A congressional committee sent a letter to Hillary Clinton more than two years ago asking whether she used a private email account as secretary of state, but she ignored the inquiry, The New York Times is reporting.
California U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, then the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent letters on Dec. 13, 2012 to 18 top-ranking Obama administration officials, including Clinton, after it was revealed that the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal officials had used private email accounts and aliases to conduct government business.
“Have you or any senior agency official ever used a personal email account to conduct official business?” Issa wrote Clinton in the letter, according to The Times. “If so, please identify the account used.”
Issa also sought information on the State Department’s policies pertaining to how the agency force employees to comply with internal email policies.
“Does the agency require employees to certify on a periodic basis or at the end of their employment with the agency they have turned over any communications involving official business that they have sent or received using nonofficial accounts?” Issa asked in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Daily Caller.
Issa asked the letter’s recipients to respond by Jan. 7, 2013. Clinton did not respond and resigned from office on Feb. 1, 2013. An acting assistant secretary at the State Department responded to Issa nearly two months later, on March 27, but did not address questions about Clinton’s email activities.
Issa’s letter is the first documented congressional inquiry into Clinton’s email habits.
It was revealed in March 2013 that Clinton used a private email account while she was in office. But it was unknown until last month that she used that account — HDR22@clintonemail.com — to conduct both personal and official business. By doing so, Clinton avoided congressional oversight of her communications and shielded them from public records requests. Clinton has claimed that she turned over all official emails to the State Department in December but that after doing so she deleted her account and wiped clean the private server used to house it.
Issa’s inquiry into Clinton’s potentially shady email activities was not the only one to be ignored or outright denied by the State Department. The government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in Dec. 2012 seeking “records sufficient to show the number of email accounts of or associated with Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the extent to which those emails are identifiable as those of or associated with Secretary Clinton.” (RELATED: State Department Refusing To Answer How It Handled Open Records Requests For Hillary’s Emails)
As with Issa’s Oversight committee, the State Department did not provide CREW with any information related to Clinton’s private email account.
In his response to Issa, Thomas Gibbons, the acting assistant secretary of legislative affairs, addressed only the agency’s policies pertaining to employee email use. According to The Times, Gibbons wrote that “employees may use personal email on personal time for matters not directly related to official business, and any employee using personal email ‘should make it clear that his or her personal email is not being used for official business.'”
Clinton appears to have violated that policy.
Kurt Bardella, who served as a senior advisor to Issa when the letter was sent, said that Clinton’s refusal to respond to the letter and the timing of the State Department’s response raises numerous questions.
“The fact is in December of 2012, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was directly asked if she used a private e-mail account,” Bardella told TheDC.
“Why did the State Department wait until after Secretary Clinton left office to respond to the Issa letter? Were Secretary Clinton’s efforts to deliberately conceal her official activities through use of her private e-mail prompted by then-Chairman Issa’s request?” Bardella asked.
“As is status-quo with the Clinton’s, there are far more questions than answers and it’s likely that these revelations of her secrecy are just the tip of the ice-berg.”
This article has been updated.