Some Texas politicians keep mum on personal email for business

KPRC 2 asked politicians if they use personal email for government business

By Jace Larson - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - Some Texas lawmakers declined to tell KPRC 2 Investigates whether they have used personal email accounts to conduct state business, according to a poll of lawmakers.

Texas' U.S. senators, Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, did not respond to messages from KPRC 2 asking whether they used personal email addresses for government business.

Former Gov. Rick Perry's office declined to say what email account he used.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's office said he has personal and state email addresses, but a spokesperson didn't say for what purpose he uses them.

Attorney General Ken Paxton's spokesman said he uses his personal account for state business, "in a fashion consistent with state law."

Gov. Greg Abbott's office wouldn't say for what purpose he has used personal email, but spokeswoman Amelia Chasse noted that as attorney general, he made sure that government business, whether done on personal or government email accounts be released under the Open Records Act.

Of the group surveyed, only Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush's spokeswoman Brittany Eck said that he does not use personal email accounts for state business.

Hillary Clinton's admission that she used a personal email server to send and receive email while she was secretary of state has created recent controversy.

Clinton pledged at a news conference Tuesday that all her work-related email would be made public, but acknowledged that she deleted thousands of messages related to personal matters. Clinton said the server "will remain private."

The chairman of a House committee investigating the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, wants a neutral third party, such as a retired judge, to review Clinton's email server to determine which of her emails should be made public.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the State Department's internal watchdog has found that many department employees are not preserving emails for the public record, as required by the government.

That could mean that a substantial amount of government information is being lost to history, The AP says.

The inspector general said in a report released on Wednesday that in 2011, when Clinton was secretary of state, department employees wrote more than 1 billion emails but marked only 61,156 for the public record. There's no way to know from the figures how many should have been designated as public records, The AP reported.

The report said many employees don't know the rules for what emails should be recorded for history, or fear the consequences of having their recorded emails searched and exposed. Some thought the rules were merely for their convenience.

Statements

"The Lt. Governor has a state and a personal email address. He uses both in accordance with applicable laws." – Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick spokesman Keith Elkins

"Governor Abbott has taken the lead on ensuring that public officials' email correspondence be completely transparent if it is used to conduct official government business. As Texas' Attorney General, he issued open records letter rulings finding that all state business – whether conducted via public or private email – is subject to the Public Information Act. Governor Abbott's leadership on this issue resulted in a law passed last session codifying his rulings and making all government-related email correspondence of public officials subject to the Public Information Act. Governor Abbott's practice - as Attorney General and as Governor - is to ensure that all information that falls under the Public Information Act is disclosed regardless of how that information was communicated or received." -- Gov. Greg Abbott spokeswoman Amelia Chasse

"The Governor's Office complied with state law regarding email correspondence. While serving as governor of Texas, Gov. Perry's emails were requested and released through public information requests." –  Former Gov. Rick Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed

"Yes, the general has used his personal account for state business, in a fashion consistent with state law. Attorney General Paxton prefers to conduct business face-to-face. He has both official and personal email accounts and follows state law and agency policies guiding their use." – Attorney General Ken Paxton spokeswoman Cynthia Meyer

"He has a public GLO email address that is monitored by staff for communications with the general public and an additional state email used for conducting the business of the state. He does have personal email, which he uses for non-state business purposes." -- Land Commissioner George P. Bush spokeswoman Brittany Eck

If you have a tip for investigative reporter Jace Larson, email him at jlarson@kprc.com or text him at 832-493-3951.

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