Paul Greenberg

Talk about the ideal public servant, just glance at Richard Windsor's résumé at the Environmental Protection Agency. For three consecutive years, the EPA named him "scholar of ethical behavior," and he's got a diploma as scholasticus decentia to prove it.

That's scarcely Mr. Windsor's only achievement. In the war against terrorism, he was certified in cyber-security awareness and recognized for launching an initiative that encourages federal employees to report any suspicious activity to the proper authorities. Not to mention his being certified in email-records management, too.

Who says bureaucrats are just there to twiddle their thumbs while waiting to collect their pensions? This accomplished guardian of the public interest with all these awards under his belt breaks that unfair stereotype.

If he sounds too good to be true, maybe that's because he is. Richard Windsor has only one failing: He doesn't exist.

It was revealed not long ago that he's just an email alias for Lisa Jackson, who resigned abruptly as head of the EPA to accept a nice job with Apple (vice president for environmental initiatives) back in May. Which was just before her false identity as Richard Windsor became public knowledge.

Till then, Mr. Windsor served as a useful way for Lisa Jackson to communicate with leaders of environmental pressure groups and her fellow movers-and-shakers in the Obama administration without the inconvenience of having her emails subjected to freedom-of-information requests.

What a neat arrangement. No wonder Mr. Windsor, among his other distinctions, is certified in email-records management.

The EPA says not to worry. Adopting such aliases for emails is "standard practice" among government agencies. It didn't specify just which other agencies have adopted the practice. Pity. Because they, too, deserve to have some congressional committee looking into their deceptions.

But it may take a while before Congress gets around to examining the curious case of Lisa Jackson/Richard Windsor. That little scam may have to wait its turn in a long line, there are so many major scandals in this administration waiting to be investigated.

What prompts someone to adopt a phony name? A desire to cloak less than respectable behavior? Just the human desire to see how much we can get away with? Or loyalty to a higher cause than the public interest, like The Environment, which has become our current Deity?

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.