Froomkin Gems

A couple of fascinating Dan Froomkin-related items, first from his newly re-christened White House Watch blogumn (part blog, part column):

One curious aspect of yesterday’s document dump is that it shows e-mails from J. Scott Jennings, who is Karl Rove’s deputy at the White House, coming from an e-mail address at — a domain owned by the Republican National Committee.

It makes some sense that White House officials might have and use such accounts when they conduct party business, rather than White House business. But the distinction between party and government business seems to have been forgotten here — which I guess is exactly the point.

Eggen and Kane write in The Post: “Democratic congressional aides said they will investigate whether using the private address for government business violated laws against using taxpayer resources for political work or signaled that White House officials considered the firing of U.S. attorneys to be primarily a political issue. Jennings did not return a call to his office seeking a comment.

“‘As a matter of course, the RNC provides server space and equipment to certain White House personnel in order to assist them with their political efforts,’ RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said.”

I have asked a White House spokesman to answer the following questions:

1) Does White House policy allow White House staffers to use non-White House e-mail addresses for official White House business? Does it prohibit it? What is the policy?

2) Would these e-mails be treated any differently from official White House e-mails when it comes to archiving or subpoena purposes?

3) Does it create either impropriety or the appearance of impropriety that is a domain owned by the Republican National Committee?

4) Do other White House staffers regularly use non-White House e-mail accounts for White House business, and if so, why?

So far, no answers.

Next, from today’s online chat with Der Froom.

Arlington, Va.: Hi, Dan — hope I am not too late. It sure does seem like we need to know more about Brett Tolman, the guy who beat out Kyle Sampson for the job of U.S. Attorney in Utah. What a bizarre coincidence that before he got the job, he was the staffer for Arlen Spector who is responsible for inserting the now infamous U.S. Attorney rule in the Patriot Act…

Dan Froomkin: No kidding, really? I didn’t know that!

But by golly, you’re right. Here’s a story about Sampson and Tolman by Robert Gehrke of the Salt Lake Tribune.

2 thoughts on “Froomkin Gems

  1. I know not the precise technicalities of the WH email system, but is there a remote possibility that some of these emails were accidentally sent from the wrong address? What I had in mind is the fact that some email services such as Gmail allow you to send and receive email from multiple accounts via POP3 access – theoretically, depending upon your email configuration, you could end up sending work emails from a non-work address.
    That doesn’t deflect in the slightest from Froomkin’s Four Queries, in that the question is then begged, why in the world would a WH staffer set up their email in that manner, if indeed there is any ambiguity about how such emails might be archived or subpoenaed? Was there a pattern to the use of the address that negates the possibility of accidental misuse?

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