Richard Windsor may not be a real person, but he was one heck of a federal employee.
Let us explain.
Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson resigned last year amid a scandal involving her use a secret email address under the alias “Richard Windsor” to conduct agency business.
Some have expressed concern that she used the account to get around federal law. But the fake name and email address, an EPA official explained, is apparently a common practice because there’s so much email to be dealt with.
Okay, fine, let’s humor them on that point. Perhaps Jackson needed a second account with a fake name to help her deal with all those emails.
But thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request obtained by the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Chris Horner, we now have a clearer picture of just how mixed up Jackson’s two accounts were.
As you can see in the following .pdf, Jackson’s EPA awarded Windsor numerous awards, certificates, and even dubbed him a “scholar of ethical behavior” [note on page four where she – er – “he” scored only a 50 percent grade on “EPA’s information"]:
“I like my fake employees to be of the highest ethical standards and fully up to date on the law and ethics of federal recordkeeping,” Horner told the Washington Free Beacon. “At least someone there is.”
But it’s not what you think, according to EPA official Eric W. Wachter, director of the office of the secretariat. Those certificates belong to Jackson. She earned them. She just accidentally signed in as Windsor when she took the online tests.
“As you will recall from many of your previous requests, Administrator Jackson’s secondary email account was firstname.lastname@example.org, and she completed the EPA-hosted, computer-based training while using that particular account,” Wachter told Horner in a letter.
But even if that’s true, there’s still a big problem with the EPA handing out certificates of achievement to individuals who, you know, don’t exist.
“Windsor’s certificate showing that ‘he’ received training in how to manage e-mail records carries the signature stamp of John Ellis, the agency’s Records Officer, responsible for ensuring it preserves documents that accurately reflect its activities,” Eliana Johnson writes for National Review Online.
“Attesting to an employee’s training while knowing that the employee did not exist would be a serious infraction,” she adds. “Why Ellis would issue certification in Windsor’s name, if indeed he knew that Jackson and Ellis were the same person, remains a mystery.”
And the alternative to the agency cooking up fake certificates isn't any better. It would mean, as Horner notes, that the agency simply throws out certificates like “Mardi Gras beads.”
The EPA did not immediately respond to TheBlaze’s repeated requests for comment.
FINAL THOUGHT: The feds are required by law to keep a record of email exchanges made by administration officials. Those emails can be obtained by putting in a FOIA request. The idea is that a traceable record of activity will keep people honest and transparent.
However, as you have probably guessed by now, obtaining a record of emails written by non-existent persons that no one has ever heard of makes the entire process just a little bit harder.
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
Featured image screen grab. This post has been updated.