The White House said Wednesday it had mishandled Republican Party-sponsored e-mail accounts used by nearly two dozen presidential aides, resulting in the loss of an undetermined number of e-mails concerning official White House business.
He said staffers used their RNC accounts instead of White House accounts to discuss the prosecutor issue or conduct other official business for several reasons, including extra caution about complying with the Hatch Act as well as the convenience of using one account instead of several. Stanzel said he could not speak to whether anyone was intentionally trying to avoid White House archiving because he had not spoken to all those involved.
Stanzel said some e-mails have been lost because the White House lacked clear policies on complying with Presidential Records Act requirements.
Before 2004, for instance, e-mails to and from the accounts were typically automatically deleted every 30 days along with all other RNC e-mails. Even though that was changed in 2004, so that the White House staffers with those accounts were excluded from the RNC’s automatic deletion policy, some of their e-mails were lost anyway when individual aides deleted their own files, Stanzel said.
The separate e-mail accounts also have become an issue in the case of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was convicted on bribery charges and is in prison for fraud.
Abramoff had several exchanges with Susan Ralston, then a Rove assistant, via nongovernment e-mail addresses with domain names like rnchq.org and georgewbush.com, to discuss issues in the Interior Department affecting the lobbyist’s Indian clients.
Sometimes you have to give people the benefit of the doubt. But I think this administration is well beyond that point.