A nonprofit government watchdog filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Archivist David Ferriero Wednesday for former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s work-related emails.
Powell hasn’t turn over his emails to either the Department of State or the National Archives and Records Administration, so Cause of Action (CoA) Institute’s complaint seeks to compel both agencies to retrieve them. (RELATED: A Dozen Sensitive Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell Emails Found)
“CoA Institute is entitled to bring an action to compel defendants to initiate action through the Attorney General for recovery of Secretary Powell’s email records,” the complaint said.
“The law requires that all work-related emails sent or received using former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s personal email account be properly archived and available to the public through FOIA,” Cause of Action Institute Vice President John Vecchione said in a statement announcing filing of the complaint.
“The State Department has failed to take appropriate actions to secure those federal records. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Archivist are legally obligated to secure the records so that future generations can understand how important decisions were made during politically contentious years,” Vecchione said.
Powell used a private email address for his work-related emails, like his successor – now-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton – though he used an AOL account, rather than a personal server. (EXCLUSIVE: Colin Powell’s Personal Email Hacked, Under Pressure To Endorse Hillary Clinton)
The State Department sent two letters to Powell’s representative requesting cooperation in retrieving the emails, Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy testified under oath before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in September.
Powell, however, hasn’t provided his emails, and, “has not contacted his internet service or email provider to retrieve or recover those records,” the complaint said.
National Archives officials consequently ordered the State Department in a July 2015 letter to ask Powell’s internet or email provider if retrieving the emails is still possible.
Instead, State Department officials passed the responsibility to Powell’s representative, according to the complaint.
“Under Secretary Kennedy testified that the State Department did not directly contact Secretary Powell’s internet service or email provider, as requested by NARA, because he did not believe the agency had the legal authority to do so,” the complaint said.
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