Disclaimer: No offense was intended to the babies in this video.
Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record.
Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.
It was only two months ago, in response to a new State Department effort to comply with federal record-keeping practices, that Mrs. Clinton’s advisers reviewed tens of thousands of pages of her personal emails and decided which ones to turn over to the State Department. All told, 55,000 pages of emails were given to the department.Mrs. Clinton stepped down from the secretary’s post in early 2013.
Her expansive use of the private account was alarming to current and former National Archives and Records Administration officials and government watchdogs, who called it a serious breach.
“It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario – short of nuclear winter – where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level-head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business,” said Jason R. Baron, a lawyer at Drinker Biddle and Reath who is a former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration.
A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, Nick Merrill, defended her use of the personal email account and said she has been complying with the “letter and spirit of the rules.”
Under federal law, however, letters and emails written and received by federal officials, such as the secretary of state, are considered government records and are supposed to be retained so that congressional committees, historians and members of the news media can find them. There are exceptions to the law for certain classified and sensitive materials.
Mrs. Clinton is not the first government official – or first secretary of state – to use a personal email account on which to conduct official business.
But her exclusive use of her private email, for all of her work, appears unusual, Mr. Baron said. The use of private email accounts is supposed to be limited to emergencies, experts said, such as when an agency’s computer server is not working.
“I can recall no instance in my time at the National Archives when a high-ranking official at an executive branch agency solely used a personal email account for the transaction of government business,” said Mr. Baron, who worked at the agency from 2000 to 2013.
Regulations from the National Archives and Records Administration at the time required any emails sent or received from personal accounts be preserved as part of the agency’s records.
But Mrs. Clinton and her aides failed to do so.
The Obama administration’s Department of Justice shut down an attempt to force the Internal Revenue Service to search for Lois Lerner’s missing emails at off-site storage facilities.
The IRS never looked for Lerner’s backup email tapes at the West Virginia storage facility where they were being housed. Treasury deputy inspector general Timothy Camus told Congress that the IRS never asked IT professionals at the New Martinsville, W.V. storage site for the backup tapes. Camus only found the backup tape for Lerner’s missing 2011 emails about two weeks ago.
But the Obama administration knew that emails were stored at off-site facilities, and even shut down a legal request to send somebody to go look for them.
“We said in court that there are off-site servers where all IRS emails are stored,” lawyer Cleta Mitchell told The Daily Caller. Mitchell represents the voter-ID group True the Vote in its lawsuit against the IRS over improper targeting. Shortly after it was revealed last summer that the IRS was missing Lerner’s emails, Mitchell petitioned U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton for an independent forensic examiner to be appointed to investigate the missing emails.
Mitchell referred to the IRS’ off-site storage facilities in West Virginia and Pittsburgh in court in July. But DOJ lawyers representing the IRS and the Treasury inspector general argued that Mitchell could not even discuss the existence of the storage facilities in her capacity as a lawyer.
“The Department of Justice lawyers objected to that and said I shouldn’t even be allowed to mention these off-site servers without sworn affidavits,” Mitchell told TheDC. “They meant that I was trying to testify to the judge without bringing in witnesses with sworn affidavits.”
Mitchell’s motion to get an independent forensic examiner was denied. The IRS’ internal investigation never headed to West Virginia, and the Treasury inspector general’s investigation managed to find a pertinent tape in West Virginia a mere two weeks before last Thursday’s House Oversight hearing. One of the IRS employees tasked with finding data on Lerner’s crashed hard drive was legally blind.
Mitchell’s statement about the off-site servers was clear as day, according to court transcripts obtained by TheDC.
“I’m advised that the IRS maintains servers that are in different states in different locations and that IRS employees are advised that their emails are never lost,” Mitchell said in court, according to the transcripts.
“That’s what I’ve been told as far as my emails here,” the Court replied.
“And I have had individuals who worked with, for the IRS from all across the country who have communicated that to me,” Mitchell continued. “And they say – I hear from government employees, retired and active, who say what is being said is not possible. It is not plausible and it is contrary to what we are told as employees of the IRS.”
Mitchell requested “the opportunity to at least have some expert look at whether the perimeters of the investigation are complete and… will fully cover all of the potential ways or places in which this investigation should look or take into consideration.”
But the email tapes sat there in West Virginia, alone and unexamined.
DOJ did not return a request for comment for this report.
As TheDC reported, the IRS fired its email-storage contractor Sonasoft just weeks after Lerner’s email-deleting computer crash.
Government employees have been caught stealing students’ personal information to apply for loans, credit cards and set up new cell phone accounts,Daily Mail Online has learned.
