Missing Emails and Casual Compliance With the Law

As Dan Froomkin points out, the White House has been casual in its approach to law breaking. As practiced in the White House, the Unitary Executive theory means that the executive branch of government need not obey laws passed by the legislative branch or decisions rendered by the judicial branch. Hence the casual approach to complying with, say, the Presidential Records Act, and the apparent lack of concern that at least 88 White House officials used email accounts with the Republican National Committee to conduct the nation's business, or that the email records of 51 of those officials have gone missing.

The argument that officials used RNC accounts so that they wouldn't violate the Hatch Act is difficult to understand, because the Hatch Act prevents federal employees from engaging in political activity while on duty. Whether the officials used a White House account or an RNC account is less significant than whether they were using the accounts for a forbidden political purpose while they were supposed to be earning their federal salaries. Of course, whether they engaged in improper activities is difficult to judge when the emails that may answer that question can't be found.

Did officials use RNC accounts to conduct public business to avoid making the public record that the Presidential Records Act requires? Or did they use RNC accounts solely to engage in political activities while they were on duty in their government jobs? Either way, as Froomkin suggests, they've managed to avoid scrutiny by using email accounts that have conveniently failed to keep a record of their emails.

This should come as no surprise:

And as the new House Oversight Committee report points out, the White House counsel's office -- then headed by current Attorney General Alberto Gonzales -- was aware of these violations of e-mail policy, but chose to do nothing about it.

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    Hatch Act Unspun (none / 0) (#1)
    by baked potato on Tue Jun 19, 2007 at 03:16:14 PM EST
    Great point about the Hatch Act forbidding political activities by government employees while they're on the clock.  So far the 'Thugs have successfully pushed the narrow idea, which the press has dutifully parroted, that the Act forbids political use of government "resources" (suggesting paper, pens and email accounts - not people!)

    And all Gore did (none / 0) (#2)
    by lilybart on Tue Jun 19, 2007 at 03:17:56 PM EST
    was use a white house phone to call some Buddhists, or something.

    my head shakes so much and my jaw is in permentent "drop"---I look like I have some kind of disease

    I don't ::think:: (none / 0) (#3)
    by Edger on Tue Jun 19, 2007 at 03:33:14 PM EST
    Elmer Fuddocrat-iosis is contagious. IOW, it's not you. It's them. The DLC and the Blue Dogs and the rest of the Rethugs who registered as Democrats to hijack the party when they saw the writing on the wall and the rest of the Democrats in Congress who never noticed.

    Elmer Fuddocrats

    Candidates, officeholders, and party members who, having the opposition cornered at point-blank range, decide instead to shoot their own party in the face. See: Senate Elmernority Fuddership, the Fuddocratic Branch of the Democratic Party, Joe Lieberman, also, ReFuddican impeachment management.
    (If you find my mind please send it home. It's such a small thing I hardly notice when it leaves)

    Who Would Have Thought. (none / 0) (#4)
    by bselznick on Tue Jun 19, 2007 at 04:36:00 PM EST
    You have to remember, for years the WH was under the delusion that there would be a Permanent Republican Majority as guarenteed by Karl.  They thought they could do anything and no one would ever get a foot in the door to take a look.  Even right after the 2006 election when AttornyGate started, I don't think they believed anything would change.  Perhaps they had gotten themselves so drunk on the concept of endless power, they just couldn't imagine being investigated.

    Yes but (none / 0) (#6)
    by squeaky on Tue Jun 19, 2007 at 09:11:57 PM EST
    They think that they have learned from the mistakes that got them caught the first time. This time they were sure that they could get away with their criminal activity. Arrogance is their biggest weakness.

    Ideologically Bankrupt (none / 0) (#7)
    by NMRon on Tue Jun 19, 2007 at 10:45:06 PM EST
    The reality of conservative ideology put into practice. Government without honesty or integrity, ridicule for the rule of law, true oligarchical usurpation.