The AP has unearthed a substantial amount of information pointing to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his former staffers using private e-mail accounts to conduct state business while he was the governor of Massachusetts. Though not against the law, Romney not using his government e-mail at times isn’t exactly an image of transparency and open government.
All government officials and employees are issued e-mail addresses the same way civilians are issued e-mail addresses by their employers. These e-mails are supposed to be used for work purposes. I shudder to think at what my bank and the numerous government agencies that regulate it would have done if I had started sending and receiving e-mails related to firm assets from my Gmail account.
Also, says the AP, Romney approved a “a sweeping purge of executive emails from the state government's computer servers” near the end of his term. He also approved “the removal of top aides' hard drives and computers” citing privacy concerns.
In e-mails posted by the AP, Romney is seen worried about coming off as worrying about looking like he cares more about national politics than local issues on the eve of his 2008 presidential run. He discussed over $400 million in budget cuts that he wanted made in these e-mails as well.
Romney did use his government e-mail, but not for anything more than mass e-mails and non-sensitive issues, says the AP. It is not known exactly how often he used his personal e-mail address, but it looks like it was used more often than the Hotmail account in question. This account is not required to comply with the Freedom of Information Act, so we may never know what those emails said.
Governors have had to deal with issues surrounding their use of private e-mails for state business in the past. In 2008, Sarah Palin had to hand over hundreds of Yahoo e-mails when she became the Republican vice presidential candidate. Even using a blackberry for his government e-mail account was an issue for President Obama when entered office.
Romney is not the first politician to use his personal e-mail for government business; he will not be the last. Having almost all those emails deleted looks bad, malfeasant even. If he was worried about privacy, as he said, he should have used government e-mail to conduct all his business.