Is the scandalpalooza picking up scandal #5? (Benghazi, IRS, DOJ/Press, Fast and Furious). This time something smells rotten at the EPA. The Environmental Protection Agency is facing Inspector General and Congressional probes regarding political targeting of conservative groups.
The EPA is not preventing groups from becoming tax exempt, but charging conservative groups for information while giving freebies to liberal groups. The fees applied to Freedom of Information Act requests — allegedly, the EPA waived them for liberal groups far more often than it did for conservative ones.
Two committees within the House of Representatives are investigating the charges, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (the oversight committee is also holding hearings on the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups).
“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.
That is precisely what the FOIA was passed to prevent. But the EPA records provided to the CEI in response to a Freedom of
Information Act lawsuit demonstrate an ongoing pattern of making it far more
difficult and expensive for limited-government groups to access public records,.
“The idea is to throw hurdles in our way,” charged Horner, who says he decided to look into the fee structure after the EPA repeatedly turned down his group for waivers.
“In 20 cases of ours, since the beginning of last year, we were expressly denied, or denied by them simply refusing to respond, in 18 out of 20 cases,” said Horner, explaining that the batting percentage for fees waived in favor of liberal groups is overwhelming.
“Earth Justice was batting 17 out of 19, the Sierra Club was the worst, at 70 percent granted, 11 out of 15. You add up some other groups and we found that 75 out of 82 groups granted, because these are the groups that the EPA has decided are the favored groups.”
Not surprisingly, the EPA has denied any favoritism.
The EPA told Fox News:
“The Office of Inspector General received from the Environmental Protection Agency the official request to look into this matter just over a week ago, so the request is currently under review by the OIG at this early stage.”
As in the case of the IRS, this seems like an attempt by some people in the Obama administration to bring political debate to a screeching halt.
“This is no different than denying a group that you don’t agree with … whether you are the IRS or the EPA, their tax-exempt status,” said Horner.
“You’re talking about essentially making or breaking them, or at a minimum, snuffing out their ability to pursue their objectives.”
This is an ongoing pattern with the Obama administration doing anything it can to stifle debate. It demands “omerta” from its employees as we learned in the Benghazi, and Fast and Furious Scandals, while trying its best to hide information from the voters and ban dissent as in the DOJ, IRS, and now this EPA scandal.
As Becky Gerritson said so eloquently yesterday;
“I am telling my government that you have forgotten your place … it is not your right to assert an agenda.”