The latest Obama administration scandal involving Hillary Clinton’s emails has many Americans discussing private email accounts used by government officials, and clarification is in order.
It’s appropriate and proper for a politician to use private email for
personal and campaign business.
This is what I did as governor of
Alaska in order to be in compliance with the law, which requires that
personal or campaign business not be conducted using public resources
such as a government email account. There is a firm line separating the
However, that’s not what we see with this Clinton email scandal. As
Secretary of State under Obama, Hillary Clinton used private email
accounts on a privately maintained server 100 percent of the time for
100 percent government business. That’s unethical, no doubt illegal, and
flies in the face of all claims of transparency. Hillary Clinton and
her staff weren’t trying to be in compliance with the law; they were
skirting it altogether.
Consider, for example, how Secretary Clinton’s private email server
makes a mockery of transparency when it comes to Freedom of Information
Act (FOIA) requests.
First, some background: I know something about how annoying FOIA
requests can be for public officials. After I returned home from the
2008 vice presidential campaign, the state of Alaska was flooded with
innumerable FOIA requests to see literally every single email I ever
wrote while governor. It was an overwhelming request for a small
population state with limited resources. But our system of government
relies on transparency, and that means public officials must suck it up
and let the public see whatever they want.
When FOIA requests bombarded us, investigators and our attorney general’s office were given full access to all of my state and
private emails. The only emails redacted were the very few that were
protected by attorney/client privilege – a determination agreed upon by
my lawyers and the Attorney General’s office who reviewed them. In other
words, an independent third party reviewed every email. There was no
chance for any “smoking gun” to escape detection because nothing was
kept secret in any way. Everything was done in the most transparent way
Contrast that with the way Secretary Clinton has handled
transparency. She created private email accounts for herself and her
staff on a private email server that she controls completely.
She hasn’t handed over the server to any independent party for
review, and it’s already too late to do so because for all we know
someone might have already deleted any trace of incriminating emails to
and from Secretary Clinton and her aides. This is the opposite of open
and transparent government and obviously doesn’t follow the rules.
An honest politician has nothing to fear from the public seeing her
emails. I know this. Eventually all but those few redacted emails of
mine were released to the public and remain online to this day for
anyone to read at any time.
In fact, the release of my emails was a great boon for Alaska’s
tourism industry because dozens of national reporters descended on
Alaska to pour through tens of thousands of pages of my emails looking
for some smoking gun. They even crowd-sourced the work out to the
general public to help them look for dirt! They were sorely
All they found was evidence of an administration doing what the
people sent us to do – work hard for them. My favorite summary of the
email findings came from CNN’s Drew Griffin who reported: “I think what
we’re seeing here is a hard-working governor, working hard for the state
of Alaska, a lot of discussion about policy, about taxes, about cutting
budgets, a lot of just mundane state government work.”
So, at least the media and the public learned a lot about
conservative governance, responsible resource development, fiscal
budgeting, Fish & Game management, and other scintillating topics.
But don’t take my word for it. Search the online databases of my
emails created by the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street
Journal, and other national media sources... and be bored.
Now many of these same media outfits are pursuing access to Secretary
Clinton’s emails. Will they put the same effort into her emails as they
did mine? (continues)