The news that Hillary Clinton exclusively used her personal email account for official communications while she was Secretary of State puts in question the potential Democratic presidential nominee’s commitment to transparency.
Although Clinton is not the first person in that post to use their personal email for official communications, it stands out that she did not possess an official account with the security required for someone in her position. Clinton’s method made it harder to automatically collect her exchanges to create a historical archive as required by the Federal Records Act.
These actions contradict the White House’s statement that Obama’s is the “most transparent [administration] in history.” In June 2011, while Clinton was still Secretary of State, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that “all our work is conducted on work email accounts; that’s part of the Presidential Records Act.” Today, we know that was not true.
Clinton advocates insist that she did not break the law, that others have done it before, and that communications between Clinton and other administration officials are saved in the official accounts of the recipients of the messages. Also that, when it has been required to retrieve these messages — as was the case with the Benghazi hearings, — Clinton’s people were able to choose between thousands of related emails to submit to Congress.
It is wrong to believe that communications outside of the administration are not part of historical records. It also sounds inappropriate to say that knowledge of Clinton’s messages while in office should be limited to what she and her staff choose to reveal.
Moreover, the fact that she came to the point of having another server at home for her private email account reveals an unusual control over her communications.
This is a troubling situation for a presidential hopeful. Transparency is a virtue of democracy, and it should be expected from public officials. Hillary Clinton did not pass this test.