Top EPA Official, Watchdog Engaged In a Standoff That Inspector General Calls a ‘Flagrant Problem’
Environmental Protection Agency officials are in a standoff with the agency’s independent watchdog over a probe of EPA chief of staff Ryan Jackson’s efforts to influence a scientist ahead of her congressional testimony, with each side questioning the other’s legal authority.
In a letter released publicly Wednesday, acting EPA inspector general Charles J. Sheehan informed Congress that his office had encountered a “flagrant problem” in light of Jackson’s refusal to cooperate with an ongoing audit and investigation focused on his activities while in office.
“To countenance open defiance even in one instance — much less two, both by a senior official setting precedent for himself and all agency staff — is ruinous,” Sheehan wrote.
Agency officials have pushed back at the accusations, arguing that they had sought to accommodate the IG’s requests. “I have neither delayed nor refused to fully cooperate with EPA’s Inspector General,” Jackson wrote in a Nov. 5 letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler that was released by the agency.
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