Using personal email and texting for government business is a bad idea, but Montana politicians went into a long rhetoric account in the Standard 01-08-2017 trying to justify the use of a private email accounts for government business. I was not convinced. Avoidance of federal and state records laws, accountability, transparency, weakening of the public trust, requirement to produce records and documents needed for Freedom of Information Act requests and complying with state archives laws were not mentioned.
Who is paying the private email server for the email and texting appears to be the Montana taxpayer. This is clever but not very ethical.
Other concerns not addressed include risk in the release of personal information about residents and opening Montana up to lawsuits, litigation discovery, audits, and public requests for documents not available. When government and legislators cannot produce the records there is always the suspicion the government is hiding something … trust us? No I don’t think so. Perhaps the private email account called government is used for elections and re-elections and being paid for by opponent taxpayer voters in Montana? Now that is interesting. Do family members see the account they call government business and send it to friends? Where is the protection and security?
Hillary’s name came up in the article. Is the governor saying if Hillary did it and got away with it, so we can do it here in Montana too -- but maybe she isn’t off the hook yet? Time will tell.
The only one that came up with any logic that is clear was Corey Stapleton: “Open government advocates and historians argue electronic communications are public records and their preservation is increasingly important” same as the Federal Records Act.
Deleting and erasing official email called government is just plain illegal, but been going on in Montana for years. Didn’t we just find that out at the federal level? Should it continue in Montana even though it’s illegal? No, it should not! Period! Paper documents that are public record cannot be destroyed as well. Were they and who did it?
There should be consequences for these illegal actions. We are a nation of laws and Montana is no exception.
-- Jack D. Jones, Butte, worked as a wildlife biologist in Montana for 36 years with the Bureau of Land Management.