Friday, September 21, 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: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

In addition to a lesson on political patronage, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam needs a refresher on the particulars of state public records law.In January 2017, Putnam hired the 27-year-old son of a former Publix executive to a high-pay...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

There should be a timely investigation of the allegation of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh before senators hear from him and his accuser, let alone vote on whether they should confirm his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The proces...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

The heated debate on immigration could benefit from some more facts, which the U.S. Census has helpfully provided. And the facts show that rather than building walls, the United States would do far better to keep opening doors to legal immigrants. Th...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/19/18

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18
Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Florence began lashing down on the Carolinas Thursday and was expected to make landfall early Friday, washing over dunes, downing trees and power lines and putting some 10 million people in the path of a potentially catastrophic storm. Flor...
Published: 09/13/18
Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Gov. Rick Scott has headed down a dangerous path by announcing he has started the process to fill three upcoming vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court as he heads out the door. But to his credit, the governor indicated his "expectation’’ is that he ...
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/14/18