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Christie Whitman Did The Same Things She Now Attacks Trump For

Gross Hypocrisy and The Whitewash of Media Amnesia

Veteran reporter Colleen O’Dea has a disgraceful piece at NJ Spotlight today regarding former Gov. Christie Whitman’s rehabilitation as Co-Chair of a national Taskforce , see: FORMER NJ GOV. WHITMAN TO CHAIR NATIONAL TASK FORCE TO FIX U.S. DEMOCRACY

The piece is all the more disgusting because O’Dea was in NJ during Whitman’s term in office and reported on her self serving pro-corporate “Open For Business” environmental policy rollbacks (for the details on that, see the Bergen Record’s award winning expose series which won a national journalism award for “A New Genre of Environmental Reporting “).

Whitman masked those rollbacks by a sophisticated, carefully cultivated, and self serving PR campaign – with the exception, as reported by the NY Times of a failed Rancocas Creek canoe trip  – a fiasco locally reported on page 1 with an embarrassing photo of protesters confronting Whitman under a headline: “Whitman Paddles Into Trouble (5/11/97) – a PR stunt conducted at the time she was rolling back clean water protections.

The Whitman PR “greenwash” campaign was based largely on imagery (an “outdoors image” created by bicycle and horseback riding, e.g. see NY Times Whitman Campaigns Down on Her Farm

Whitman also relied on her corrupt manipulation amounting to bribery of state “conservation” groups with open space money and her grossly inflated “million acre” goal (thanks again, Mike Catania, you scumbag!). For details on that, see The Nation’s superb report: Whitman, A Toxic Choice”.

Did Ms. O’Dea forget about all that?

But Whitman’s attack on President Trump – while accurate –  is grossly hypocritical because she did exactly the same things she correctly criticizes Trump for.

1. Whitman lied about the “safety” of the air in Manhattan post 9/11

Whitman attacked President Trump for lying and subverting democracy.

Whitman, in the wake of 9/11, prominently told the public – repeatedly – that the air in southern Manhattan was “safe” to breath.

That statement was a blatant lie and had no scientific basis. News reports at the time:

NEW YORK (CNN) — The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) chief investigator has accused the EPA and other government agencies of deliberately not testing the air quality in the World Trade Center area properly and possibly covering up the reasons why.

“I believe EPA did not do that because they knew it would come up not safe and so they are involved in providing knowingly false information to the public about safety,” said Hugh Kaufman, chief investigator for the EPA’s Ombudsman Office, at a public hearing Saturday with scientists, residents, and small business owners. […]

Kaufman has said earlier this month that he believes the air quality at Ground Zero is worse than the EPA will admit, and that he believes the agency has been misleading the public about the inherent risks for residents and workers in the area. […]

Although employed by the EPA, Kaufman has been an outspoken critic of the agency. EPA Administrator Christie Whitman issued an order in November to dissolve the ombudsman’s position.

Also attending the meeting was EPA Ombudsman Robert Martin, who is investigating testing methods used by the agency.

The NY Times later reported:  E.P.A. Whistle-Blower Says U.S. Hid 9/11 Dust Danger

A senior scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency has accused the agency of relying on misleading data about the health hazards of World Trade Center dust.

The scientist, who has been sharply critical of the agency in the past, claimed in a letter to members of the New York Congressional delegation this week that test reports in 2002 and 2003 distorted the alkalinity, or pH level, of the dust released when the twin towers collapsed, downplaying its danger.

The claims of that EPA whistleblower, Cate Jenkins, were found validated, see: EGREGIOUS EPA MISCONDUCT DELIVERS WHISTLEBLOWER WIN

Washington, DC — In a scathing decision, a U.S. Department of Labor judge has ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency improperly sought to conceal exonerating evidence and illegally retaliated against a whistleblower. In the ruling posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a U.S. Department of Labor administrative law judge catalogued a trove of misconduct by EPA lawyers covering years of litigation.

