Crouching RNC, Hidden Mailserver

2 comments April 9th, 2007at 08:39pm Posted by Eli

I hope the Democrats can make headway on this:

When Karl Rove and his top deputies arrived at the White House in 2001, the Republican National Committee provided them with laptop computers and other communication devices to be used alongside their government-issued equipment.

The back-channel e-mail and paging system, paid for and maintained by the RNC, was designed to avoid charges that had vexed the Clinton White House – that federal resources were being used inappropriately for political campaign purposes.

(…)

Democrats say evidence suggests the RNC e-mail system was used for political and government policy matters in violation of federal record preservation and disclosure rules.

In addition, Democrats point to a handful of e-mails obtained through ongoing inquiries suggesting the system may have been used to conceal such activities as contacts with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was convicted on bribery charges and is now in prison for fraud.

The prospect that such communication might become public has further jangled the nerves of an already rattled Bush White House.

Some Republicans believe that the huge number of e-mails – many written hastily, with no thought that they might become public – may contain more detailed and unguarded inside information about the administration’s far-flung political activities than has previously been available.

Ah, the flip side of believing that you’re untouchable.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, last week formally requested access to broad categories of RNC-White House e-mails.

Waxman told the Los Angeles Times in a statement that a separate “e-mail system for high-ranking White House officials would raise serious questions about violations of the Presidential Records Act,” which requires the preservation and ultimate disclosure of e-mails about official government business.

(…)

Some Republican activists say the e-mail request will not create great difficulty for the White House because nothing nefarious happened [ha!] and because the RNC automatically purges some e-mails after 30 days.

“Some”? Define “some.” 30 days seems awfully brief, and… convenient. On the other hand, if their e-mails only go back 30 days, why fight the release? Does the RNC not have more stringent data retention policies than 30 days?

“We’d like to cooperate to whatever level is appropriate,” Republican Party spokeswoman Lisa Camooso Miller said Friday.

I don’t much like the sound of that either.

And just in case there was any lingering doubt about whether the RNC e-mail addresses were used for the express purposes of keeping shady business out of the official books:

Ralston used outside accounts – including at rnchq.org – to communicate with Abramoff and his partners. One e-mail from an Abramoff associate said that White House personnel had warned “it is better to not put this stuff in writing in [the White House] … e-mail system because it might actually limit what they can do to help us, especially since there could be lawsuits, etc.”

Abramoff’s response, according to a copy of his e-mail released by Waxman’s committee, was: “Dammit. It was sent to Susan on her rnc pager and was not supposed to go into the WH system.” Ralston later resigned in connection with the lobbying scandal.

Waxman told RNC Chairman Mike Duncan in a letter that such exchanges “indicated that in some instances White House officials were using nongovernment accounts specifically to avoid creating a record of communications” that could be reviewed by congressional committees or released under the Presidential Records Act.

Here’s the beauty part, though:

Lawyers for the committees say that use of campaign-connected e-mail addresses may make it easier to gather information because it would be harder for the White House to make a broad claim of executive privilege.

Mwahahahaha!!! I really don’t think they’re going to be able to claim executive privilege on communications that were deliberately kept off of the executive mailservers, but I’m sure they’ll try. They’ll essentially be arguing that their cheating and evasion was a lawful attempt to preserve executive privilege.

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Politics,Republicans,Rove

2 Comments

  • 1. PoliShifter  |  April 10th, 2007 at 1:36 am

    Remember this?

    “I don’t e-mail,” Bush said. “And there’s a reason. I don’t want you reading my personal stuff.”

    HahaHaHa! Looks like Waxman may have found Bush’s personal stuff…and if not Bush’s personal stuff then the stuff of his personal cronies.

  • 2. Eli  |  April 10th, 2007 at 10:06 am

    Gonzales doesn’t use e-mail either.


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