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Top political appointees in Obama administration use secret email accounts

Labor Dept. asked AP to pay more than $1M in FOIA request

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  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    June 4, 2013 6:56 a.m.

    There should be no need for secret government email accounts.

    But, before Fox news turns this into a "bigger than Watergate" scandal you should look into the 2007 case of the Bush White house officials using secret email accounts.

    Not as justification, just as balance.

    In the words of Clinton.

    "It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did"

    And this happens almost daily in politics.

  • Hawkeye79 Iowa City, IA
    June 4, 2013 7:29 a.m.

    I came across this story on Yahoo this morning and then double-checked to make sure it was an official AP article. It sounded like something that might be made up, but sadly it wasn't. This is incredibly disappointing for an administration that claims to be focused on government transparency. Looks like they only wanted to give us an illusion of transparency.

    Time to add one more government scandal to the ever-growing list. I've lost count of how many there are at this point!

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    June 4, 2013 8:20 a.m.

    The most open and transparent administration - yep. Just a pack of liars.

    Joe,
    You can turn slick willy's words to "it takes some brass to complain about a closed administration and then run one even more closed yourself"

    But then we know to all you BO apologists, it's always bush's fault.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    June 4, 2013 8:42 a.m.

    Not an Obama apologist at all.

    And I never blamed Bush. But, stick with your talking point if you must.

    If the GOP would hold their own party to the same standards that they hold the Dems, I would be impressed.

    Same with the Dems.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    June 4, 2013 8:44 a.m.

    Anyone want to bet that all our Congresscritters have secret email accounts, too? Can you imagine the havoc we'd be able to cause if all of us had access to all the emails of Orrin Hatch or Mike Lee or Jason or Rob or any of the others?

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    June 4, 2013 8:50 a.m.

    Why shouldn't they have a secret email account? I do. I also have one that I give out to anyone wanting data, and it is clogged with garbage. Can you imagine what these guys get in a day? You'd never be able to sift through it all to be able to deal with what's important.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    June 4, 2013 9:05 a.m.

    Cybersecurity should be enforced at the highest levels. You cannot have a secret account that cannot be monitored and known about to have an effective government process. Also, all e-mails about officials business are to be available for any actions taken or known about.

    This is part of the GRAMA bill that the State of Utah tried to change a couple of years ago. Legislators are officials working for the State of Utah. This is an aspect where elected or appointed officials think they are above the law. They are the law makers and the decisions and entities they deal with impact or can impact on our lives as citizens of the State or Country.

    They may not like the fish bowl effect but when they signed up for the campaign and got elected and swore to keep an allegiance to the citizens and the Constitution of the State and nation and uphold the law, they agreed to be open and frank with the public.

    There really isn't a secret account as any account can be traced or tracked. The Administrators of that system know it exists. It is a selective access to law makers not really secret.

  • SAS Sandy, UT
    June 4, 2013 9:10 a.m.

    @one old man:
    Are you honestly saying Hatch knows how to use email? I'm guessing he has some staffer print it off for him.

  • DN Subscriber 2 SLC, UT
    June 4, 2013 9:16 a.m.

    They are breaking the law by using their secret accounts to conduct official business.

    Hiding actions which themselves are quite likely also illegal or unethical.

    If they want a secret account (on their own computer, not a government computer) to have an affair, or buy drugs, or view pron, that is an entirely different matter. That may be immoral, but not something we care about because it is not our business.

    The Obama administration is filled with corruptocrats used to flouting the law whenever it suits them.

    Prosecute them to the full extent of the law for using these secret email accounts to evade public scrutiny!

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    June 4, 2013 9:20 a.m.

    "The AP couldn't independently verify the practice. (?)

    The AP asked for the addresses following last year's disclosures that the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency had used separate email accounts at work. The practice is separate from officials who use personal, non-government email accounts for work, which generally is discouraged – but often happens anyway – due to laws requiring that most federal records be preserved.

    The AP asked for the addresses following last year's disclosures that the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency had used separate email accounts at work. The practice is separate from officials who use personal, non-government email accounts for work, which generally is discouraged – but often happens anyway – due to laws requiring that most federal records be preserved."

