Another scandal in which the Obama Administration appears to have leaked confidential information for political purposes has reached the Senate. The Washington Free Beacon reports on a bipartisan letter challenging the Environmental Protection Agency for releasing personal data on 80,000 farmers and livestock operations to environmentalist groups:
“We are writing today to express concern regarding the sensitivity of the data that was released,” the senators wrote in a letter to EPA acting administrator Bob Perciasepe. “Unlike most regulated facilities, farms and ranches are also homes and information regarding these facilities should be treated and released with that understanding.”
The letter follows an April report by Fox News revealing the agency had released the personal information on thousands of farmers, many of whom had only a few animals.
The information was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by Earth Justice, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Pew Charitable Trust.
According to a document obtained by FOX the EPA said “some of the personal information that could have been protected … was released.”
There go the miscreants at Fox News again, breaking stories the Obama Administration doesn’t think good citizens need to know about.
Senators asked the EPA in the letter why some of the information was collected in the first place and under whose authority it was released.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R., Mo.) said the EPA intentionally targeted farmers when it released the information.
“Whether they’re spying on farmers or leaking their personal information, the EPA is clearly targeting farm families, and this has to stop,” Blunt, said in a statement Thursday. “Americans deserve answers immediately on what the Obama administration is doing to stop this clear invasion of privacy.”
This isn’t the first time the Senate has inquired about the matter, but the EPA has been dragging its feet on a response. “The EPA’s disclosure of personal information is not the first time sensitive data has been leaked to outside organizations under the Obama Administration,” noted Senator John Thune (R-SD). “These leaks provide further evidence of the growing credibility gap between the Obama Administration and the American public. This troubling pattern of unauthorized release of government-obtained personal information is unacceptable political intimidation. Americans deserve transparency and accountability.”
Thune also was not amused by the EPA’s announcement that it would attempt to recover the data. “It is inexcusable for the EPA to release the personal information of American families and then call for it back, knowing full well that the erroneously released information will never be fully returned,” declared the Senator.
I’m surprised they haven’t tried blaming the leak on “Richard Windsor,” the award-winning imaginary employee created by former administrator Lisa Jackson to hide her email correspondence from the public.
The targets of the EPA’s politicized leaks aren’t amused, either. Groups such as Farm Futures: NCBA and the National Pork Producers Council were described as “furious” in a post by Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) at Breitbart News:
The information released by EPA covers livestock operations in more than 30 states, including many family farmers who feed less than 1,000 head and are not subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act.
“When we reviewed the information submitted by the states and released by EPA, we were alarmed at the detail of the information provided on hard working family farmers and ranchers, family operations including my own,” said NCBA past president J.D. Alexander, a cattle feeder from Pilger, Nebraska.
“It is beyond comprehension to me that with threats to my family from harassment atop bio-security concerns, that EPA would gather this information only to release it to these groups. This information details my family’s home address and geographic coordinates. The only thing it doesn’t do is chauffeur these extremists to my house. For some operations, even telephone numbers and deceased relatives are listed.”
Look, folks, if you want Big Government, you’re going to have to get used to its big eyeballs. Control requires information. And Big Government is going to share that information with its loyal allies – the people who want to use government power to further their agenda or increase their profits, but are officially classified as “civic-minded” instead of “special interests” because their goals align with the greatest special interest of all, the State itself.
The EPA has also recently taken heat for the way it slow-walks information request from conservative groups, and charges them fees that it waives for left-wing organizations. That scandal is under investigation by the House Oversight Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee, as once again reported by Fox News:
“I don’t think it is fair at all. It is not fair to the American taxpayer — the American taxpayer should expect and demand that the EPA treats everyone equally in regard to these requests,” said Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Tim Murphy, a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. “This cannot be tolerated. As we see more federal agencies with this kind of bias, it is and should be a concern for all of us.”
Research by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a conservative Washington, D.C., think tank, claims that the political bias is routine when it comes to deciding which groups are charged fees. Christopher Horner, senior fellow at CEI, said liberal groups have their fees for documents waived about 90 percent of the time, in contrast with conservative groups that it claims are denied fee waivers about 90 percent of the time.
Maybe it’s taking so long for the EPA to answer inquiries about these scandals because agency employees are busy fooling around in their “man-caves,” as the New York Daily News described them:
The agency is cracking down on a huge man cave apparently built with taxpayer money in its main headquarters warehouse outside Washington, D.C. — complete with exercise equipment that could rival a gym’s, big-screen televisions, couches, microwaves, refrigerators, pin-up photos, magazines and books, an official EPA report states.
The Landover, Md., warehouse workers, who are employed by a private contractor, hid their recreation room oasis from security cameras by screens, partitions and piled up boxes.
The makeshift fitness studio was perhaps the most extravagant part of the 70,000-square-foot facility, with floor tiles from storage to carpet the area and notebooks from storage to log their workouts, the report said.
The same warehouse is filled with a charming combination of safety hazards and even more wasted taxpayer money, including “untouched refrigerators from 2007 and unopened computers from 2005.” But remember, if we slow down the growth of government spending by less than two percent, we have to shut down White House tours and fire air-traffic controllers, because there’s absolutely no fat to cut anywhere.