Watchdog Groups Call On State Department To Force Clinton To Turn Over Her Emails

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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A bipartisan coalition of government transparency advocates is asking that the State Department to ensure that all of Hillary Clinton’s emails pertaining to official government business are turned over to the agency.

A dozen watchdog groups sent a letter on Tuesday to Sec. of State John Kerry and National Archivist David Ferreiro asking them to “verify that Secretary Clinton’s emails containing federal records are transferred to the Department of State in their original electronic form, so that all such emails may be accessible pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.”

The letter comes during Sunshine Week, an annual event in which advocates for open government push for greater transparency.

“The task of determining which emails constitute federal records should not be left solely to Mrs. Clinton’s personal aides,” the coalition’s letter reads.

“Rather, the Archivist and State Department should oversee the process to ensure its independence and objectivity. To the extent that it is ascertained that any record emails were deleted, they should be retrieved if technically possible.”

Though Clinton left office in Feb. 2013, she only recently turned over more than 30,000 emails to the State Department she claims are related to her official government business. She has also stated that her aides were responsible for sifting through the trove of records and determining which were related to official business and which were personal. Clinton said last week that she deleted more than 30,000 personal emails. It is still unclear how exactly Clinton’s aides determined which emails were personal and which were official.

By using private email on the private server, Clinton engaged in “a potential violation of the Federal Records Act” which “may have been an intentional attempt to circumvent public oversight,” the coalition stated.

“Regardless of intent, the exclusive use of a private server made it impossible for the State Department to search Secretary Clinton’s email correspondence in response to Freedom of Information Act requests.”

The letter points to numerous FOIA requests seeking records pertaining to Clinton’s email records. The Associated Press, Gawker, and Judicial Watch were named in the letter as having outstanding FOIA requests for such documents. All recently filed suit.

The coalition also cited a FOIA request filed in Dec. 2012 by the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which sought all records “sufficient to show the number of email accounts of or associated with [Clinton].” (RELATED: State Department Refusing To Say How It Handled Public Records Requests For Hillary’s Emails)

The Daily Caller first reported on that pending request. CREW, which is now controlled by David Brock, a rabid Clinton supporter, told TheDC that it never received a final letter from State. A staffer at the agency’s FOIA office said that the request was closed in May 2013, though she did not provide any information on what response was provided.

The letter’s signatories come from across the political spectrum and include Cause of Action, Defending Dissent Foundation, Electronic Frontier Foundation, MuckRock, National Coalition for History, National Security Archive, National Security Counselors, OpenTheGovernment.org, Pirate Times, Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Society of Professional Journalists and The Sunlight Foundation.

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