Hillary Clinton wins Worst in Governance

by Jeremy Loudenback

Worst in Governance

Until a couple of weeks ago, Hillary Clinton’s path to the White House in 2016 was considered a fait accompli, lacking only a formal announcement of her candidacy and a ticket to Philadelphia. But with recent revelations about her use of a private email account during her tenure as Secretary of State, Clinton suddenly has a transparency problem that makes her our pick for worst in governance.

A recent New York Times investigation uncovered a discomfiting disclosure that Clinton exclusively used a private email address to conduct official business while serving as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. Because only official government accounts are preserved under the Federal Records Act, no record of Clinton’s electronic communications has been retained. Subsequent discoveries that Clinton had set up her own server at home in New York and created a domain name (clintonemail.com) dating back to around the time of her Senate hearings only seemed to add fuel to the fire. As a Washington Post editorial points out, Clinton’s email controversy raises many questions:

How secure was the private e-mail? What was her motive? Did anyone ask why the secretary of state was breaking with an announced administration policy? Why did she not turn over the e-mails promptly upon leaving office? Has she withheld anything?

Several other government officials have been caught using private email accounts for official business. (One State Department official was even fired for a similar offense during Clinton’s time at the agency.) But rather than excuse her behavior, as Slate’s Josh Voorhees writes, the ignominious incidents that have resulted from unsanctioned use of private email demonstrate why the practice should not be immediately dismissed as an early example of campaign mud-slinging.

Whether you think Clinton was deliberately trying to conceal revealing communications may depend on your political leanings. But what’s beyond debate is Clinton’s lack of good judgment. Her failure to take ownership in a press conference earlier this week—she grudgingly described the decision to keep her email private as a “matter of convenience”—has not done much to disabuse negative perceptions of her.  While she may not have broken the letter of the law, Clinton has a lot of work to do to regain the trust of voters before she starts planning her campaign in earnest.