No, these are not 2016 campaign accounts. These are the latest, highest-profile examples of private e-mail accounts used by powerful officials to conduct government business. Both political heavyweights just happen to be preparing campaigns for president.
Reports this week that Hillary Rodham Clinton relied on her personal account entirely, and did not even have a government e-mail address during her tenure as secretary of state, have triggered a firestorm over the accountability of public officials and the security of valuable information. It turns out Jeb Bush had a personal account, too, while governor of Florida.
Both used their own digital servers, revealing the high degree of personal control they held over all their official e-mails.
The disclosures highlight an ethical controversy in all levels of government and underscore just how easily politicians can set up systems that operate beyond the scrutiny of the public they were elected to serve.
The disclosure has raised questions about whether Hillary Rodham Clinton adhered to the letter or spirit of accountability laws.
Personal e-mails for public business “is not rare at all,” said Miles Rapoport, a former Connecticut secretary of state and current president of Common Cause, a Washington-based advocacy organization that promotes government accountability. “We have [Freedom of Information Act] laws and records preservations laws for reasons of transparency and accountability, and having huge numbers of e-mails on private servers doesn’t get us there.”