On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the national whistleblower protection group, PEER, reported:

The EPA abolished its National Ombudsman in the middle of its investigation of charges that the EPA lied to the public and did not perform their mandatory duties to protect the public after the attacks.  The Ombudsman acted as a neutral party to resolve citizen and industry complaints about EPA’s performance. […]

Five EPA press releases issued within ten days of September 11, 2001 reassured the public that the air was safe, prompting residents, office workers and children to return to Lower Manhattan.  A September 18, 2001 EPA press release, for instance, quoted Administrator Christie Whitman saying “Given the scope of the tragedy last week, I am glad to reassure the people of New York and Washington, DC that their air is safe to breath [sic] and the water is safe to drink.”

After those statements, under court protection against threats by Administrator Whitman to terminate his office, National Ombudsman Robert Martin managed to hold two hearings in Lower Manhattan to take testimony from witnesses and experts in response to charges that EPA’s 9/11 response was imprudent, if not outright dishonest.  As a result of those hearings, the Ombudsman found that –

  •  EPA officials knew the collapse of the World Trade Towers filled Lower Manhattan with carcinogenic asbestos-containing-materials, but refused to follow proper rules on protecting the public from it; and
  • EPA’s false assurances about the safety of outdoor and indoor air in Lower Manhattan insulated insurance companies from having to pay claims that arose out of exposure to released toxins.

After the Ombudsman made these findings, in April of 2002, EPA prevailed in court and terminated the office, locking Martin out of his office while he was testifying about the EPA response before the New York State legislature.  In 2003, EPA’s own Office of Inspector General confirmed the Ombudsman’s public pronouncements.  The Inspector General also found that the Bush White House skewed EPA press releases and that “the desire to reopen Wall Street” factored into EPA statements.

Chief Investigator Kaufman was shunted off to an inconsequential job but he kept up his legal fight to restore the Ombudsman office through the Bush years.  After the Obama administration came in, it continued to resist Mr. Kaufman’s action.  The case is currently before the Department of Labor Administrative Review Board.

 ###

See video of Administrator Whitman’s Lies About 9/11 dangers

View video of former Administrator Whitman Testifying About Her Statements

Revisit Congressional hearings into EPA 9/11 response

2. Whitman attacked her own agency’s scientists and investigators and abolished the EPA Office investigating her conduct post 9/11.

Whitman criticized Trump for undermining democratic norms, institutions, and the rule of law by attacking government officials. A key part of that attack is Trump’s efforts to block investigations of his Administration by Congress and the Special Prosecutor and firing FBI Director Comey.

But can you imagine if Trump simply abolished the whole Office of Special Prosecutor? Whitman did something similar.

Whitman has a notorious history for attacking scientists and whistleblowers and has abused her government powers to retaliate against them.

Whitman even abolished the EPA office that was conducting an investigation into her actions as EPA administrator in the wake of 9/11. These abuses have been officially documented by federal investigations, see: OSHA: EPA Must Reinstate Whistleblower

Hugh Kaufman, who was a policy analyst for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response and the EPA ombudsman’s lead investigator at the World Trade Center, “suffered a continuing pattern of discrimination,” according to Richard D. Soltan, OSHA’s regional administrator. …

Its investigation determined that there was “no evidence of a valid reason for his removal from ombudsman support duties,” said the agency, which investigated the case for about a year and generated a file one foot thick. It is OSHA’s job to investigate and issue findings on whistleblower complaints related to working conditions.

Kaufman worked closely with former EPA Ombudsman Robert Martin, who resigned in April following the announcement by EPA Administrator Christie Whitman that Martin’s office become part of the EPA Inspector-General’s Office. Martin claimed the move was made to silence him. …

Both Kaufman and Martin were highly critical of safety and health efforts, or lack of effort, at the World Trade Center site.

The NY Times also reported on this abuse by Whitman – but failed to name her, instead referring to “EPA Management” – in an overview of the career of EPA whistleblower Hugh Kaufman:

A decade ago, Kaufman helped lead an investigation into EPA’s efforts to cover up the hazards at Ground Zero in Manhattan in his role as chief investigator for EPA’s ombudsman office. The independent inquiry by Kaufman and former EPA Ombudsman Robert Martin garnered plenty of attention, even after it was shut down when the ombudsman’s office was eliminated by EPA management.

