Real life: Former EPA chief's dodgy email alias received "scholar of ethical behavior" certification

Republicans are currently giving President Obama’s nominee to take over the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, quite the confirmation grilling — although I’m not sure why anyone could reasonably blame them, seeing as how she’s been an agency fixture for several years and her former boss Lisa Jackson left office amidst a probe into the use of a fictional email alias to conduct official EPA business and directly flout open-records laws.

As the result of the persistence of the Competitive Enterprise Institute in pursuing their Freedom of Information Act requests, we found out late last year that Jackson had been using an email account under the name of “Richard Windsor,” and that in practice it looked an awful lot like a deliberate attempt by Jackson to fly beneath the transparency radar when communicating about costly and publicly controversial EPA ideas and initiatives. Even better, it now looks like the EPA awarded the non-existent Richard Windsor with several of the oh-so-august bureaucracy’s required workplace certifications, via the Washington Times:

The new records show the Windsor account was awarded certificates showing he has “satisfactorily competed the online email records management training”; took the 2010 “No FEAR Act Training Module”; and a completed a “Cybersecurity awareness training” course in 2011, where he scored 83 percent.

Windsor was also awarded the “scholar of ethical behavior” each year from 2010 through 2012. The only training Ms. Jackson appears to have done under her own name was for cybersecurity awareness in 2010.

“At least her alter ego was up on the law and ethics of federal record-keeping,” said Christopher Horner, the researcher and senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute who made the open-records request that pushed EPA to release the certificates. …

Mr. Horner argues that the secondary email matters because it wasn’t clear that EPA was searching those records in response to open-records requests for Ms. Jackson’s emails. Mr. Horner said that EPA didn’t really begin to produce emails from the Richard Windsor account until after he exposed that address.

The “scholar of ethical behavior” award? Well, that is rich. EPA officials and Democrats are predictably maintaining that it isn’t unusual for administrators to have multiple email accounts to manage the volume of mail they receive, but why Jackson felt compelled to use an alias completely unrelated to her own name, and was then rather less than forthcoming with the business that was conducted through that cryptic email account, is less clear.

…Unless, perhaps, it had something to do with a deliberate maneuver to excuse a culture of obfuscation, due to the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency is one of the most actively overreaching and expensive federal agencies around in terms of the vast amount of ceaseless rulemaking it imposes to the tune of approximately $353 billion in economic costs per year. That old chestnut.