Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa





Government Business on Private Email is Detrimental to Good Government

Mar 03, 2015

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today made the following comment on government officials’ possible use of private email accounts for government business.  

“In 2013, I began looking at federal agencies’ use of the Special Government Employee designation after news reports described the potentially questionable use of the designation for a top aide to Secretary Clinton.  Part of my inquiry asked for any correspondence between the State Department and a firm in news reports at the time called Teneo, with connections to former Clinton associates.  I asked for all records relating to communications between the State Department and Teneo and the State Department and any clients or entities represented by Teneo.  The State Department was slow to respond on all aspects of my letter and never provided any correspondence involving Teneo.  I was told that my status as a ranking member at the time was a barrier to a response.   When I became a chairman, I reiterated my interest in a response.  So far, the State Department has put me off.  The news reports today that Secretary Clinton never had a government email address underscores why my inquiry matters.   If top State Department officials are conducting government business on private email, the content might never see the light of day.  A measure of accountability and transparency is lost. The State Department should fulfill my request from June 2013.  

“Similarly, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network at the Treasury Department should respond completely to my inquiry on whistleblower allegations that top employees were communicating on unofficial electronic devices using alternate email addresses.

“I was critical of the current Labor secretary for using private email to conduct Justice Department business while he was at the Justice Department.  He ultimately faced a House committee subpoena over the emails.

“The trend of using private email for public business is detrimental to good government.  The public’s business ought to be public with few exceptions.”