A recently released report from an internal Education Department Education watchdog claimed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has used personal email accounts in "limited" instances while conducting government business. According to NBC News, the government watchdog said DeVos sometimes sent or received work emails from four personal accounts and did not always preserve these messages properly.
In reporting the findings of a review requested by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the Department of Education's Office of Inspector General said it did not find "evidence of active or extensive use of personal email" by DeVos. However, it noted that it had found a "limited number" of instances in which the education secretary had used a personal account. Bustle has reached out to the Department of Education for comment.
While Education Department policy prohibits employees from using personal email accounts or other messaging apps for department business, the watchdog agency's report said DeVos sent or received less than 100 work or government emails through her four personal accounts between Jan. 20, 2017 and April 10, 2018. Many of these emails, the report said, were sent to DeVos in 2017 from people seeking to congratulate DeVos on her confirmation, issue advice and/or provide staffing recommendations.
But the watchdog also determined that emails related to government business, which were sent or received by one of DeVos' personal accounts "were not always being properly preserved." According to the Office of Inspector General, a Department of Education policy requires any employee who uses personal email to conduct business to "forward those messages to a Department account within 20 days." Investigators said they found no instances where DeVos forwarded emails pertaining to government business from her personal accounts to her Education Department email. Such messages appeared to have only been preserved in the email accounts of other Education Department employees who had been included in the email, the internal watchdog said.
In its report, the Office of Inspector General noted that during its review DeVos' office had said it was "taking additional steps to identify and preserve" Department-related emails in the education secretary's personal email accounts, including forwarding them as required by Department policy.
While DeVos' use of personal email accounts may not have been "extensive," the revelation may prove potentially troublesome for the president. Before taking office, President Donald Trump repeatedly harangued then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail about her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of State. During the second presidential debate of the 2016 election, for example, Trump told Clinton she'd "be in jail" because of her emails if he was in charge of the law. In fact, spurred by Trump's continuous calls for her prosecution, "lock her up" became a popular chant among Trump supporters at rallies.
DeVos isn't the only Trump administration official reported to have used personal accounts for work-related communications. Late last year, The Washington Post reported that Ivanka Trump had violated federal records rules by sending "hundreds" of emails to assistants, White House aides, and Cabinet officials using her personal email account.
As part of its report into DeVos' conduct, the Office of Inspector General noted that the Department of Education could improve its training to communicate more clearly to employees what is considered to be an appropriate use of personal email and messaging applications.