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Email troubles spread for Clinton critics

Republicans hoped to make email transparency a key issue in the 2016 presidential race. At this point, however, the issue appears to be backfiring on them.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee delivers remarks during the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., March 7, 2014.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee delivers remarks during the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., March 7, 2014.
In the context of the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton's critics have raised legitimate questions about her use of a private email account during her tenure as Secretary of State. The problem has been that many of those same critics are vulnerable to the exact same questions -- many Republican White House hopefuls used private accounts to conduct official business and/or shielded communications from public scrutiny.
Tim Murphy noted yesterday that Mike Huckabee belongs on the same list.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee thinks questions about Hillary Clinton's emails as secretary of state "will linger" throughout the 2016 presidential race. "If the law said you had to maintain every email for public inspection, that's what you got to do," he recently told ABC News. Huckabee also suggested that the missing emails might shed new light on the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya in 2012. Huckabee, who is considering a second run for president himself, is probably right that the issue of secrecy will dog Clinton's campaign going forward. But he might not be the best man to make that case. As Mother Jones reported in 2011, Huckabee destroyed his administration's state records before leaving office in 2007.

Email was, of course, a common tool used during Huckabee's tenure, but when the Arkansas Republican left office, according to his successor's chief legal counsel, all of the computers used by the GOP governor and his aides were removed. What's more, all of the hard drives were "physically destroyed."
The former governor has not yet explained why it was necessary to keep these materials hidden.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), meanwhile, was already facing questions for criticizing Clinton despite his own controversial email policies, and overnight, an Associated Press report made matters just a little more complicated: "As Florida governor, Jeb Bush used another, previously unreported email address, records show -- the newest wrinkle in an evolving debate over public officials' use of private email accounts."
According to his spokesperson, the unannounced candidate said he was unaware of this other account, "although records showed that people wrote to him there more than 400 times between 1999 and 2004."
Away from the national scene, the Des Moines Register reports that Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) has said for years that he doesn't use a smartphone or email, but in a recent deposition, the governor acknowledged use of a Blackberry. Though his spokesperson said he does not send emails, Branstad apparently does receive messages from aides with summaries of local news stories.
It's unlikely any of these stories would generate significant attention were it not for Republicans insisting that email transparency become a key national issue right now. In retrospect, that probably wasn't a good idea.