While Hillary Clinton endures the continued fallout from the news that she used only a private e-mail system to conduct official business while she was secretary of state, several potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates are facing email and transparency issues of their own.
Several Republicans have also leaned heavily on private emails during their time in office – and have been criticized in the past for not releasing other documents – just as they skewer Clinton for not being forthright with her personal emails. The comparison isn’t perfect: Clinton is the only potential candidate to exclusively use a personal email address while in office. But the firestorm surrounding Clinton could also put a spotlight on these GOPers eyeing the Oval Office.
“There’s a litany of Republicans who might also find themselves in this quagmire,” said Tobe Berkovitz, a professor of advertising at Boston University’s college of communication, who has spent 30 years as a political media consultant. But he added, “It’s somewhat different than when you think of a Jeb Bush, a Bobby Jindal or a Rick Perry when the first thing that comes to mind isn’t necessarily what they are hiding,” Berkovitz added, arguing that for Clinton, the email woes exacerbates existing narratives that her family is secretive .
Still, Democratic National Committee press secretary Holly Shulman said several Republicans also have several questions to answer, saying “they are casting stones from some pretty fragile glass houses.”
As msnbc previously reported, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who called Clinton’s decision to keep emails on a personal server “baffling,” owns the server that runs his personal email account he used as governor for official and personal business. Last month, he did release emails related to official business from his two terms as governor – as required by law. But his use of the private address has some questioning what if any messages were deleted and if they were all released. The right has argued the situations are different.
Scott Walker has also called Clinton’s use of a private email address an “outrage” – but faced similar criticism when he was Milwaukee County executive. During that time, his staffers used personal laptop computers and set up a secret wireless router for gubernatorial campaign business. Those details were part of the John Doe investigation into Walker’s time before he was elected governor.
Walker has dismissed the comparison, telling The Weekly Standard that the “craziest news story” out of the private email network “is that someone who appears to have been an intern years ago wrote a draft letter in response to a request to put up a menorah candle for Hanukkah and at the end said Molotov instead of Mazel Tov. If that’s the craziest thing you can look at, most people realize that really wasn’t much of anything.”
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who also criticized Clinton, also used a private email account for government business, according to the Texas Tribune. And back in 2012, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s top aides reportedly used a personal email to come up with a media strategy for cuts to Medicaid, with his spokesperson at the time acknowledging Jindal uses a private email account to communicate with immediate staff.
Clinton responded to the email controversy on Tuesday, saying it was a move done out of convenience, not secrecy, but admitted it would have been “smarter” to do things differently. Still, many questions remain—including what emails she deleted, if the email was really secure and who in her administration greenlit the idea.