The EPA reports more lost emails as the House Oversight chair threatens contempt of Congress

If a certain fecal matter had been the only instance of disrepute revealed from within the ranks of the Environmental Protection Agency today, that would have been more than enough; alas… it wasn’t.

Following last year’s discovery that one high-level EPA employee had defrauded the agency of almost a million dollars over more than a decade while pretending to be working in conjunction with the CIA and doing little real work, among other scandals and sneaky power grabs, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa requested last November that the EPA turn over all communications with the White House covering the past five years (or else submit a list of those documents over which they believe they have the right to exert executive privilege) in order to investigate whether the White House has ever interfered in the way the EPA responds to Congressional inquiries. The EPA has yet to really comply, and in a hearing this morning, Issa notified the chief administrator that he intends to hold the federal agency in contempt of Congress if it doesn’t pony up in very short order. Via The Hill:

The EPA has not provided Issa with the documents requested in November, nor has it asserted executive privilege over them.

“The subpoena calls for you to deliver the documents. You have not done so,” Issa told EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy at a hearing. “Are you prepared to deliver the documents or provide an item-by-item privilege log of executive privilege?”

McCarthy didn’t respond directly, instead telling Issa that her staff has provided the committee with documents she believes answer its questions.

“I am informing you today that it is my intention to hold the Environmental Protection Agency in contempt,” Issa continued. “I will schedule a business meeting to do so on the first business day available for this committee.”

Even better, and as Jazz reminded us over the weekend, the bureaucrats of the Internal Revenue Service are just latecomer copycats compared to the “the dog ate my hard drive/emails” trailblazers over at the EPA. In the same hearing this morning, the EPA again pulled out that handy-dandy excuse in regard to a particular batch of emails to which the House Oversight Committee is seeking access. Via Politico:

The environmental agency is having trouble locating emails belonging to a former agency employee and pulling information from his crashed hard drive, House members revealed Wednesday while questioning Administrator Gina McCarthy at a hearing on complaints of mismanagement.

“What is it with bureaucrats and public employees … the hard drives crash?” asked Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.).

He and others on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee questioned McCarthy about missing information related to the committee’s investigation into the potential environmental impact of a proposed gold and copper mine in the Bristol Bay watershed in Alaska.

McCarthy kept insisting throughout the hearing that “we’re having trouble getting information off of it and are trying different ways” and that the former employee in question “was a fish biologist, not a decision maker” — and hey, you know what? That could very well be true. The question at this late hour of rather diminished Obama-administration credibility, however, is of course: Why on earth would we believe that?