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    June 4, 2013 9:28 a.m.

    What is the story? Is it that secret email accounts exist? Is it that the government wanted to charge the AP more than $1,000,000 to release details? Is it that the owners of those secret accounts were trying to avoid getting "spam"?

    Most of us have more than one email account. I have several, each allocated for a specific purpose. Does having several accounts somehow make me a criminal, or does it mean that I don't want to miss important emails from specific people that might get mixed in with the "spam" that my main account gets - hundreds of emails offering incredible products to turn me into a real "superman".

    I have a very good friend who is using an email account on one of my servers. That email account has only been used for his posts with the Desert News. He gets more than 100 spam emails a day that go directly into his "trash". How did that happen? How would an account used only to post comments on the Deseret News invite "spam"?

    Investigate the demand for $1,000,000. Read the email on the "secret" accounts.

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    June 4, 2013 9:48 a.m.

    @lost

    "...open and apparent...".

    When the Republicans return to the Presidency, dissembling will return as well.

    "...You can turn slick willy's words to "it takes some brass to complain about a closed administration and then run one even more closed yourself...".

    President Clinton was the POTUS 12 years ago...

    Thank you for personally extending the thoughtful comments/civil dialogue timeline directed toward President Bush... at least until 2020.

    Thank you, as well, for your daily thoughtful comments which always encourage a civil dialogue.

  • Tators Hyrum, UT
    June 4, 2013 9:59 a.m.

    Obama's "most transparent administration ever" just keeps getting darker and darker. There is basically no transparency left. Almost every week brings more and more negative news concerning his administration. It would've been great if Obama's campaign promises and statements would've been genuine instead of just more political rhetoric, as they are now being proven to be. The first 4 years should've been a warning to everyone.

    Even his staunchest supporters, such as One Old Man (see 5th comment) can not justify such actions, so they sadly try such tactics as diverting attention with pure speculation about Republican congressmen or sometimes even sinking to the old blame-Bush game, which have absolutely nothing to do with this article. That in itself says a lot about the low levels the current administration is falling to. I sincerely hope things start getting better from this point on. America deserves better.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    June 4, 2013 10:03 a.m.

    It wouldn't be so bad if Obama had not promised transparency. His word is worth about as much as Bill Cinton's word--nothing. Once again I am so glad I don't have it weighing on my conscience that I was duped by this smooth talker into voting for him.

  • Badger55 Nibley, Ut
    June 4, 2013 10:41 a.m.

    jow blow,
    the problem is that Obama said on multiple occasions that Bush was being too secretive and that it was not fair to the American people. He also said the his admin would be one of transparency. If you are not going to be transparent, don't promise you will while saying someone else was not. Pure Hypocrisy. He deserves every bit of scrutiny and comparison he gets and he has no one to blame but himself.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    June 4, 2013 10:46 a.m.

    This is only the tip of the iceberg. If Department heads are doing this with a lame excuse, then agency heads, deputies, assistants, SES and others are doing it as they probably have more e-mail traffic than the Department Secretary or Cabinet members. Skirting around IT rules is not allowed. However, IT managers know how many accounts there are in a system. Employees at all levels are not to subvert the system or are to be locked out as it destroys the cybersecurity processes and accountability and tracking.

  • The.Canuck Tooele, UT
    June 4, 2013 11:58 a.m.

    Most transparent administration.... ever!

    Indeed! LOL

    Its turning into a daily joke now. All the scandals are coming out after the needed reelection votes are no longer needed.

    The Obama Whitehouse doesn't care about you Democrat supporters and your political beliefs. Don't you understand that yet? They are making a mockery of your votes by violating the constitution and all their campaign promises.

    Maybe some of the critiques of Obama were correct after all.

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    June 4, 2013 12:28 p.m.

    When Obama said that he would run the most transparent administration ever, I laughed. It reminded me of Nancy Pelose claiming to run the most ethical house ever or Clinton saying about the same thing.

    When the

  • Tom in CA Vallejo, CA
    June 4, 2013 1:18 p.m.

