The war of the senatorial 47 percent signing a mutinous letter to Iran last week was accompanied by the war of the emails. First came the news that Hillary Clinton, while Secretary of State, used her private server for emails rather than the government server. By today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had called on Clinton to turn over her email server to a “neutral third party” for review. He also attacked her for not signing a “separation statement,” a recommendation for State Department staff to acknowledge that they have submitted all appropriate records to proper officials.
State Department spokesperson, Jen Psaki, stated that there was no record of Clinton signing such a statement and that she had not violated any rule by not doing so. Psaki added that there is no record of Clinton’s immediate predecessors signing the form.
It is expected that two House panels will provide “rigorous oversight”–the Select Committee on Benghazi, chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and the House Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). Gowdy has issued a subpoena for emails related to the 2012 attacks on a diplomatic outpost that killed four U.S. citizens and agreed to the March 27 deadline for the emails.
Oversight committees into Clinton’s email might want to take a good look at the email addresses for Gowdy and Jaffetz, two men who also deal with sensitive information. Chaffetz’s business card lists a Gmail address, and Gowdy uses his own domain, treygowdy.com. AlterNet asked Gowdy’s office how the representative separates work through his personal domain and through his congressional work as well as where his personal email server is stored. More than two days after both the office and Gowdy campaign manager George Ramsey were contacted, AlterNet received no response to the questions. David Brock of The Record also received no response to these questions.
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush isn’t the only GOP presidential wannabe to complain about Clinton’s email situation, but he may be the most vulnerable. Bush claimed:
“For security purposes, you need to be behind a firewall that recognizes the world for what it is, and it’s a dangerous world, and security would mean that you couldn’t have a private server. It’s a little baffling, to be honest with you, that didn’t come up in Secretary Clinton’s thought process.”
The media has largely ignored the fact that Bush used his private e-mail account as Florida governor to discuss security and military issues such as troop deployments to the Middle East and the protection of nuclear plants. Required to turn over records pertaining to official business “at the expiration of his or her term of office,” Bush waited more than seven years to meet these obligations. The search for a Clinton email “scandal” may eventually bring its similarity to Bush’s inactions to public notice because he did exactly what Clinton has done. Bush and his team examined the emails to determine the ones that should be released and the ones that should be kept private.
Perhaps they should have kept a few more emails private. Among the 275,000 e-mails Bush released, some of them showed a pattern of favors for donors. Although that doesn’t come as a shock in politics, the electronic trail doesn’t give a positive spin on Bush’s actions. An example is Bush emails is this one from GOP-donor William “Bill” Becker, Florida citrus grower: “Many thanks for an expedited and wonderful appointment.” People for the American Way, Every Voice, Public Citizen, Demos, the Brennan Center, and Common Cause jointly issued the statement:
“The emails reveal what most voters already know: Elected officials grant special favors and access to big donors that everyday voters can only dream about.”
As Jeb Bush started his meetings with major donors last December, the wealthy were telling him what they want in exchange for support and fundraising. These donors have a history from the 1999 meetings with George W. Bush with CEOs before his campaign was “officially” launched. At that time, a GOP lobbyist for Silicon Valley tech firms said that they were “educating” W. on the issues. Their “education” led to bundling millions of dollars for W., and the lobbyist became a liaison to the tech sector after Bush’s appointment to president in 2000.
States are fighting the same battle of the private emails:
- Although the most recent issue came up in Oregon, the state Supreme Court in California is reviewing a lower court’s ruling that public officials’ communications on private accounts are not subject to the state’s public records law.
- The Supreme Court ruled that the records on former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter are not public, prompting a dissenting opinion from two justices who said the court gave public officials a path to conceal public business “for the price of a monthly cellphone plan.”
- The emails of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin weren’t released for three years after the request. She used three different accounts and regularly communicated with top aides who also used their own personal accounts.
- Gov. Rick Scott of Florida has repeatedly fought with public record advocates, media organizations, and others over whether he has followed the state’s transparency law, one of the broadest in the country. Although denying that he used private accounts for state business, emails found after his re-election last November show that email exchanges with top aides and others included topics such as vetoes, the state budget, and his speeches. Florida law allows private email accounts but requires the emails be turned over if requested. Scott is currently being sued for flouting the law and ignoring public record requests.
- Another Florida politician, GOP Sen. Marco Rubio, deleted emails from his private account while serving in state government at the same time that he used this personal account for business related to his official duties.
- Kansas has a bill would require disclosure of official emails from private accounts in response to the budget director for GOP Gov. Sam Brownback using a private email account at least twice in December to circulate a summary of budget proposals being considered by the administration. Two lobbyists with ties to the governor were in the group receiving the emails, weeks before lawmakers saw details of the governor’s budget proposals.
- In New Mexico, GOP Gov. Susana Martinez has been sued by news organizations seeking access to her work and travel schedules, cellphone calls, and expenses of her security detail. A state district judge ruled last month that Martinez’s personal and political calendars are not public records because the documents were maintained by Martinez on her personal devices.
- While calling Clinton’s use of a private email address an “outrage,” Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker is in the midst of a controversy surrounding his use of a private email address.
- In New Jersey, GOP Gov. Chris Christie’s administration communicated through private emails and was chastised by lawyers hired by his team to investigate the lane closing at the George Washington Bridge.
- Both Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry conducted official business from their private email accounts and have not released the emails for public scrutiny.
The GOP attack on Clinton’s emails managed to draw attention from another important progressive position. She was at the UN to celebrate the effects of the 1995 U.N. Women’s Conference for the grassroots empowerment of women. The attack on Clinton at that specific event was a parallel to Fox network’s reporting on President Obama’s speech in Selma about the during struggle for voting rights: the entire conservative focus was how George W. Bush’s was supposedly cropped out of official White House photographs. Jeb Bush was governor of Florida during the voting debacle in a state that actually voted for W. Bush’s opponent but was given to W. by Republican judges.
The controversy about Hillary Clinton’s emails is not irrelevant. Neither is the massive hypocrisy that has emerged from the criticism. The Bush/Cheney White House lost millions of important emails, Mitt Romney spend a great deal of time to hide his public emails during his most recent presidential campaign, and previous Secretaries of State send emails that the public will most likely never see. A “fair and balanced” media would highlight those issues with the same fervor that it has with the Clinton emails.