Caroline Kennedy, who has served as U.S. ambassador to Japan since Nov. 2013, used a private email account to send and receive sensitive emails, according to a new report from the State Department’s inspector general.
Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, was identified by title in the report, and not by name.
“In the course of its inspection, OIG received reports concerning embassy staff use of private email accounts to conduct official business,” the report reads. “On the basis of these reports, OIG’s Office of Evaluations and Special Projects conducted a review and confirmed that senior embassy staff, including the Ambassador, used personal email accounts to send and receive messages containing official business.”
Some of the emails were categorized as “sensitive but unclassified” according to the watchdog.
The finding comes as the State Department is embroiled in a scandal involving former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email account to conduct all of her official business.
According to the Associated Press, a State Department official who requested anonymity said that Kennedy only infrequently used a personal email account for official business. She typically uses her official state.gov account for work-related matters, according to the official.
Nevertheless, the State Department’s inspector general noted the risks involved in diplomats’ use of private email channels.
“OIG has previously reported on the risks associated with using commercial email for official Government business,” the report states. “Such risks include data loss, hacking, phishing, and spoofing of email accounts, as well as inadequate protections for personally identifiable information.”
“Department policy is that employees generally should not use private email accounts (for example, Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, and so forth) for official business. Employees are also expected to use approved, secure methods to transmit Sensitive but Unclassified information when available and practical.”
During a press conference on Tuesday, State Department spokesman John Kirby said that what Kennedy did “is not prohibited” but “is discouraged.”
“We recognize there are circumstances where there may be no other choice,” Kirby added.