Hillary Clinton’s Westchester-Based Email Address Raises Legal Concerns
The former Secretary of State is in hot water for using an email address registered to her Chappaqua home's internet service instead of an official government account.
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You may have heard the rumor that using certain email domains like Hotmail, AOL, or Yahoo! on your resumé could hurt your chances of being called in for an interview. But can using a certain type of email address actually be illegal? For most of us, the answer is no. But most of us aren’t former First Lady, New York Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who’s facing criticism over the type of email account she used during her time in the Obama Administration’s cabinet.
The New York Times reported this week that instead of using an official, government-issued email account, Clinton chose to use a private one. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that this email address traced back to her home in Chappaqua. In fact, Clinton never used an official government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department, just the Westchester-based one.
This means Clinton could have used discretion over how her official communications were preserved and archived—something that’s required by law under the Federal Records Act. Although using a private email is not illegal in and of itself, If Clinton did not keep records inline with what the act requires, or purposely purged any records, it's possible she violated the law. A private email address could also affect Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests; since Clinton’s emails were not stored on a government server, the government would, according to the AP report, “have to negotiate with Clinton to turn over messages” if a FOIA request was made.
Republicans and conservative media personalities were quick to level charges of lawlessness against Clinton, postulating she could have opted to use the private email account to her political advantage.
South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, who's in charge of the House of Representative’s investigation into the deadly 2012 Benghazi embassy attacks—an event Republicans have attempted to tie to Clinton—called Clinton’s actions “nothing short of incredible,” as The Hill reported earlier in the week.
“You do not need a law degree to understand how troubling this is,” Gowdy said.
Clinton, of course, has weathered numerous political controversies in the past—most notably repeated efforts to uncover alleged wrongdoing regarding her handling of the Benghazi attacks—and it remains unclear how this latest set of accusations will affect her public image. Although Clinton hasn’t made any official plans to run for president, recent polls show her performing favorably against top Republican rivals.