Health Secretary Sebelius named in report over ‘recent’ secret government emails
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, as well as a former director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal officials, were found to be using secret government email accounts in a review published by the Associated Press on Tuesday.
But as Think Progress reported, what the AP failed to mention is that the practice dates back to the George W. Bush administration, and that the emails in questions are also subject to public records searches.
According to the AP, Sebelius’ department turned over email addresses for about 240 political appointees working there, but only produced hers after an objection. The AP subsequently published her secret account.
Kel McClanahan, executive director of the transparency advocacy group National Security Counselors, told the AP that the secret accounts pose a problem after the person in charge of them leaves their position.
“Who’s going to know to search the other accounts?” McClanahan said to the AP. “You would hope that agencies doing this would keep a list of aliases in a desk drawer, but you know that isn’t happening.”
The AP reported that it could not “verify the practice” of separate email accounts. However, Think Progress said that the EPA turned over both the public and private email addresses for all four administrators who served during the Bush administration through a Freedom of Information Act request. Think Progress also reported that members of Congress also maintain separate emails for private correspondence, though those are not covered by FOIA laws.
The AP reported that 10 federal agencies, including the EPA, had not answered an FOIA request for their non-public email accounts. The other departments that have not complied include Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Housing, Justice, Transportation, Treasury and Veteran Affairs.