White House E-mail Destruction Bigger Than Estimated
June 19, 2007 (LPAC)--The use of Republican National Committee (RNC) e-mail accounts within the White House was much larger than previously known, as was the destruction of potentially hundreds of thousands of such e-mails, in possible violation of the Presidential Records Act. These are some of the conclusions of an investigation by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).
According to an interim report issued yesterday, the committee has evidence that RNC accounts were used to conduct official Executive Branch business, and that there was extensive destruction of such e-mails by the RNC. Under the Presidential Records Act, all such records must be maintained and preserved. Further, says the report, there is evidence that then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales knew that White House officials were using RNC e-mail accounts for official business, and that he took no action to preserve these official Presidential records.
The use of RNC e-mail accounts within the White House is supposed to be limited to partisan political activity, since the use of government facilities for such activities would be a violation of the Hatch Act. However, investigators and other observers believe that Karl Rove and other White House officials used their RNC e-mail accounts to carry out activities which they hoped to hide from scrutiny, such as their role in using blatantly partisan criteria for the hiring and firing of federal prosecutors.
The report notes that the White House had at first said that only a "handful" of officials had RNC accounts, then later said that it might have been 50. In fact, the report says that at least 88 White House officials had RNC e-mail accounts.
Of the 88 officials, e-mail records were not preserved for 51 -- well more than half of the White House users. Even though many of Karl Rove's were destroyed, those preserved by the RNC amount to a staggering 140,216 e-mails just for Rove alone! Over half of these were to or from official ".gov" e-mail accounts -- indicating large-scale and potentially-illegal use of official accounts for RNC business, or that Rove was using RNC accounts to hide his political interference in government activities.