FEBRUARY 23, 2010
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to obtain documents related to President Obama’s Special Assistant on Energy and Climate Carol Browner and her role in crafting official U.S. climate policy. Ms. Browner, who was never subjected to Senate confirmation, reportedly served as the Obama administration’s point person in secret negotiations to establish automobile emission standards and also participated in negotiations involving cap and trade legislation.
Through its FOIA requests, filed on December 28, 2009, Judicial Watch specifically seeks all records of communications, contacts, or correspondence between Browner and the EPA or Energy Department concerning:
A. Negotiations and/or discussions among the auto industry, the State of California, and agencies of the United States with respect to fuel-standards/auto emissions for the time period between January 20, 2009 and June 1, 2009; and
B. Negotiations/discussions with respect to cap and trade legislation for the time period between June 1, 2009 and October 1, 2009.
EPA had failed to respond to these requests in any matter. Subsequent to filing its lawsuit on February 18, Judicial Watch received a letter from the Energy Department (dated February 17) in which the agency denied that it had any documents responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests.
According to press reports, Ms. Browner instructed individuals involved in auto emissions negotiations to "put nothing in writing, ever." The New York Times reported that Browner made every effort to "keep their discussions as quiet as possible."
Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests involving Ms. Browner are part of a large-scale investigation of President Obama’s so-called "czars" — especially those who have not been subject to the Senate confirmation process but who nonetheless seem to exercise authority in a way that raises constitutional questions. Judicial Watch has filed a FOIA request with the Office of Management and Budget as well as requests with each separate "czar" office as part of its investigation.
"Here we have an Obama administration ‘czar’ conducting secret meetings and instructing participants to avoid producing a written record. This is the perfect storm for corruption: concentrated executive power with no congressional oversight and no transparency," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "This stonewall on the ‘Climate Czar’ documents seems yet another chapter in the Climategate scandal."