[Update: speaking of abolishing Offices the investigate wrongdoing, I forgot to mention that as NJ Governor, Whitman abolished the Office of  the NJ Environmental Prosecutor – which was created by the Florio Administration – under he “Open for Business” policy. ~~~ end update.]

3. A federal judge found Whitman’s behavior post 9/11 was so egregiously false, contrary to EPA’s mission, and contradicted by science that it “shocked the conscience”

Whitman criticized Trump for behavior, lies, and language that violates democratic and constitutional norms, thereby  eroding democracy, truth and rule of law.

But Chief Judge Jacobs, of the US Circuit Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, found that Whitman’s own behavior and language were false and so outrageous that they met a legal standard: they “shocked the conscience” (see LOMBARDI v. WHITMAN):

A September 18 press release reported that EPA’s testing of the air and drinking water showed that “these vital resources are safe” and that the “vast majority” of air samples taken near the site measured harmful substances at below maximum acceptable levels. According to the release, the highest asbestos levels were close to the site itself, where rescue and cleanup workers were supposedly being supplied with adequate equipment. The same release quoted defendant Whitman:

“We are very encouraged that the results from our monitoring of air quality and drinking water conditions in both New York and near the Pentagon show that the public in these areas is not being exposed to excessive levels of asbestos or other harmful substances,” Whitman said.  “Given the scope of the tragedy from last week, I am glad to reassure the people of New York and Washington, D.C. that their air is safe to breath [sic] and their water is safe to drink,” she added.

In fact, according to the EPA Inspector General, 25 percent of the bulk dust samples taken up to that point recorded asbestos at levels representing a significant health risk. […]

The EPA is designated as the agency in our country to protect human health and the environment, and is mandated to work for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people. The agency enforces regulations regarding pollution in our environment and the presence of toxic and hazardous substances, and has endorsed and promulgated regulations for hazardous and toxic materials, such as asbestos and lead. As head of the EPA, Whitman knew of this mandate and took part in and directed the regulatory activities of the agency. Given this responsibility, the allegations in this case of Whitman’s reassuring and misleading statements of safety after the September 11, 2001 attacks are without question conscience-shocking.

4. Whitman was investigated by and excoriated by the House Judiciary Committee

Whitman has criticized Trump as a national embarrassment, implicitly relying on various investigations by Congress and Special Prosecutor.

Whitman was investigated by the House Judiciary Committee, see: Dying Jersey Guy Recalls Whitman 9-11 Remarks – “She’s a Liar”

Christie Whitman testifies before the House Judiciary Committee to defend her post 9/11 EPA actions and remarks. I took this photo - apologize for poor quality!

Christie Whitman testifies before the House Judiciary Committee to defend her post 9/11 EPA actions and remarks. I took this photo – apologize for poor quality!

During that hearing, Chairman Nadler nailed Whitman’s lies – which she had no remorse, no regrets, and no apologies for and still continued to deny. Nadler’s question:

REP. JERROLD NADLER: In a series of EPA press releases beginning on September 13th, the following words were used to describe the air conditions: “good news,” “causes no concern”, “not detectable,” “no significant health risk”, and “safe to breathe”. Ms. Whitman, do these words and phrases convey a sense of danger or even of caution? Or do they, in fact, convey a sense of safety and security?

CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN: Mr. Chairman, those words, to the best of my recollection, in every effort that I made at the time, were also added with the phrase, however, on the pile it is different.

Thousands of first responders died as a result of Whitman’s lies.

That is despicable behavior that violates civil norms and erodes trust in democratic institutions, no?

5. Whitman engaged in racial profiling with NJ State Police and was photographed enjoying it

In her own twitter rant, Whitman called Trump a racist:

There is now no denying that @realDonaldTrump is a racist. He denigrates anyone who doesn’t look like him. #Republicans have to stop making excuses for him and call him out for what he is – an embarrassment to the office.

Rich, privileged, white racists, who live in “Pontefract” glass houses – especially those photographed engaged in abuse of power and racial profiling with that NJ State Police with a huge smile on her face – shouldn’t throw stones. LOOK:

Whitman conducts her notorious “frisk” in Camden with State Police profiling team. Note the broad smile.

