Report: California Leaders Often Use Private Emails for Official Business

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The Hillary Clinton email scandal has shined a bright light on the use of private email accounts by elected officials and prompted a survey by the Associated Press into the use of said email accounts by California’s four legislative leaders and eight top elected officers.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla was reportedly the only official who did not respond to the AP’s questions about the use of private email for official matters.

The AP’s survey found that Gov. Jerry Brown and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom both acknowledged using their private email accounts to conduct government business. Brown said he uses his private email, through his iPhone, to conduct “informal communication.” Similarly, Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is running to fill Sen. Barbara Boxer’s soon-to-be-vacated U.S. Senate seat, had told the AP this month that she also uses her private email to communicate with staff; but rarely.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said he conducts most of his state business from a private email account and wrote to the AP that “As an elected official, I am legally obligated to use private email for all campaign-related communications and find it both practical and convenient to use the same email for most state issues.”

The four Assembly and Senate leaders reportedly did not respond directly about their use of private email to conduct legislative business, although John Casey, who is the deputy chief of staff for Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) issued the following statement to the AP: “The Assembly does not have a policy on non-state emails used for state purposes, as the focus has always been to make sure state resources are not being used for private purposes.”

The AP also notes that three of the leaders declined to provide their opinion as to whether private email exchanges should be made public, while Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olsen (R-Riverbank) suggested such questions should be considered in light of changes in technology.

“At a time when technology can quickly outpace law, policy and practice, government agencies have to work harder to catch up,” a statement from Treasurer John Chiang’s office to the AP read.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz


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