A damning report from the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General about the agency’s improper handling of public records requests for information on Hillary Clinton’s email account has put David Brock, one of the former secretary of state’s most dogged supporters, in an awkward position.
Brock, a former foe of Bill and Hillary Clinton, has been the public face of the campaign to downplay the Clinton email scandal. He’s made numerous media appearances defending the Democratic presidential candidate, spinning her numerous inconsistent statements and portraying the whole affair as a throwback to the anti-Clinton attacks of the 1990s.
But the operative’s position is seemingly at odds with the one once held by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the watchdog group Brock has chaired since Aug. 2014.
As a recently as a few months before Clinton left office, CREW was interested in finding out whether she was using a secret email account. In Dec. 2012, CREW — then under the direction of Melanie Sloan — filed a Freedom of Information Act request for records showing how many email accounts Clinton operated as secretary of state. Though the organization has always leaned to the left — it was founded as a progressive antidote to the conservative watchdog, Judicial Watch — it often sought to uncover Democrats’ malfeasance, at least until Brock took over. (RELATED: State Department Gave ‘Inaccurate’ Response To Request For Clinton’s Emails)
In May 2013, the State Department denied CREW’s FOIA request on the grounds that it could find no responsive records. But that determination is perplexing, especially given that it’s now known that Clinton exclusively used her personal email account to conduct government business.
And as State’s IG found, Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, knew about CREW’s request. She was notified by the agency’s FOIA office and tasked a staffer to keep an eye on the matter. And though Mills knew about Clinton’s email account — the pair exchanged emails all the time — State still somehow denied CREW’s inquiry.
As Melanie Sloan, CREW’s former chief, told The Washington Post, Mills “should have corrected the record.”
“She knew this wasn’t a complete and full answer.”
In a report released on Thursday, Steve Linick, State’s inspector general, dinged the agency for its “inaccurate and incomplete” responses to FOIA requests.
CREW did not appeal the State Department’s May 2013 response. But that’s not surprising given that Clinton’s use of her personal email account for State Department business had not yet been reported. That news didn’t break until last March. CREW filed its request after it was revealed that Environmental Protection Agency official Lisa Jackson was emailing under the pseudonym “Richard Windsor.”
But the Brock-led CREW is unlikely to come down too hard on the State Department — or on Mills — given the close alliance with Clinton. Besides his public defense of Clinton, Brock runs the pro-Clinton super PAC Correct the Record and American Bridge, a pro-Democrat opposition research firm.
TheDC, which first reported on CREW’s FOIA request and rejection in March, pressed Brock and CREW on Thursday for a response to the IG report. Brock did not respond to a requests for comment sent through email and Twitter. A spokesman for CREW said he was not able to provide a response before deadline. (RELATED: State Department Refusing To Answer How It Responded To Records Requests For Hillary’s Emails)