Haslam says his email use ‘isn’t a Hillary Clinton deal’

Gov. Bill Haslam said Friday that all state business is conducted on the state’s email system by him and his staff except for an occasional ” inadvertent slip” and that situation is not comparable to controversy over Hillary Clinton’s email, according to the News Sentinel.

The governor’s remarks were in response to the posting of dozens of email messages regarding state business and policy sent among Haslam’s current and former top staff and advisers using private accounts primarily associated with the campaign “@billhaslam.com” email domain established for his 2010 and 2014 election campaigns,

Nashville’s NewsChannel5 obtained the email through a public records request for “any state email sent to and from the domain billhaslam.com to or from” any member of the governor’s cabinet, which includes state department commissioners and the governor’s top staff. After the request was later narrowed down to one day, Aug. 24, 2015, the governor’s office produced several email exchanges that either originated from or were sent to the private accounts but which ended up in the state email system when they were forwarded or other state officials were copied on them.

According to a state memo given to NewsChannel5 with the email, the administration withheld 18 documents from disclosure — 14 on the grounds of a “deliberative process privilege” that Haslam’s office has asserted previously and the others for various exemptions to the Tennessee Public Records Act.

…”We do state business on state email. Occasionally, just like you — I’ll bet you have two emails — occasionally you will inadvertently use the wrong one. There is nothing there. I promise,” the governor said.

He said several of the released email exchanges involved the use of the billhaslam.com domain because several of his top staffers met and communicated with each other during his campaign. “A lot of those folks first came together through the campaign and that’s the email they had for me and for each other.

“I can tell you this isn’t a Hillary Clinton deal where we were using personal email only. There’s no state secrets on there. I guarantee you that 99.9 percent of emails happen on the state email except for an inadvertent slip. There’s nothing else.”

…Haslam said, for example, that emailing flowing into his personal cellphone often flows into one default account. “When something comes into your device, it has a default email that it goes to. My handheld default email is personal because I don’t want to do personal business on state email. I can assure you there’s no issue around that.”

The governor also said that his staff and Cabinet members are frequently reminded to use the state email system for state business. “We remind people all the time that state business has to happen on state email. I’ll bet that conversation happens not just in our staff meetings but at Cabinet meetings.”