White House spokesman downplays secret email accounts report

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday downplayed a report that political appointees were using secret government email accounts for internal use.

{mosads}The Associated Press reported Tuesday that officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other departments employed a second email address to separate important internal messages from overflowing their public email accounts.

But the report also raised questions about whether government officials were using their separate, secret accounts to avoid public records requests.

On Tuesday, Carney flatly denied that was the case.

“There’s nothing secret,” Carney said. “It’s about having a public email address and one for internal workings, but they’re all available for [Freedom of Information Act] searches.”

The press secretary added that the private accounts were also subject to congressional inquiry, “just like their public account.”

The White House spokesman also stressed that government employees “do not use and should not use private email accounts for work” and said the administration had made “significant strides” in public records access.

“Our record on FOIA compares favorably to every previous administration and reflects our efforts to be more transparent,” Carney said.

But the press secretary dodged a question about whether employees at the White House used multiple or secret email accounts. Instead, he offered that while he only had one email address, he had changed it from the standard White House formatting after former press secretary Robert Gibbs revealed it publicly.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson were among federal officials who were discovered to maintain secret email accounts.

The EPA said Tuesday that the use of separate accounts dates back to the Bush administration and insisted it reveals all correspondence from the addresses in response to FOIA requests.

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