Separate White House E-mail Accounts Draw New Criticism

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News that administration officials are buying separate private E-mail accounts to avoid using the internal system, coupled with reports that aides have often used GOP E-mail accounts, is drawing heat from public interest groups. One, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, claims the practice could be illegal.

According to CREW, the Presidential Records Act appears to require that internal documentation be kept and that it should be handled in official channels. The separate accounts are outside those channels.

"It appears that White House staff members routinely violated the law by using RNC E-mail accounts for official business," said CREW's Melanie Sloan.

One popular series of Republican National Committee-sponsored E-mail addresses are hosted at "gwb43.com." And as the News Desk reported this week, some administration members are using private phone and BlackBerry accounts now so that their E-mails, especially private E-mails to friends and staffers, aren't subpoenaed.

The issue arose when the administration turned over 3,000 documents, many including internal E-mails, to Hill probers looking into the firing of federal prosecutors. CREW has sent a letter to the White House office of administration asking them to explain how the administration is complying with the Public Records Act.

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