With the Democrat presidential candidates set to debate tonight, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email shenanigans certain to be a topic, North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer has introduced legislation aimed at prohibiting the use of private email servers by cabinet level officials in the future.
Cramer’s arguments for the legislation are motivated by both security and transparency concerns.
“Our nation’s electronic communications and records are under constant cyber-attack by terrorist organizations and more frequently by foreign governments,” Cramer says in a press release today. “This legislation ensures no Department Secretary may use a private server for emails and storage of electronic data. It is in the interest of national security to ensure our nation’s secrets and communications between our top leaders receive the highest level of protection.”
“The use of private email servers may inhibit the preservation of all records and electronic communications which may be needed for Congressional, civil or criminal investigations,” Cramer continues. “The SERVER Act will help ensure all records and communications are maintained and stored in compliance with federal law.”
The “SERVER” part stands for Securing Every Relevant and Vital Electronic Record. No word on if Congress uses a special server to create clever acronyms for their bills.
Anyway, the consequences for violating this law would be stiff. There would be fines, the possibility of up to three years in prison, and violators would lose their office and would be disqualified from holding any future office in the United States.
So, you know, ouch.
In 2014 Congress passed, and President Obama signed into law, the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014. That law requires that federal officials send any official business email communications they receive with private accounts to their official accounts by copying the official account on the email or forwarding the emails there within 20 days. But that legislation apparently doesn’t prohibit the use of a private email server, which is what Cramer’s bill does.
Really, though, you’d think it’d be simpler to just make it law that official business be done through official email accounts managed on official servers. Period.
Anyway, I wonder if Cramer’s North Dakota colleague Senator Heidi Heitkamp, who is a supporter of Clinton’s for President, will sign on to support this legislation in the Senate?
You can read the text of the legislation below.