of making it far more difficult for limited-government groups — in particular those who argue for more freedom and less EPA — to access public records.
Such groups are precisely those Congress and courts made clear FOIA was intended to protect from fees being used as a hurdle to obtaining information, without prejudice as to their perspective. Worse, CEI has now obtained proof of the spectacularly disparate nature of the practice, specifically revealing extraordinarily favorable treatment of the same green groups it’s been shown to be collaborating with on its agenda…
What kind of proof? “Green” groups like the Natural resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and EarthJustice had information fees waived in 72 of 82 cases, while CEI fellow Christopher Horner saw the EPA “effectively or expressly denied” 14 of his 15 attempts to obtain the same information free of charge. Horner appealed each denial and won each appeal, without being asked to explain why he was appealing.
“That these denials are ritually overturned on appeal, not after I presented any new evidence or made any new point, but simply restated what was a detailed and heavily sourced legal document to begin with, reaffirms the illegitimacy of these hurdles EPA places in the way of those who cause it problems. EPA’s practice is to take care of its friends and impose ridiculous obstacles to deny problematic parties’ requests for information,” Horner said in the report.
CEI calls the unmistakable favoritism “mind-boggling.”
… The numbers for a sampling of comparable “national” groups are mind-boggling. Of Sierra Club’s 15 requests, EPA granted 11. And Sierra Club received the harshest of treatments. In fact, EPA granted 19 of NRDC’s 20 requests and 17 of EarthJustice’s 19 requests. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility went a perfect 17-for-17. The Waterkeeper Alliance had all three of its requests granted, Greenpeace and the Southern Environmental Law Center each were 2-for-2, the Center for Biological Diversity 4-for-4.
That is, these green pressure groups encountered a cooperative EPA 92 percent of the time, but [CEI’s] requests…were rejected more than 93 percent of the time.
Unlike the discriminatory treatment the IRS gave election-season conservative groups, the EPA’s stonewalling has an extra, and equally sinister, dimension: Not only is the agency’s favoritism discriminatory in its own right; it also skews the debate over environmental issues by artificially depriving one side — the conservative side dismissed by the Obama Administration — of information necessary to a well-informed conversation. One side’s been getting fast and free information; the other side’s had to pay and wait.
These Presidential scandals are getting hard to track, and the EPA story is just beginning to circulate. Who knows how much attention it will command in an already-crowded news cycle that has Obama and his cabinet game-planning strategic, disingenuous responses to the Benghazi, Libya, scandal; the Internal Revenue Service scandal; the Associated Press scandal?
As scandals keep mounting and the President’s ability to truthfully narrate his role publicly wilts, one wonders how soon the day will come when, somewhere deep within the White House, Michelle Obama will turn to her husband and in a beleaguered, defeated voice, whisper: “Let’s move.”