Whitman conducts her notorious “frisk” in Camden with State Police profiling team. Note the broad smile.

6. Whitman signed of on a scientifically false Report to Congress that was the basis for the “Haliburton loopholes” for fracking

Whitman blasted Trump’s climate change policies and EPA’s close ties to the fossil energy industry.

Whitman also did dirty deeds to deregulate the oil and gas industry.

All the fracktivists out there need to know about Whitman’s role in a major source of the fracking disaster.

Whitman signed off on a scientifically flawed EPA Report to Congress of fracking and the Safe Drinking Water Act underground injection program. That Report effectively green lighted and led to the infamous “Haliburton Loophole” in the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

Thanks to a brave EPA scientists and whistleblower, we know that this corruption of science went down during Whitman’s tenure at EPA:

The EPA completed its study in 2004, finding that fracturing “poses little or no threat” to drinking water. The EPA also concluded that no further study of hydraulic fracturing was necessary. The 2004 EPA study has been called “scientifically unsound” by EPA whistleblower Weston Wilson. In an October 2004 letter to Colorado’s congressional delegation, Wilson recommended that EPA continue investigating hydraulic fracturing and form a new peer review panel that would be less heavily weighted with members of the regulated industry. In March of 2005, EPA Inspector General Nikki Tinsley found enough evidence of potential mishandling of the EPA hydraulic fracturing study to justify a review of Wilson’s complaints.

More disgusting hypocrisy and we are all now living with the fracking consequences.

7. Whitman reversed the Clinton EPA’s legal findings that greenhouse gas emissions were regulated pollutants under the Clean Air Act, setting back EPA efforts to reduce emission by over a decade.

Whitman has correctly severely criticized Trump’s environmental policies, particularly his false claim that climate change is a “hoax” and across the board attack on climate policies, including repeal of the Obama EPA Clean Power Plan adopted under the Clean Air Act pursuant to EPA’s “endangerment finding” that GHG emissions were “pollutants” regulated by the Clean Air Act.

But Whitman engaged in her own disgraceful climate denial and set back EPA efforts to regulate GHG’s under the Clean Air Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for over a decade. For full details on that, see: Setting the Record Straight on Christie Whitman and Global Warming.

As EPA Administrator, Whitman brought to Washington her legal Counsel from her NJ Governor’s Office, Bob Fabricant. Under Whitman’s direction, Fabricant wrote a notorious memo that found that greenhouse gas emissions were NOT regulated under the Clean Air Act, reversing the Clinton EPA and Justice Department’s legal analysis.

Four years later, Fabricant’s analysis was rejected and reversed by the US Supreme Court in the Massachusetts” decision, which ruled that CO2 is a pollutant subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act (The Supreme Court even cites Fabricant’s opinion in the text of the opinion, (@ p.8) citing EPA Federal Register notice 68 Fed. Reg. 52924 – . 52925–52929 (2003):

On September 8, 2003, EPA entered an order denying the rulemaking petition. 68 Fed. Reg. 52922. The agency gave two reasons for its decision: (1) that contrary to the opinions of its former general counsels, the Clean Air Act does not authorize EPA to issue mandatory regulations to address global climate change, see id., at 52925–52929; and (2) that even if the agency had the authority to set greenhouse gas emission standards, it would be unwise to do so at this time, id., at 52929–52931.

I provide the full chronology and legal documents in links on this post (scroll down, this post begins with 9/11 dust issues).

Whitman blasts Trump for ignoring the Paris Climate Treaty, but it’s hypocrisy again: (The Guardian):

Kyoto’s death warrant, announced by Christine Todd Whitman, head of the environmental protection agency (EPA), represented a blunt rebuff to European hopes of establishing a global programme to slow down the emission of greenhouse gases, amid startling new evidence of rapid climate change.

Whitman correctly blasted Trump and EPA Administrator Pruitt for denying and suppressing climate change science in EPA documents. 

