In an effort to further promote their Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, the EPA may have violated the Financial Services and Government appropriations Act of 2014, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). How they broke the law; through their use of government funds for “unauthorized publicity and propaganda” and the use of “indirect or grassroots lobbying”. To put it simply, the EPA used government funds, designated for other purposes, to orchestrate false support for their new land grab.
In a thinly veiled attempt to spin their rule into something more presentable, they used a crowd speaking website known as Thunderclap. The EPA set up an initial page and support goal, and when that goal was reached, Thunderclap would send out a tweet previously made by the EPA that would be automatically sent out by the campaign supporters, and thus spreading the message. Thunderclap estimates the EPA’s message reached almost 2 million people. The GAO argues that since the EPA did not take responsibility for the tweets themselves, they violated the statute.
They didn’t stop there either; they continued their grassroots campaign through the use of two outside websites in favor of the rule. Through the use of hyperlinks, the EPA allowed and promoted travel to websites, for the Surfrider Foundation and National Resources Defense Council, with opinions and blogs that would attempt to trick people into being in favor of the rule. This collusion clearly is against the statute, and even though the EPA didn’t directly post, they sent traffic to these sites, once more likely violating the statute.
This ignorance of the law by the EPA did not go unnoticed and was soon questioned by Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.). They petitioned the GAO to further back their claims. Low and behold, the GAO agreed that the EPA had violated the law, and thus should begin their own internal investigation into the matter.
Shockingly, the EPA ignored this and the Senators turned to the Attorney General to resolve the issue. In a letter to Attorney General Lynch, Senators Inhofe and Sasse stated:
“The Constitution is clear: ‘No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law… The Antideficiency Act is a tool, enshrined in law, designed to defend this basic principle. In effect, it says that any government employee who spends money not authorized by Congress has violated the principle of separation of powers.”
This power and land grab by the Obama Administration’s EPA only further exemplifies the lengths the Agency and Administration will go to further their agenda by skirting the will of the American people, Congress, and possibly the law.
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