Reports on breaches of staff conduct inside the Department of Education shows how workers stole social security numbers from a database while a man was fired for trying to look up President Barack Obama’s student loan records.
Cyber security campaigners warned that the failure to protect sensitive information because of ‘bureaucratic incompetence’ is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.
Insiders involved in illicit breaches are often overlooked, simply because the public think hackers and cybercriminals are more often to blame, they said.
Lee Tien, senior staff attorney and Adams Chair for Internet Rights at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Daily Mail Online ‘insiders are frequently part of the breach story’.
He added that entities – especially the government – need to uphold their duty to safeguard other people’s personal information.
Berin Szoka, the president of Tech Freedom, insisted some of the privacy issues come from within the government.
‘As usual, the real privacy problem is government. Big Brother surveillance at the NSA is bad enough,’ he told the Daily Mail Online.
‘But bureaucratic incompetence can be far bigger problem. Failing to protect sensitive student loan data is just the tip of the iceberg of poor data security inside government.’
According to the documents – obtained by the Daily Mail Online through a Freedom of Information Act request – a number of government employees set up an illicit scheme to steal students’ information.
One woman created a bogus Department of Education account to access the National Student Loan Data System to aid her criminal plot.
While accessing the records, she would extract information from individual accounts.
She swapped around the last four digits of her SSN with those of another during the scheme, and set up the fake identity to apply for credit cards, personal loans and set up a Sprint cell phone account.
An internal investigation within the department found she went into the database 24 times between 2006 and 2009 to retrieve the information.
Just 24 hours after searching through the database on one occasion in 2009, the documents revealed she applied for a personal loan.
The unidentified employee was arrested and charged in 2011 for stealing more than $500 using the stolen details.
One of the documents related to her case reads: ‘It appears [the employee] did not have a business reason to run either name in the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).’
After pleading guilty, she was sentenced to 18 months in jail with a 17-month suspended sentence. However, according to the documents, the employee only served a month in prison and was then given authorized work by a judge.
It’s not known what happened to the other staff members involved in the scheme.
In 2011, a man violated department protocols by trying to access ‘Barrack [sic] Obama’s student loans records. According to the documents he consistently spelled the president’s name wrong – using two ‘r’s.
The employee involved was not prosecuted, but lost his job after departmental staff also discovered he had misused his government-issued travel card.
It is not clear why he tried to access the records as Obama has made the majority of his financial history public knowledge.
He paid off his student loans in in 2004 while he was in the Illinois State Senate. He took out $42,753 in loans to pay for his Harvard Law School tuition while Michelle applied for $40,762 in loans for her Harvard Law education.
The couple carried their debt for 25 years, but the president is believed to have paid it off using $1.9million worth of royalties from his book, Dreams of My Father. It was reissued and became a best seller after his speech at the Democratic convention in 2004.
A third Department of Education employee was investigated in 2014 for using his government email to promote his own business at the taxpayers’ expense. Some of the documents involved have been heavily redacted.
The analysis revealed there were approximately 166 calls totaling 616 minutes or approximately 10 hours of calls during on-duty hours. His calls cost the government approximately $478.36 based on his hourly salary.
He admitted that he shouldn’t have used government equipment – including a scanner, printer, phone and email – for his own personal gain, but it’s not clear what type of business he was operating or whether he was punished.
Another part of the document trove described the investigation into Joseph Butler, a veteran department employee from Clarkstown, Georgia, who accessed child pornography for years.
According to reports he was able to filter his computer activity and get around filtering software preventing government staff from visiting illicit websites.
More than 70 disturbing images were founded embedded in several Microsoft Word documents that were then saved to his government computer.
His Internet browsing history also revealed he had searched for child nudity and pornography.
Butler used his computer to download images onto CD-ROMs, which federal agents found during a search of his home in July 2011. Agents also found graphic stories Butler had written about children.
He is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence. When he is released he will have to sign up to the sex offenders register and completed five years of supervision.
The Department of Education did not comment on the revelations.
However a report in 2015 addressing ‘management challenges’ highlighted ‘repeated problems in IT security and noted increasing threats and vulnerabilities to the Department’s systems and data.’
The document said more steps needed to be taken to make sure federal employees did not breach the database.
One of the factors considered was a two-step authorization process – but it is yet to be implemented.
In September 2013 the Office of the Inspector General – who oversee the Department’s management – warned officials there were weaknesses led to ‘unauthorized accesses to private information.’
