05
Apr

Photo: Zach Gibson, The New York Times

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 5, 2016

Contact: Daniel Stevens, dstevens@campaignforaccountability.org, 202.780.5750

WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA) called on the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Inspector General to investigate Secretary Ashton Carter for the misuse of his private email account.

Read the letter here.

“Secretary Carter’s continued misuse of his private email account indicates a flagrant disregard for following rules,”  CfA Executive Director Anne Weismann stated.  “The public has a right to access the government’s communications, and federal laws and DoD policies, which Secretary Carter knowingly violated, are designed to capture that information.”

In December 2015, The New York Times reported that during his first few months in office, Secretary Carter used his personal email account to conduct official business concerning “a variety of work-related matters.” He continued this practice “for at least two months” after the public learned of the exclusive use of a personal email account by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to conduct government business.

Recently disclosed emails reveal that despite the public uproar over Secretary Clinton’s email use, and DoD’s prohibition on using personal email accounts to conduct government business, Secretary Carter continued to use his personal email account for work-related business for many months.  The Washington Post reported Secretary Carter did not discontinue his use of a personal email account until December 2015, when news of this use first broke.

Secretary Carter’s knowing and continued use of his personal email account to conduct agency business violates DoD’s express ban on such use and raises the possibility that sensitive information was compromised. It also appears to conflict with his responsibilities under the Federal Records Act.

Furthermore, Secretary Carter’s continued use of his personal email account suggests he may have been trying to avoid his responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The FOIA is a mandatory disclosure statute intended to give the public a means by which to learn what its government is up to through access to agency records, upon request.  Emails sent from Secretary Carter’s personal account may not have been captured by DoD’s recordkeeping system, in violation of the statute.

“Secretary Carter, as the top official at the Pentagon, has access to some of the most sensitive information in the government,” Ms. Weismann continued.  “By using his personal email, he could have put government secrets at risk.  The Inspector General should immediately open an investigation into whether Secretary Carter violated any federal laws or DoD policies.”

CfA is nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.

Read the full letter below: