Sunday, June 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Clinton should be held accountable for secret email system

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrogantly flouted federal law by conducting the nation's business using a secret, personal email account and failing to routinely share those documents with government archivists. Creating her own communications system enabled her to conduct public business in private and left the State Department unable to fulfill public records requests from Congress, advocacy groups and the media. The explanations by Clinton's defenders are not credible, and a House committee's decision Wednesday to issue subpoenas to seek more emails is appropriate.

During four years as secretary of state, Clinton did not have a government email account and used a private email address. Exclusively using personal email for government business is not illegal, but it violated the Obama administration's policy to use government email accounts for public business. Even more unusual, the Associated Press reported Wednesday, is that a computer server that sent and received Clinton's emails was traced to an Internet service registered at the Clinton family home in New York. No wonder Clinton's aides did not preserve her email as required by the Federal Records Act. This lack of transparency appears carefully designed, not a bureaucratic oversight.

Clinton's reliance on personal email was discovered when a House committee investigating the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, requested correspondence between the former secretary and her staff. But there were earlier signs of trouble. The New York Times reports the State Department could not comply with public records requests for Clinton's correspondence as early as 2010, when the Associated Press submitted a query that was never answered.

Last month, Clinton turned over about 300 emails to the House committee, which planned Wednesday to issue subpoenas seeking more. About two months ago, she gave the State Department about 55,000 pages of emails, prompted by the agency's efforts to comply with federal records rules. It is unclear how many emails were in her private account, what they contained or how her staff determined which ones were germane for government archives.

A Clinton spokesman maintains the former secretary of state did nothing wrong and complied with the "letter and spirit of the rules." Her staff said she assumed her emails were being archived by other federal agencies with which she was communicating. Passing the buck is not a reasonable explanation, and that flimsy excuse does not address Clinton's communications with foreign officials or others outside the U.S. government.

Clinton's feeble explanations ring hollow, particularly for a Yale-trained lawyer preparing to run for president a second time. Florida's public records laws are more robust than the federal government's. But contrast Clinton's obfuscation with former Gov. Jeb Bush's approach. The likely Republican presidential candidate has created a website that makes it easier to search several hundred thousand emails sent from his personal account during his eight years as governor.

The Obama administration has been one of the least transparent in modern times, and Clinton's secrecy feeds that narrative. It reflects an astounding disregard for public records and open government, and it raises questions about the accuracy of the public record regarding Benghazi and other events during Clinton's tenure. The Republican-led House should take its investigation wherever it leads. Openness is a nonpartisan expectation, and public officials who brazenly ignore that responsibility should be held accountable — regardless of their political party, office or last name.

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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

It’s hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bay’s two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. That’s the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney general’s misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect — prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18