In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) introduced this bill to simultaneously protect sensitive communications by cabinet-level secretaries and preserve records that might be needed in subsequent investigations:
nation’s electronic communications and records are under constant
cyber-attack by terrorist organizations and more frequently by foreign
governments. This legislation ensures no Department Secretary may use a
private server for emails and storage of electronic data... The use of private email servers may
inhibit the preservation of all records and electronic communications
which may be needed for Congressional, civil or criminal investigations.”
A provision similar to this legislation was included in the omnibus appropriations bill, though it only prohibited funding for private email accounts or servers within the State Department.
On several occasions since the early 2000s, senior cabinet-level
officials have used private email accounts or servers to conduct
official business. While serving as Secretary of State, Madeleine
Albright, Colin Powell, and Condoleeza Rice didn’t rely on government
email accounts — though Albright and Rice rarely emailed, while Powell
used the government system for secure emails.
More recently, former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson and former health
and human services secretary Kathleen Sebellius used either private or
secondary government email accounts to conduct official business.
During her term as Secretary of State, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used a private email server
to store some of her official government emails. Several Freedom of Information
Act requests and subpoenas related to Benghazi led to the discovery that months of emails were missing from the private server.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) expanded its inquiry into the matter from assessing how classified materials
were handled, to investigating whether national security secrets had
been jeopardized and by whom. Specifically, the FBI is looking into
whether Clinton staffers were directed to copy classified information from a secure system to be sent over a non-secure network to then-Secretary’s account. Clinton has claimed that she did not send or receive classified emails through that server, and when questioned about the use of her private email server in a town hall on CNN, she maintained that:
not willing to say it was an error in judgment because what — nothing
that I did was wrong. It was not — it was not in any way prohibited.”
Media:Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user quinn anya)