- 04/04/2015 by Bob Hennelly (Salon)

On paper, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could not be more polar opposites. Yet when it comes to their personal cyber-space etiquette, they have a lot in common. Both Christie and Clinton have used private communications like texts and emails to conduct government business and in the process looped their top aides into the dubious practice.

In business, keeping two sets of books is usually illegal. Should governing be different?

In deciding to use private email and text accounts, both Christie, Clinton and their staffs hoped to retain command and control of their story line. Who wouldn’t want to be able to edit your own narrative? But it’s trusting in the judgment of others, like the press and the public, that is the distinction between history and vanity.

New Jersey and the United States have pretty robust laws crafted to promote official document retention and government accountability and transparency for the public and the press. The Federal Freedom of Information Act , passed in 1996, and New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act , passed in 2002, were both rooted in the core democratic principle that government had a moral obligation to retain its records documenting its deliberations and that the public had a right to access them.

In the case of former Secretary of State Clinton, who exclusively used a private e-mail account and server, it was entirely up to the former Secretary, and those in her employ, to decide after she left government service just what she wanted preserved as a retrievable public document.

After Clinton’s disclosure. Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who chairs the House Select Committee on Benghazi, requested the former Secretary of State turn over her private server to a “neutral, detached and independent third party” to identify which e-mails were responsive to Gowdy’s subpoena.

After granting Clinton a two week extension to respond, Politico reported her Attorney David Kendall let Gowdy know that the hundreds of pages already in his Committee’s possession would have to suffice and that the entirety of Clinton’s e-mail on her private server from her period as Secretary of State had been deleted.

 Bob Hennelly is a writer and WBAI Morning Show producer.

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