    " ...... Some of President Barack Obama's political appointees, including the secretary for Health and Human Services, are using secret government email accounts they say are necessary to prevent their inboxes from being overwhelmed with unwanted messages, ...... "

    The "most transparent administration" has an excuse for every shady thing they do. They are all paid liars.

    Oh, and did anyone notice that this morning while Fox was airing the live witness testimonies of targeted IRS groups, MSNBC was airing the live interview of a Seattle pothead. Go figure. The news blackout by MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, etc., is mind boggling.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 4, 2013 1:54 p.m.

    Hutterite,
    Why shouldn't they have a secret email account??? Because it's against the law!

    Ever heard of the "Freedom of Information Act"? It applies to Democrats too.

    They can have secret personal email accounts (like you) but they can't have secret work accounts for doing their public job (which are subject to freedom of information requests). We have a right to know what our government is doing. When thy hide that (with secret email accounts, etc, that don't get searched in freedom of information requests)... they are trying to circumvent the Freedom Of Information Act (which is law).

    When you work for the government they have the right to see your correspondence (just like your employer has the right to read your work emails).

    Surely you know this...

  • 1conservative WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    June 4, 2013 2:00 p.m.

    Fast and furious mess, Benghazi, the attorney general spying on the press, the IRS mess. Now this.

    Problem is; absolutely nothing will be done about it, except maybe promote a couple of the guilty ones. Holders' justice dept. will make sure of it.

    At some point, I would HOPE that Mr. Obama loses control of his Democratic party. They probably need to start distancing themselves from his administration if they ever hope to get re-elected.

  • Social Mod Fiscal Con West Jordan, UT
    June 4, 2013 2:12 p.m.

    To call these accounts "Secret" is really just a way of making the article more salacious.

    The correct title would be "Internal". And, as long as they are willing to release these addresses when a FOI request is made, I think it is not only appropriate, but just darn good sense. Can you imagine how hard it must be to do business at the level these people work, with just a "Public" email account. They would spend their entire day just filtering email.

    So, it sounds like some, perhaps even many are following the law in the way they use these accounts. The only real concern is the ones we don't know about, the ones that are not being provided with under a FOI request.

    Yes, it's true, I (a conservative) am supporting Obama's administration (at least in this one thing).

  • Vladhagen Salt Lake City, UT
    June 4, 2013 2:18 p.m.

    I think that perhaps the word "secret" is a bit of a negative swing. Not Publicly disclosed and secret are two entirely different things.

  • Viva la Migra American Fork, UT
    June 4, 2013 2:31 p.m.

    I could see a need to have a non-public government email for internal communication which might filter out Spam and filter out messages with less priority, as long as it also subject to FOIA requests. It seems that some of these officials are attempting to protect themselves from investigation/FOIA requests, which isn't right.

    So far, there is at least one documented instance of the former head of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, who setup a fake email address under the name of "Richard Windsor", used to communicate with outside groups and even complete EPA online training courses.

  • Uncle Rico Sandy, UT
    June 4, 2013 2:47 p.m.

    Does this really surprise any of us?

  • Wyominguy Buffalo, WY
    June 4, 2013 4:22 p.m.

    My Suggestion:
    Instead of spending 50 Million dollars to learn how to line dance maybe the Government should spend some on E Ethics and maybe the IG's should Enforce existing laws!

  • 4601 Salt Lake City, UT
    June 4, 2013 4:33 p.m.

    While the credibility of this administration is crumbling with corruption; IRS, DOJ, Benghazi, Fed. Elections Commission and the EPA, the apologists continue to blame Bush for Schulman's appointment to the IRS (He is a Democrat and his wife is a far left fund raiser.), stone walling, denial, "all politicians do it (very Chicagoan)," Republicans would do no better (maybe so) or just sweep it under the rug. The party in power is responsible, let our leaders recognize the problems, lead and get things fixed. Now the aura of corruption is pervasive. Somewhere, someplace, Richard NIxon is smiling.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    June 4, 2013 4:43 p.m.

