EPA Agents Visit Man For Sending Email

The following is NOT a work of fiction. It did take place. It took place in the most liberty rich country in the history of the world. It didn’t happen in one of the old Soviet Eastern Bloc nations. It didn’t happen in Cuba or Venezuela. It didn’t happen in Iran. It happened here, in the United States of America.

Let me first begin by telling you about a man that I have come to know over the last week. Larry Keller is just a normal guy. He’s an average, hard working American trying to live his life the best way that he knows how. He operates a consulting business out of his home in Asheville, North Carolina. He cares about his country and he believes, like most of us here, that Americans have the right to question those in government that we may disagree with.

Over a month ago, when the EPA’s Al Armendariz “crucify” comments reached a boiling point, Keller began to inquire as to how he could contact Mr. Armendariz.  Larry didn’t agree with his statements about the oil and gas industries and felt compelled to contact him by email. Like I said before, we all believe that we have that right.

Keller tried Googling Armendariz’s name to find his contact information, he ended up on a website that led him to contact, by email, a man by the name of Dr. David Gray who is the Director of External Affairs for the EPA. Larry Keller, average American, wrote a one sentence email to Dr. Gray which stated simply:

“Hello Mr. Gray-Do you have Mr. Armendariz’s contact information so we can say hello?”

That’s it. That’s all he said. He never heard back from Dr. Gray and I assume he went about his average life like anyone else would.

Then a little over a week after the Armendariz comments became public knowledge, on May 2nd to be exact, Larry Keller was visited by two individuals along with a uniformed Asheville Police Officer. The following is what transpired:

On Wednesday, May 02, 2012 at about 1:45PM two Special Agents from the EPA and an armed police officer who stood 6’6” tall visited our house in Asheville, NC. Their visit was a total surprise as we had not received any communications requesting an appointment. The agents presented very official looking badges and asked if we could sit and chat awhile. We moved to the back porch and took our seats with the exception of the armed officer who stood by the door to the house the entire time.

Special Agent Michael Woods, who acted as the leader, then asked if I ran a business out of our house and if, what kind of business. What does that have to do with the EPA I thought. I answered yes – I own and run a consulting business focused on data visualization and analysis. After explaining my business to them, he then asked if I had ever sent any emails to anyone in the EPA. I answered no initially and then recalled that I had tried to reach Dr. Al Armendariz, the then EPA Regional Administrator who had made comments about crucifying big oil companies last week. Further, using Google, I had searched for his contact information and landed on his domain which was a subset of Southern Methodist University. There Dr. Armendariz tells visitors to email Dr. David Gray, Director of External Affairs for the EPA. I sent an email to Dr. Gray and stated the following:

“Hello Mr. Gray-Do you have Mr. Armendariz’s contact information so we can say hello?”

At this point Agent Woods reach into a file and from it he pulled out a copy of my email to Dr. Gray. He handed it to me and I asked what was there about the content that justified their driving across the state of NC to visit me with no prior warning. The other agent then stated that my choice of words in the email could be interpreted in many ways. At that point I asked them to be specific as they were wasting my time. I stated that I pay for agents’ salaries and that of the police officer and they have bigger fish to fry. Special Agent Woods then asked if I had ever been arrested – the answer was a swift no. I then asked for a copy of the email they presented and they said that was impossible as the investigation was not yet complete.

Keller then asked the agents for their business cards (which they promised him when they first arrived), he was told they didn’t have cards with them and they abruptly left his home via the back staircase. Keller noticed that they had blocked his driveway and the local police officer had parked in his neighbor’s driveway where another officer was waiting in the car.

Keep in mind, the armed EPA agents drove four hours from Raleigh for that.

Keller was interviewed by local radio host Pete Kaliner on May 11th about the incident. You can listen to his interview here. I reached out to Kaliner and Larry Keller on May 24th when I first heard the story. I posted about it at my blog and was fortunate enough to be linked multiple times, trying my best to get the story out as it didn’t appear that the media was, or is for that matter, interested in our bloated government overreaching and infringing upon average citizens rights.

As of today, Larry has kept me in the loop about his communications with EPA, The Office of the Inspector General, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), and of course the local Asheville Police Department. The Carolina Journal, which is affiliated with The John Locke Foundation, finally wrote about the incident which Larry forwarded on to me this afternoon.

According to Larry, Richard Burr’s office is investigating and promises to take the investigation to the “nth degree” to get answers.

To this point, no one has been able to sufficiently answer Mr. Keller’s questions. The main one being, what exactly prompted a visit by two armed government agents? And the other being, is the “case” against him closed? Is he still under “investigation” by the EPA?

Post this to Facebook, Tweet it, email it, let people know what type of harassment they could receive simply by engaging their government officials. Is this really the kind of country we want our children growing up in?

More updates will be forthcoming when I get them from Mr. Keller.


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