When Hillary Clinton Promised a Transparent Government During Her Failed Run for President

• March 3, 2015 1:30 pm


As a candidate for president in 2008, Hillary Clinton promised a more open and transparent government.

"Well, number one, I want to have a much more transparent government, and I think we now have the tools to make that happen," Clinton said.

"I want to have as much information about the way our government operates on the Internet so the people who pay for it, the taxpayers of America, can see that," Clinton said as a presidential candidate on Meet the Press.

Clinton’s rhetoric on the campaign trail did not match her record at the State Department. The New York Times reported that as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton used a personal account to conduct official government business.

Clinton never acquired an official government account, drawing many questions about the security of the emails themselves. Even more alarming, Clinton never stored her emails on department servers as required by the Federal Records Act. Former Obama officials were puzzled by the news. Robert Gibbs called it "highly unusual."

Clinton, much like Obama, condemned the Bush administration and promised to embrace the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

"I will direct my administration to prevent needless classification of information that ought to be shared with the public. We will adopt a presumption of openness on Freedom of Information Act requests and urge agencies to release information quickly if disclosure will do no harm," Clinton said to the Newspaper Editors Conference.

The AP reported in December 2014 that Clinton’s State Department files were still not opened to the public four years after the first FOIA requests were made.

The State Department denied multiple AP requests to release records. In fact, under Clinton, the State Department was among one of the worst performing federal agencies to respond to FOIA requests.

The State Department on average takes 450 days to turn over information, 30 times longer than the Treasury Department. The Center for Effective Government called the State Department the "worst-performing agency because of its delays and frequent failure to deliver the full number of files that people requested."

The State Department blamed a heavy load of requests and small staff for their poor record. An inspector general reported in 2012 that the State Department was "inefficient and ineffective" in turning over requests.

One state department official said timing of information request returns depends on a ‘complex and lengthy administrative FOIA process."

Tuesday’s report now brings to question whether the state department purposefully blamed their backlog of FOIA requests to cover up Clinton’s lack of record keeping.

In 2014, the Sunlight Foundation’s Bill Allison accused the state department of purposefully delaying its release of information.

"No reporter works on a four-year time-cycle," Allison said, asserting that delaying request returns would kill potentially damaging stories.

Clinton is likely to announce her candidacy for president in 2016 and Americans are likely to hear similar rhetoric in the coming months. When it comes to Clinton’s record, however, even her own supporters have said that her actions add to the narrative that Clinton has no interest in transparency and accountability.

Published under: 2016 Election, Hillary Clinton