After a scandal erupted over her use of personal email during her time as secretary of State, Hillary Clinton admitted that it wasn’t the smartest move. Now she can take comfort in the fact that whatever transparency-related mistakes she made, there’s a senior Obama administration official who did something even stupider. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter took office just as the Emailgate scandal was breaking, and he still thought it was a good idea to keep using his personal email to correspond with aides about work-related matters.
Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, the New York Times obtained emails from Carter’s first few months on the job that show him discussing topics like speeches, meetings, and news media appearances via personal email, though he had a government account. A Carter spokesperson said he complied with a recent law that requires government officials to forward work-related emails from their personal email to their government account within 20 days, but didn’t provide any proof. It appears White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough caught wind of Carter’s email faux pas in May and put a stop to it.
“After reviewing his email practices earlier this year, the secretary believes that his previous, occasional use of personal email for work-related business, even for routine administrative issues and backed up to his official account, was a mistake,” said his spokesperson. “As a result, he stopped such use of his personal email and further limited his use of email altogether.” No one is suggesting he shouldn’t use email at all, but fine.