House Republicans renewed their attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday, announcing an investigation into what they called an EPA “hit list” aimed at GOP lawmakers.
EPA Administrator Carol Browner retorted that the Republican charges were “nothing more than another attempt to silence me and distract the agency.”
“I am quite disturbed that the EPA is keeping a political enemies list or political hit list,” said Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., who accused the agency of keeping files of his political opponents during the 1994 election campaign.
Earlier this month, Rep. David McIntosh, R-Ind., charged Browner with illegal lobbying for sending a fact sheet to 150 nongovernmental businesses and interest groups criticizing the House GOP’s “Contract With America.”
Mica based his charges on a fax he received from the EPA congressional liaison office last Friday that was addressed to him and his two opponents in the 1994 election. He said two other Florida Republicans also received the fax, an invitation to a briefing on Florida wetlands, with the names of their opponents on the cover sheet.
The EPA, he said, had unwittingly revealed that it keeps a list of Republican opponents. “It’s a personal affront at the very least, if not a violation of rules and possibly law,” Mica said.
“This agency does not keep ‘secret files,”’ Browner said in a statement. “To suggest it does is not only insulting and ridiculous, it is offensive to the principle of open government which guides my management of EPA.”
An EPA official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a group issuing invitations to a series of wetlands conferences used names from an America Online computer file that clumped politicians from individual districts together. The EPA office became aware of the mistake after sending out six faxes, and immediately stopped the transmissions, he said.