A couple of weekends ago, when my entire family was down with illness and rain was pouring outside, the Internet was our best friend. What better to do while sick in bed than catch up on all of my Facebook friends’ lives, find new ebooks to download from Amazon.com, catch up on a backlog of movies over Netflix, and tweet until my fingers were tired? And I don’t just mean myself – the whole family was doing all of that, and more. Watching YouTube videos, posting YouTube videos. Between coughs and sneezes.
Here’s what’s remarkable: According to the FCC our Internet connection, which facilitated all of that activity flawlessly, without a glitch, no longer counts as broadband.
There is literally nothing we want to do on the Internet that our connection can’t handle. And we have a teenager, for a clincher. We’re reasonably early adopters of just about every Internet connected device and service. But our Internet connection no longer meets the FCC’s definition of broadband.
Our connection speed was squarely within the definition of broadband until just a couple of weeks ago, when the FCC retracted previous policy standards and redefined broadband.
How does that make sense? Why would the FCC set a standard that so obviously isn’t true? How does a supposedly “expert agency” get something so wrong?
For political reasons. You see, all the FCC has to do is redefine broadband at a higher speed, and now they can argue that America’s broadband networks are insufficient and thus require greater FCC intervention.
And it’s part of a pattern. This is not the first time that the Obama-era FCC has radically departed from previous established FCC policy. Previously the FCC found that the wireless market is highly competitive. But as soon as an Obama-appointed FCC Chairman took office, the FCC decided that the wireless market was in fact not competitive, and previous FCCs all just got it wrong somehow.
The sad fact is that the FCC, purported to be an expert technical agency, has been thoroughly politicized – it’s now simply a political extension of the Obama administration and thus has been indentured into the administration’s regulatory power grab over the Internet.
Detailed reporting by the Wall Street Journal has revealed that the entire time the FCC was working to craft a more reasonable net neutrality compromise, the White House was engaged in a “secret,” parallel, closed process to craft a different policy that “stunned officials at the FCC.” The White House process was closed to some stakeholders and influenced by conversations with President Obama at a fundraiser. Those meeting with the White House were not required to register as lobbyists and were told to “not discuss the process openly.”
The White House effort “essentially killed the compromise proposed by Mr. Wheeler” and “swept aside more than a decade of light touch regulation of the Internet and months of work by Mr. Wheeler toward a compromise.”
So much for an “independent agency.”
In our constitutional republic, the proper place for public policy to be made is by the elected representatives of the people, through legislation. Congress has stepped up and Senator Thune has introduced legislation that would settle the net neutrality debate once and for all. Congress should be given time to act, but the President and Senate Democrats have made it clear that the Thune legislation is not acceptable: What they wanted all along was heavy federal regulation, not net neutrality. The gig is up.
Because the FCC has forsaken its mandate to be both expert and independent, Congress now has every reason to gut the FCC and radically downsize its regulatory scope and authority.
The FCC could be completely eliminated, and its few key functions distributed among other relevant agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Frankly, many of the FCC’s functions already overlap with the FTC, NTIA, and the Justice Department. In light of the FCC’s grotesque abrogation of its mandate to be expert and independent, a creative Congress could easily eliminate or dramatically scale back the FCC’s power.
Such a reform of the FCC is in fact long overdue, and Chairman Wheeler has set in motion the mechanism of its execution. By sacrificing his agency to President Obama’s radical progressive agenda to put the federal government in regulatory control of communications media, Chairman Wheeler should in fact be the last Chairman of the FCC as we know it.
Senator Harry Reid, D-Nev., illegally used Senate resources for his campaign, according to a conservative watchdog group.
The report by the group states that Reid illegally met with his caucus in order to promote his re-election campaign, which would be a violation of Senate ethics rules.
The complaint was filed by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a conservative watchdog group founded by former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker.
According to Whitaker:
“The only reported topic [of the meeting] was to announce, ‘I’m running,’” Whitaker wrote in the complaint. “Even Politico admitted the meeting – attended by more than fifty Senate staffers – was ‘unusual.’”
Whitaker alleges that the meeting could even violate federal law.
The meeting took place in the Capitol building’s Mansfield Room.
A story in Politico alleges that Reid kicked off the meeting by saying that he planned on running for reelection next year.
The complaint states that Reid “reportedly announced his reelection campaign from the confines of an official Senate meeting room located mere steps from the Senate floor.”
The complaint further reads:
“Federal law prohibits the use of official funds for any use other than that for which they were appropriated,” the complaint says. “The Congress has not appropriated money for the day-to-day operation of the Senate for campaign use.”
According to Senate ethics rules, senators cannot use official resources “to assist campaign organization.” Also, Senate rules prohibit “campaign activity in federal buildings.”
Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Reid, stated when asked to respond to the complaint: “do you mean a story taking it seriously?”