Sunday, March 8, 2015

Hillary Clinton's Private Email Use Not Sole Case Among 2016 Hopefuls

Here's a closer look at how some of the potential 2016 candidates have handled access issues:


The former Florida governor, a Republican, made a splash recently by releasing thousands of emails from his two terms, a move that was required under Florida law. Bush also used a private email account, although not exclusively, and he acknowledged that while in office. Like the former first lady, Bush owned the server. And, just as with Clinton, there are questions over the methods he and his associates used to decide which emails to disclose.



New Jersey law exempts from disclosure agency records that are considered "advisory, consultative or deliberative material," an exception that exists in some form for most governors.

Christie, the current Republican governor, follows an executive order, issued by a Democratic predecessor, that emphasizes the privilege for the chief executive: "All portions of records, including electronic communications, that contain advisory, consultative or deliberative information or other records (are) protected by a recognized privilege."

The Christie administration has applied that exception widely, prompting several ongoing lawsuits. An example: The administration cited security concerns as a reason to deny requests for expense records for his travel outside New Jersey.

Ed Barocas, legal director of the ACLU of New Jersey, said the broader exemptions are important to allow government workers to give advice but also said it is used as a way to shield information from the public. Barocas said courts have held that government emails purely involving facts should be made public.



The Republican governor, who campaigned on a platform of providing more transparency in government, uses a private email account to communicate with immediate staff. Those conversations are exempt from public disclosure under a sweeping public records exemption granted to the governor's office under state law.

In 2012, top Jindal aides and some cabinet agency officials used private emails to craft a public relations strategy for imposing $523 million in Medicaid cuts, but the communications did not turn up in an Associated Press records request. Instead, an administration official revealed them anonymously.

It's not clear whether the documents would have been public, anyway. The Jindal administration has often interpreted the governor's "deliberative process" exception to extend beyond his inner circle to all documents generated by any agency for Jindal's office.

Louisiana also has no archiving requirement at all for the governor, making it an outlier nationally. That means records now sealed under that executive privilege may never become public, even after Jindal leaves office.



In 2013, amid the then-Texas governor's feud over leadership at the University of Texas system, a Democratic lawmaker's request of university records turned up emails Perry sent from a previously unknown account identified as "R P." In one exchange, the governor used the account to blast as "charlatans and peacocks" critics of his appointees to the university system's governing board.

The Texas attorney general has determined that emails from private accounts are public if they concern state business.

The Perry administration, meanwhile, scrubbed the state email servers every seven days. Perry's successor, Greg Abbott, took office in January and has since widened that frequency to every 30 days.



Kukowsi, the spokeswoman for Wisconsin's Republican governor, touted the state's "strong open records laws" and her boss's "very specific policies in place in his office" to ensure compliance.

But Walker previously ran Milwaukee County as chief executive using a private email system, which Walker and aides used to discuss government business, campaign fundraising and politics. Two of the aides were eventually convicted for campaigning on government time as part of an investigation that resulted in disclosure of thousands of emails generated on the initially secret system.

Walker's gubernatorial aides say no such system exists in his current office.

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