    The EPA released a list of E-mail addresses used by the four people who served as Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency during the Bush administration. Each had a public address and a private one:

    Christine Todd Whitman
    Marianne Lamont Horinko
    Michael Leavitt (yes, former Gov. of UT and currently on the editorial board of DN)
    Stephen L. Johnson

    U.S. Senators and Representatives also typically have non-published e-mail addresses, though Congress exempted itself from Freedom of Information laws. It seems obvious that political figures of both parties would need an unlisted e-mail address that cannot be easily guessed for communications with advisers and colleagues — just as cabinet secretaries private cell phone numbers would not be publicly available, though their main office number would be.

  • sjames AMERICAN FORK, UT
    June 4, 2013 4:53 p.m.

    I see people wondering what the "problem" is and claiming that these officials have a "right" to private secret emails. This would be the case for their PERSONAL lives. But these secret emails were used to conduct GOVERNMENT BUSINESS meaning that we as a people are paying for those actions that they insist on hiding. If there were no reason to have them other than to "not receive certain messages" than why the delayed release, why the demand of 1,000,000+ to release them?

  • djk blue springs, MO
    June 4, 2013 4:58 p.m.

    yet this surprises the liberal supporters. they can look at our accounts with ease but yet we are not allowed to see theirs. same as the irs mess. they denied, delayed, destroyed. even if o did not say 'yes' to doing this he still has dirty hands as with this secret emails. the fish rots from the head first

  • Bob Pomeroy Bisbee, AZ
    June 4, 2013 5:26 p.m.

    Rex Lee vigorously taught us of the Executive need to confer privately, and why it should be protected. Of course Ford was President, but these 'secret' emails are not illegal. FOA did not change the law. Ever hear of a redaction? Thanks for your 2 bits though.

  • HaHaHaHa Othello, WA
    June 4, 2013 5:32 p.m.

    Do these guys and their press lackey's ever run out of excuses? Then we have the DN collection of obama apologist flunkies who make like gumby, and try to contort and stretch themselves into all kinds of positions to weakly claim that obama is better then Bush. After a while, even Nixon had the decency to step aside and admit wrong doing. Apparently obama is so full of himself, he will never be able to do that. Lower then nixon...that's low!

  • suzyk#1 Mount Pleasant, UT
    June 4, 2013 6:25 p.m.

    It's absolutely pathetic the way these appointees behave. They seem to believe they are an exception to the rule...but guess what? They are not...I hope the American people are truly watching and listening to what is going on in the Obama Administration because if they aren't they will join all the others who have been "duped". Our USA is suffering because of this type of class of people but hopefully next election we can get rid of as many as possible and start with a more honest and intelligent slate of people.

  • Gregg Weber SEATTLE, WA
    June 4, 2013 7:12 p.m.

    If secret accounts are to avoid spam or other legal ethical reasons than OK. But do you trust the Nixon Administration with secret accounts as much as the Obama Administration?
    Let a grand jury see everything and decide if something illegal is going on but make sure that that grand jury is composed of honest real americans and not biased.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    June 4, 2013 7:47 p.m.

    DN won't post my comment, despite numerous attempts.

    So, I'll try leaving specific names out.

    But basically the heads of the EPA under the Bush Administration had and used private e-mail accts.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    June 4, 2013 9:50 p.m.

    Even our legislators know about the FOIA and GRAMA parts that they tried to work around. It is for their protection and surety to have their official account. If AG Swallow had been using his official e-mail account for his "official" business he would have something to show an accounting for. Even the non-CPA State Auditor may figure that out.

  • m.g. scott clearfield, UT
    June 5, 2013 9:57 a.m.

    What, no June 5th comments on this story? Well here's one. When will Obama supporters admit that their guy is just another politician acting like any other politician. He no better, not special, and in no way, transforming. He is a Xerox copy of most every other President we've had since Roosevelt. Virtually every 2nd term President has scandle, and once again, we have it here. Surprise, surprise.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    June 5, 2013 9:03 p.m.

    In a speech (2009), Obama said their would be no secrets, and we would have a transparent administration. It would be the 'rule of law'.

    The commander is not held accountable for his words. Deficit cut in half, and I will not sign anything that would add a dime to the debt.

    We the people should not be lied to.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    June 5, 2013 11:00 p.m.

    I can hear Obama laughing.