President Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos used her personal email accounts for official business in “limited” cases, according to results of an internal investigation released on Monday.
The Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) said in a report of its findings that it surveyed DeVos and 51 other political appointees as of Nov. 9, 2017, “to determine whether the officials and the Secretary received the Department’s records management training and used their personal email and/or messaging accounts to conduct government business.”
Across DeVos’s four known personal email addresses, investigators found “a limited number of emails” that included government business and were sent or received between Jan. 20, 2017, and April 10, 2018, or the first few months of DeVos’s tenure, the report states.
“Most messages occurred during the first 6 months of 2017 and were from a single writer who was offering advice on potential candidates for Department positions,” reads the report. “The Secretary reported that it was not her practice to conduct government business using personal email accounts, and where she was aware that emails on a personal account may have involved government business, she took steps to ensure that such communications were directed to the Department’s email system.”
Among these messages, officials say they found six that were sent by DeVos to a department email address.
According to the report, five of those had to do with to official business.
The department bars all employees from using personal email to conduct official business unless their work accounts aren’t available. If the employees do use a personal address, they’re supposed to forward any relevant messages to their work emails within 20 days.
But DeVos’s emails “were not always being properly preserved,” according to the OIG.
“We did not identify any instances where the secretary forwarded emails from her personal accounts to her department email accounts,” the report says.
Education Department spokeswoman Liz Hill said in a statement to The Hill that “Media coverage of the IG report on personal email is the definition of click bait.”
“I understand that ‘DeVos + Personal Email’ gets clicks, but receiving fewer than 100 emails and then forwarding them to senior staff to ensure they are captured on our government email server is hardly news,” Hill said.
The Hill reports:
Because these emails weren’t always saved properly, the OIG report says, some were not included in the results of a public records request.
“In response to one FOIA request for email to and from any private email account controlled by the Secretary, we found that the Department did not identify or produce responsive email that we identified during our review. For another FOIA request, the Department did identify and produce email sent by the Secretary from her private account,” the report reads.