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Watchdog: EPA grants ethics, cyber-security certificates to fake employee 'Richard Windsor'

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Environmental Protection Agency officials granted at least six ethics and cyber-security certifications to "Richard Windsor," the fake employee invented for former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson's use for conducting official business.

In a response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed in April by Christopher C. Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, EPA's Eric Wachter said in a May 31 letter that "as you will recall from many of your previous requests, Administrator Jackson's secondary email account was Windsor.richard@epa.gov, and she completed the EPA-hosted computer-based training while using that particular account."

Wachter offered no explanation for Jackson's decision to enroll in the ethics and cyber-security courses under the fake name rather than her own. The courses are offered through EPA's Information Technology department and are required for many top agency officials.

Among the certificates awarded to "Richard Windsor" was a Nov. 2, 2009 "Certificate of Completion" for "E-mail Records Management." Jackson had only been appointed by President Obama as EPA's top executive a few months prior to the certification.

Official policies "Richard Windsor" likely would have been informed of during the e-mail course was EPA's bar against using fake email names while conducting official business.

During the ensuing years, however, EPA IT department officials awarded additional certificates to "Richard Windsor," including three for completion of the agency's "Scholastica Decentia," the Certificate for Ethical Behavior, in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

"Richard Windsor" was a top student of ethical behavior in 2010, compiling 100 percent scores for the "Risk" and "Cyber Threats" portions of the course, but a 50 percent score on the "EPA Information" portion dropped Windsor's total score to 83 percent.

Jackson's use of the fake name became known in 2012 with Horner's book, The Liberal War Against Transparency, in which he made public a memo from EPA to the National Records Archives Administration describing the agency's creation of the "Richard Windsor" moniker.

Horner also revealed that Carol Browning, who was EPA administrator under President Clinton and served as Obama's environmental policy czar in the White House, had made extensive use of private email accounts while doing government business.

Federal law requires agency officials to keep all official emails that may be covered by FOIA requests. Federal employees are also required to provide copies of private emails used for official business to agency FOIA officials.

Use of a fake name like "Richard Windsor" could provide a federal executive with an official email account for conducting government business that would be unknown to outsides and thus inaccessible for FOIA purposes.

Jackson resigned as EPA administrator in December 2012 shortly after her agency's inspector-general announced an investigation of the "Richard Windsor" scandal.

Mark Tapscott is executive editor of The Washington Examiner. He can be reached at mtapscott@washingtonexaminer.com.

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