NPS Staff Use of Private Email Accounts

On March 14, 2017, WoofieLeaks posted additional documents recently received from the National Park Service showing that not one, but multiple National Park Service staff, including two former Superintendents, used their private email accounts to hide their collusion with anti-dog walking organizations in order to influence the outcome of the dog plan for Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA).  The documents were obtained via a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by Bay Area recreation and dog groups.   Spanning from 2011 to 2016, the personal account emails show Park Service officials' extensive behind-the-scenes coordination with a handful of special interest groups, including People for the Parks/Presidio, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, National Parks Conservation Association, and the Bay Area Chapter of the Sierra Club, that acted as surrogates to push the Park Service’s anti-dog walking agenda.

Using their private email accounts, Park Service officials helped external groups lobby elected officials, and write letters to the editor and opinion pieces.  They also colluded with these groups behind the scenes in order to generate letters, public comments, calls, and emails to the National Park Service and elected officials in support of GGNRA's proposed dog walking restrictions.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier is calling on the National Park Service to rescind the GGNRA Dog Management Plan because of this tainted process and for the Department of Interior Inspector General to conduct a full and public inquiry.   Click here to learn more.


Using her Private Email Account, GGNRA Superintendent Helps Anti-Dog Walking Groups Prepare to Lobby House Minority Leader

July 2015:  Using her personal email account, GGNRA Superintendent Christine Lehnertz helps Amy Meyer (People for the Parks/Presidio) and Neil Desai (National Parks Conservation Association) pull together information needed for their upcoming meeting with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's staff.  

"Hi Amy,
I will see what we can put together, and will call you to make sure I have it right. We can summarize what was in the supplemental EIS, which may be the best route to go."


GGNRA Senior Official and FOIA Officer Asks Anti-Dog Walking Collaborators to Only Respond to his Gmail Account

July 2015:  GGNRA senior official and FOIA officer Howard Levitt uses personal email account to pass information to behind-the-scenes collaborators Amy Meyer (People for the Parks/Presidio), Neal Desai (National Parks Conservation Association), and Becky Evans (Sierra Club Bay Area Chapter).

"Amy, Neal, and Becky:
Here's something I believe you were interested in seeing. More to come. Respond only to this home email address.
HL"

*Note: As GGNRA's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Officer, Howard Levitt was responsible for tracking, managing, and responding to FOIA requests directed to GGNRA for agency records.


Using Personal Email, Senior GGNRA Official Helps External Anti-Dog Walking Groups Prepare Congressional Advocacy Materials

July 2015: Howard Levitt, then Director of Communications and Partnerships at GGNRA, uses his personal email account to help Amy Meyer (People for the Parks/Presidio), Neal Desai (National Parks Conservation Association), and Becky Evans (Sierra Club Bay Area Chapter) prepare materials for their meeting with Leader Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco Chief of Staff Dan Bernal.

*Levitt copies GGNRA Superintendent Christine Lehnertz's personal email account. 


Senior GGNRA Official Thanks Anti-Dog Walking Collaborators for their Lobbying Efforts and BCCs GGNRA's Superintendent on her Personal Email Account

July 2015:  Using personal email, GGNRA Senior Official Howard Levitt thanks Becky Evans (Sierra Club Bay Area Chapter), Amy Meyer (People for the Parks/Presidio), and Neil Desai (National Parks Conservation Association) for their lobbying efforts in support of GGNRA's proposed dog walking restrictions.  The email comes after Evans sends Levitt a briefing from their meeting with Leader Pelosi's San Francisco Chief of Staff Dan Bernal.  

"Dear Becky, Amy, and Neal:

You're marvelous friends - thank you so much! These actions will be hugely important in the next phase, as the draft Rule is completed and released for comment. Let's stay in touch ... Howard"

*Levitt keeps GGNRA's Superintendent Christine Lehnertz in the loop by blind copying her personal email account. 


GGNRA Superintendent Strategizes with Anti-Dog Walking Group through Private Email to Influence House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

Aug. 2015:  GGNRA Superintendent Christine Lehnertz arranges special meeting with Amy Meyer (People for the Parks/Presidio) to discuss strategies for influencing House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's position on the GGNRA dog plan.  Lehnertz also gives Meyer special access to provide input on GGNRA's five-year strategic plan.


Senior GGNRA Official Aids External Anti-Dog Walking Partners with Advocacy Efforts via Personal Email

Sept. 2015: GGNRA senior official and FOIA officer Howard Levitt uses his personal email account to provide guidance to anti-dog walking collaborators Amy Meyer (People for the Parks/Presidio), Neal Desai (National Parks Conservation Association), and Becky Evans (Sierra Club Bay Area Chapter) on advocacy efforts targeting the National Park Service and Leader Nancy Pelosi.  Howard Levitt writes:
 

"CONFIDENTIAL Dear Amy ( and Neal and Becky, too): Thank you for getting some momentum going on this. Yes, letters addressed to Chris [GGNRA Superintendent Lehnertz] asking her to be firm on protecting park resources and allowing for those who don't want a dog experience would be very useful. Cc to Rep Pelosi would also be good, because she is the one we need to stay away from this issue.  ...Whenever you three feel up to it, I know Chris [GGNRA Superintendent Lehnertz] and I would like to meet to talk about a strategy to activate non-dog advocates to make their voices heard on the Draft Rule."