Again, she did EXACTLY THE SAME thing AND DEFENDED IT. The NY Times reported:  REPORT BY E.P.A. LEAVES OUT DATA ON CLIMATE CHANGE

The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to publish a draft report next week on the state of the environment, but after editing by the White House, a long section describing risks from rising global temperatures has been whittled to a few noncommittal paragraphs.

The report, commissioned in 2001 by the agency’s administrator, Christie Whitman, was intended to provide the first comprehensive review of what is known about various environmental problems, where gaps in understanding exist and how to fill them.[…]

Mrs. Whitman said that she was ”perfectly comfortable” with the edited version and that the differences over climate change should not hold up the broader assessment of the nation’s air, land and water. […]

‘As it went through the review, there was less consensus on the science and conclusions on climate change,” Ms. Whitman said. ”So rather than go out with something half-baked or not put out the whole report, we felt it was important for us to get this out because there is a lot of really good information that people can use to measure our successes.”

Whitman is the ultimate hypocrite and revisionist! As a result, we may have exceeded irreversible climate tipping points.

8. Whitman lied to and sold out the people of Libby Montana regarding health risks of asbestos

Whitman criticized Trump for rolling back protections of public health.

But Whitman did the same thing with respect to the known carcinogen asbestos, see: How Do These People Sleep At Night?

Whitman brought John Spinello, another environmental lawyer and policy advisor from NJ to serve her in Washington at US EPA.

Under Whitman’s direction, Spinello’s role in “playing fast and loose with the facts and the law” was explored at length in a fascinating US Senate investigation report of how political pressure forced EPA to reverse its own decision to declare a public health emergency in Libby Montana.

A careful review of EPA staff interviews and Spinello’s emails reveals that he was deeply implicated in the scandaland worked between EPA and OMB to craft a bogus and discredited legal theory (see paragraph #6 on pages 31-35 –  For full Senate Report, see: United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works …

The Senate Report found (verbatim findings):

1) A public health emergency exists in Libby Montana.

2) EPA Region 8 and Administrator Whitman concurred in a decision to declare a public health emergency in April 2002.

3) the [White House’s] Office of Management and Budget (OMB) interfered with EPA’s decision-making process and … discouraged EPA from declaring a public health emergency.

4) EPA’s claims … stem from a concerted effort to avoid declaring a public health emergency, despite evidence that the declaration was warranted and the lack of factual basis [to support EPA’s claims].

5) the residents of Libby were denied medical care from the federal government to which they were legally entitled.

6) EPA has delayed finishing a toxicity assessment of the Libby asbestos for over six years.

7) EPA provided misleading information to the residents of Libby.

8 ) EPA has failed to address the national issue of  asbestos contaminated Zonolite Attic Insulation. [Note: this relates to a criminal investigation involving a notorious WR Grace asbestos site in Hamilton, NJ -see “Legislature to Probe Toxic Collapse in NJ“]

The practice of lying to the people of Libby was not Whitman’s first fib and it reminded me of some history with Whitman, as Governor of NJ.

9. Whitman, as NJ Governor, lied to the people of NJ about the health risks of toxic mercury, particularly pregnant and nursing women

As NJ Governor, Christine Todd Whitman certainly shocked my conscience as a DEP professional in 1994 when she lied to NJ residents about health risks – particularly to pregnant and nursing women and children – from toxic mercury contamination in NJ freshwater fish (for details of that episode see “New National Mercury Research Confirms NJ Experience”)

For details and press clips on that, see:  A question of credibility – Governor’s do get caught in lies.

The details include a confidential memo” from DEP scientists to Governor Whitman which advises her that her press statements regarding toxic mercury are false.

This confidential memo provided verbatim in this post and also is included in the US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee transcript of Whitman’s confirmation hearing for EPA Administrator. But you won’t find it on Whitman’s Wiki profile! See page 127-128 @ http://bulk.resource.org/gpo.gov/hearings/107s/69822.pdfto

It seems to be down the memory hole in today’s NJ Spotlight piece by Ms. O’Dea as well.

10. Whitman served as a high paid shill for the nuclear industry

Whitman has criticized Trump’s ethics, conflicts of interest, ties to industry, and promoting undue corrupt influence on regulatory agencies.

