Amid the press furor over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opting to use private email, and not a government email address, some are now raising important questions about if those who are investigating her – such as the chairmen of congressional committees who deal with sensitive information during the course of investigations – are themselves using private email.
Take, for example, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who succeeded Rep .Darrell Issa (R-CA) to be head of the House's Government Oversight committee. Chaffetz's business card lists a Gmail address, as shown here by ABC News:
But Chaffetz may not be alone in doing official business with private email. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who heads the House's Select Committee on Benghazi, is leading the charge in calling for investigations of Clinton's email.
Yet it's important to note that Gowdy maintains his own domain treygowdy.com. For example, one campaign contact email he used was firstname.lastname@example.org. While it's not unusual to maintain such a thing particularly for campaign work, it's not clear that Gowdy utilizes this email solely for political campaign work and not congressional tasks. AlterNet asked Gowdy's office through both a telephone inquiry followed up by an email communication to his press secretary about how he segregates work he conducts through his personal domain vs congressional work. We also inquired about where his personal email server is stored and how it is secured. We also attempted to contact Gowdy campaign manager George Ramsey, but he did not return our phone calls. In 48 hours, the deadline we set, we received no response.
We weren't the only ones this week to ask Gowdy about his personal email address and fail to receive a response. Correct The Record's David Brock sent an open letter with the same inquiry:
Dear Chairman Gowdy:
I noted with interest your public demand that Secretary Clinton turn over her personal email server, presumably so that the committee can access some 30,000 Clinton emails deemed to be strictly private and beyond the reach of the government.
This Orwellian demand has no basis in law or precedent. Every government employee decides for themselves what email is work-related and what is strictly private. There is no reason to hold Secretary Clinton to a different standard— except partisan politics.
But since you insist that Clinton’s private email be accessed, I’m writing today to ask you and your staff to abide by the same standard you seek to hold the Secretary to by releasing your own work-related and private email and that of your staff to the public.
While I realize that Congress regularly exempts itself from laws that apply to the executive branch, I believe this action is necessary to ensure public confidence in the fairness and impartiality of your investigation.
Thank you for your consideration.
Correct The Record
It's true that there are legitimate issues with Clinton failing to segregate work and personal email. But it's troubling that Members of Congress handling sensitive investigations into national security matters such as the Benghazi incident don't appear to be willing to be transparent about their own email practices.