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Top Clinton ally to Gowdy: Release YOUR emails

A top Democrat hopes to give Republicans a taste of their own medicine.
House Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. reacts to a question during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., March 3, 2015. (Photo by Susan Walsh/AP)
House Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. reacts to a question during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., March 3, 2015.

If Hillary Clinton has to release her private emails, her allies want Republicans to turn over theirs too.

David Brock, who founded several key Democratic groups defending the former secretary of state and all-but-declared presidential candidate, is calling on Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, to release his private emails.

In a letter to Gowdy to be sent Wednesday, shared with msnbc, Brock calls the demand that Clinton turn over a personal email server “Orwellian” and says it has “no basis in law or precedent.” But, he says, if Clinton has to turn over her private emails, Gowdy and his staff should have a taste of their own medicine. 

“[S]ince you insist that Clinton’s private email be accessed, I’m writing today to ask you and your staff to abide by the same standard you seek to hold the Secretary to by releasing your own work-related and private email and that of your staff to the public,” Brock wrote.

Related: What Hillary didn't say

It’s the latest partisan move in the nine-day-old controversy surrounding Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email account during her tenure as secretary of state. Just weeks away from a potential presidential campaign announcement, Clinton addressed the controversy for the first time publicly in New York City Tuesday, saying she did nothing wrong. 

However, she said she deleted personal emails on the private server she set up at her home -- about half of the total 60,000 emails sent and received. Gowdy and other Republicans want Clinton to turn over that server so they can make sure no official business was mixed into the 30,000 emails she deleted. Clinton said Tuesday the server will remain private.

It’s highly unlikely that Gowdy will comply with Brock’s request, but Democrats are hoping to muddy the waters and portray Clinton as being unfairly, and held to a different standard than other government officials who use private email accounts.

“Every government employee decides for themselves what email is work-related and what is strictly private. There is no reason to hold Secretary Clinton to a different standard -- except partisan politics,” wrote Brock, who founded the Media Matters, American Bridge, and Correct the Record, three leading Democratic groups defending Clinton.

Congress is not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests, and many lawmakers use personal email addresses exclusively. “Most of us use our own private e-mails,” Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer told MSNBC's Andrew Mitchell Wednesday afternoon. “Frankly, none of us really use [official accounts]. We have our own private e-mails. There's no rule here.”

In his letter, Brock acknowledges that Congress is exempt from many federal record keeping laws, but added: “I believe this action is necessary to ensure public confidence in the fairness and impartiality of your investigation.”

A Gowdy spokesperson told msnbc last week that the Republican congressman uses both an official and personal email account, depending on the purpose.