Judicial Watch is suing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for emails former Secretary Jeh Johnson and three other top agency officials sent or received from personal email accounts, the nonprofit government watchdog group announced Friday.
The lawsuit was filed after DHS produced no records in response to a Dec. 29, 2015, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the emails. A federal court hearing is scheduled for Monday, May 1.
“The agency claims the emails are essentially inaccessible and it is too troublesome to recover them,” Judicial Watch said in a statement. (RELATED: Former DHS Sec Used Unsecure Email To Share Sensitive Information With Foreign Officials)
“Judicial Watch previously obtained and made public 215 pages of documents containing official emails sent through the private, unsecured email accounts of Johnson, former DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, former Chief of Staff Christian Marrone, and former General Counsel Steven Bunnell,” the statement continued.
The emails discussed “high-level meetings” planned between the Kuwaiti ambassador and Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry officials, “as well as a West African $4.5 million online consumer fraud scam using Johnson’s name,” the statement said.
A federal judge previously required DHS to preserve the records Judicial Watch sought after the watchdog argued that there was “no assurance” the officials would retain their emails since the messages may have been sent without agency authorization.
“Judicial Watch previously uncovered documents revealing that Secretary Jeh Johnson and 28 other agency officials used government computers to access personal web-based email accounts despite an agency-wide ban due to heightened security concerns,” the statement said.
The documents also showed that DHS officials misled Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Scott Perry when he asked if personal accounts were used for government business, according to Judicial Watch.
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