McCain Claims ‘Secret’ Email Accounts Fuel Distrust, Uses Secret Email Address

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) (Credit: AP)

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) criticized the Obama administration in a letter Monday, accusing officials of undermining public trust in government by using “secret e-mail addresses.” But McCain himself uses a secret e-mail address — as have previous Republican administration officials since the federal government began using email.

In his letter, McCain cited a recent Associated Press story which, he noted, said “top administration officials at various government agencies have created – and used – secret e-mail accounts for activities relating to government business.” The Associated Press neglected to mention that high ranking officials in the Bush administration also routinely used a secondary email address for important communications — rather than doing all business with an email address available to the general public.

The EPA, for example, released to ThinkProgress a list of E-mail addresses used by the four people who served as Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency during the Bush administration. Each had a public address (using the typical agency format of lastname.firstname@epa.gov) and a private one.

This practice is understandable — no one would expect the President to give the public his private cellphone number or to send and receive messages to top aides through his president@whitehouse.gov address — and contrary to McCain’s suggestions, they are as much covered by Freedom of Information and presidential records retention laws and as any other executive branch emails.

But McCain too uses a “secret” e-mail address. ThinkProgress called his office Monday to inquire as to his own Senate e-mail address, which is not listed on his website. The woman answering the phone said that they were not permitted to give out the Senator’s e-mail address, beyond a general office address.

Other U.S. Senators and Representatives also typically have non-published e-mail addresses, though Congress exempted itself from Freedom of Information laws.