Using Private Email, Senior GGNRA Official Provides Briefing to Anti-Dog Walking Collaborators for a PBS NewsHour Segment

Sept. 2015: Howard Levitt of the GGNRA uses his personal email account to provide a confidential briefing to Amy Meyer (People for the Parks/Presidio), Neil Desai (National Parks Conservation Association), Becky Evans (Sierra Club Bay Area Chapter) and Cindy Margulis (Golden Gate Audubon) for the PBS NewsHour segment on the GGNRA dog plan.


Anti-Dog Walking Group Keeps GGNRA Superintendent Lehnertz in the Loop Regarding Lobbying a Marin County Supervisor

Oct. 2015:  Over private email, Amy Meyer (Parks for the People/Presidio) briefs GGNRA Superintendent Christine Lehnertz on her efforts to try to get Marin County Supervisor Kate Sears to support GGNRA's proposed dog walking restrictions.  


Using Personal Email, GGNRA Official Collaborates with External Anti-Dog Walking Group to Help Pad Administrative Record

Feb. 2016: Amy Meyer (People for the Parks/Presidio) emails GGNRA senior official and FOIA officer Howard Levitt a pro-restrictions on dog walking letter for the administrative record.  Howard Levitt says:

"This is a great letter. Yes, we have to find a way to get these letters into the record." 


Using Personal Email, GGNRA's Superintendent and Other Senior Official Work with External Groups Behind the Scenes to Combat Critical Oped by GGNRA Co-founder 

May 2014: Using personal email accounts, then GGNRA Superintendent Frank Dean and Director of Communications and Partnerships Howard Levitt work with Greg Moore (CEO, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy) and Amy Meyer (People for the Parks/Presidio) behind the scenes to draft letters to the editor responding to GGNRA co-founder Huey Johnson's oped, which is critical of the dog management plan.  


GGNRA FOIA Officer Asks Parks Conservancy CEO and GGNRA Superintendent to Use Personal Email Accounts

Sept. 2014:  GGNRA senior official and FOIA officer Howard Levitt asks Greg Moore (CEO, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy) for help identifying people who might be willing to write a rebuttal letters defending GGNRA's proposed dog walking restrictions.  Levitt provides suggested talking points for the letters and says to Moore and then GGNRA Superintendent Frank Dean: 

"Greg and Frank:   Please keep responses to this on personal email."

*Note: As GGNRA's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Officer, Howard Levitt was responsible for tracking, managing, and responding to FOIA requests directed to GGNRA for agency records.


GGNRA Senior Official and FOIA Officer Works with Parks Conservancy to "Keep Distance" from Letter to the Editor Surrogates

Sept. 2014:  GGNRA senior official and FOIA officer Howard Levitt uses personal email to hide communications with Greg Moore (CEO, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy) and Sharon Farrell (then Director of Park Projects, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy) regarding his seeking authors to draft rebuttal letters in support of the Park Service's proposed dog walking restrictions in GGNRA.   After receiving Moore's and Farrell's suggestions, Howard Levitt writes:

"Thanks, Sharon. All of these folks could be good authors of a letter to the editor on Fimrite's article. I have to keep my distance from this, for obvious reasons, so how would you suggest someone reach out to these folks, and who would [do] the reaching?"


GGNRA Dog Management Point Person Edits Anti-Dog Walking Group's Letter to House Minority Leader Pelosi 

Dec. 2013:  Using her personal email account, GGNRA dog management point person Shirwin Smith edits a letter from Amy Meyer (People for the Parks/Presidio) to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.  The letter disagrees with Leader Pelosi's request for a dog plan comment period extension and argues that GGNRA is a national park - not a recreation area.  Meyer thanks Smith for her edits and writes:

"I just got of the phone with Neal Desai [National Parks Conservation Association]. He feels these letters should be directed to the NPS with copies to Robert Edmonson [Leader Pelosi's Chief of Staff]. He feels it's better than seeming to ask Pelosi to take the letter back. It would be up to NPS then to forward them to the Pelosi office in support of whatever action Frank [GGNRA Superintendent Frank Dean] decides to take."


GGNRA Dog Management Point Person Provides Oped to Anti-Dog Walking Collaborators

May 2011:  From her personal email account, GGNRA dog management point person Shirwin Smith sends a San Francisco Chronicle oped supportive of dog walking restrictions to Amy Meyer (People for the Parks/Presidio), Neil Desai (National Parks Conservation Association), and Becky Evans (Sierra Club Bay Area Chapter).  


GGNRA's Dog Management Point Person and Anti-Dog Walking Group Collaborate Behind the Scenes

April 2011:  Amy Meyer (People for the Parks/Presidio) emails GGNRA dog management point person Shirwin Smith's personal email account with some thoughts on how to best comment on the dog management plan.  Smith borrows some of Meyer's points for GGNRA's talking points.