Maybe along with fundamentally transforming America, Barack Obama also fundamentally transformed the English language. He rode into power promising “transparency,” but has delivered a busload of unaccountable policy czars and, it turns out, a widespread use of secret email accounts atop several government agencies.
Some of President Barack Obama’s political appointees, including the Cabinet secretary for the Health and Human Services Department, are using secret government email accounts they say are necessary to prevent their inboxes from being overwhelmed with unwanted messages, according to a review by The Associated Press.
The scope of using the secret accounts across government remains a mystery: Most U.S. agencies have failed to turn over lists of political appointees’ email addresses, which the AP sought under the Freedom of Information Act more than three months ago. The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay more than $1 million for its email addresses.
The AP asked for the addresses following last year’s disclosures that the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency had used separate email accounts at work. The practice is separate from officials who use personal, non-government email accounts for work, which generally is discouraged – but often happens anyway – due to laws requiring that most federal records be preserved.
The EPA scandal itself took a weird turn Monday. “Richard Windsor,” former EPA head Lisa Jackson’s nom de email, took online courses and won employee awards — for ethics. He was the EPA’s scandal version of MASH’s Dr. Tuttle.
The EPA awarded certificates naming Jackson/Windsor a “scholar of ethical behavior.” Jackson, under her secret alias, was also awarded certificates for completing training modules on email records management.
Jackson set up a secret email address under the pseudonym “Richard Windsor.” The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Chris Horner first discovered it in November.
Republicans and government watchdog groups say Jackson may have skirted federal record laws by using the alias, but the EPA claims the secret email address was a common practice—and a necessary one, given the millions of emails that flooded Jackson’s public inbox every year.
Horner, a senior fellow at the conservative think tank, obtained the certificates via a Freedom of Information Act request.
“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.”
“Windsor” even conducted two-way conversations with people outside the EPA, and dodged phone calls when those people thought he was a real person. So Jackson was lying to who knows how many people. The agency has not explained how a non-existent employee could be certified to have taken mandatory courses. Lisa Jackson stepped down amid her scandal in January 2013, but certainly landed on her feet: Apple hired her last week. Do ethics matter at Apple?
The AP’s reporting indicates that the Obama government may be full of alias emails and that there may be even more “Richard Windsors” out there. Government agencies may also be using Jackson’s trick of deploying the fake personnas and email accounts to coordinate with leftist special interest groups outside government, and away from public scrutiny.