But Whitman also shilled for the nuclear industry, see:

The Nuclear Industry’s New Shill: Christie Todd Whitman

A Nexis news database search revealed that nearly two-thirds of news items that mentioned Christine Todd Whitman and nuclear power, from April 2006 to August 2007, failed to disclose her financial relationship with the industry. Granted, Whitman’s 35.5 percent disclosure rate is better than Moore’s dismal rate of 12 percent (measured from April 2006 to March 2007). That difference is at least partially due to the smaller number of articles mentioning Whitman, and the greater relative percentage of industry trade press pieces. (In both pools of stories, the trade press articles were most likely to mention the Nuclear Energy Institute’s funding of CASEnergy and its co-chairs.)

In some cases, journalists may have been informed about Whitman’s industry consulting but chose not to mention it in their reports. But there are several instances where Whitman herself presumably could have disclosed her Nuclear Energy Institute work, but failed to do so. These include a September 2006 television interview with Whitman, an April 2007 letter to the editor from Whitman to Iowa’s Des Moines Register, and op/eds penned by Whitman that ran in the Boston Globe (May 2006), Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (September 2006), and North Carolina’s Charlotte Observer (June 2007). CASEnergy press releases that named Whitman also failed to include disclosure.

Whitman is a rank opportunist and self promoting revisionist.

An appointment to a national Taskforce can not erase these many sins or rehabilitate Whitman.

Redemption demands far more, starting with an apology to the American people for all this.

[End Note: Full disclosure: I was fired by Whitman for blowing the whistle on her efforts to lie to the public and suppress science and derail regulation regarding health risks of mercury in in freshwater fish.]

PS – We haven’ forgotten how Whitman revealed her deep scientific ignorance to a NY Times reporter when she failed to understand the difference between ozone depletion and global warming. For this disturbing episode by Whitman, see this NY Times 12/21/00 story – which again shows Whitman is – at best – ignorant and incapable of admitting a serious error:

“But when asked to discuss her views on the science behind global warming on Tuesday, Governor Whitman responded by citing her doubts about the causes of the hole in the protective ozone layer high in the atmosphere.

She was asked: ”Global warming, what is your thought on what the state of science is and what can be done to address it?”

Mrs. Whitman said: ”Still somewhat uncertain. Clearly there’s a hole in the ozone, that has been identified. But I saw a study the other day that showed that that was closing. It’s not as clear, the cause and effect, as we would like it to be.”

When some experts on the atmosphere and pollution read a transcript of Mrs. Whitman’s statements, they said the governor had clearly confused two distinct, important global environmental problems: global warming and the ozone hole.

Today, asked to clarify her views, the governor said she might have misunderstood the question, but added that she did not think the two issues were ”not interrelated.”

”In both of those instances, I’m not sure that there’s a scientific consensus on how to deal with them,” Governor Whitman said today. ”There seems to be good enough evidence that both are occurring. But I am not aware of a uniformly agreed to scientific response, on either the causes or the solutions here.”

Others have written about this as follows:

Consider the Dec. 21 New York Times article detailing what happened when a reporter asked for her assessment of global warming.

“Still somewhat uncertain,” she told the reporter. “Clearly there’s a hole in the ozone–that has been identified. But I saw a study the other day that showed that that was closing. It’s not as clear, the cause and effect, as we would like it.” Later, Whitman added that global warming and ozone depletion were “interrelated” and that she wasn’t “sure that there’s a scientific consensus on how to deal with them.”

For environmentalists, Whitman’s answer is extremely unsettling. Not only did she confuse ozone depletion with global warming–two very different and distinct problems–but she also grossly understated scientists’ current understanding of both phenomena.”

Perhaps that’s why Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell called her the administration’s “Wind Dummy”.

And if you’ve gotten this far, as Whitman critics Trumps shortsighted greed and dismantling of government, recall this: In America; Whitman Steals the Future

Now many of the gains made over a quarter of a century are in danger of slipping away because the current Governor, Christine Todd Whitman, has chosen to finance her political ambitions with a popular buy-now, pay-later economic policy that will place a financial stranglehold on future generations of New Jerseyans.

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