Gov. Bobby Jindal will not release any work-related emails that he has sent during his two terms in office.
The Advocate requested copies of his emails last month, as controversy swirled over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of private email for work. Jindal has been flirting with a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. Clinton is expected to announce her candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the coming days.
Thomas Enright, Jindal’s chief lawyer, wrote in response to The Advocate’s request that no records exist outside of exemptions outlined in the state public records law.
“Aside from the obvious reason for excluding security information, these content-based exemptions support the environment of open discussion and full analysis necessary for staff to make recommendations to assist the governor in the usual course of the duties and business of his office,” Enright wrote in the denial, noting that Jindal only officially emails with internal staff.
Jindal’s office did not respond to a request for further comment from the governor.
He has repeatedly criticized Clinton and was asked to weigh in on the flap over her emails shortly after Clinton held a news conference to address the backlash.
“I was waiting for her to say, ‘What difference does it make?’ ” Jindal told The Des Moines Register. “I was kind of surprised she didn’t say that.”
Clinton has handed over her private emails to the State Department, and they are expected to be released.
But Louisiana residents may never see any emails Jindal has written during his time in office, thanks to broad exemptions in the state’s public records law.
The Advocate filed its request seeking release of Jindal’s emails on March 18. His administration asked for several days to look into the response and issued its denial on Friday.
Shortly after Jindal was elected on a platform pushing transparency and open government, he backed an overhaul of Louisiana’s public records law that redefined the Governor’s Office exemptions, shielding communication that would be considered part of the “deliberative process.”
Robert Travis Scott, the executive director of the Public Affairs Council of Louisiana, said his group, which advocates for transparency in government, believes the exemption is too broadly applied.
“The law is really not completely out of line to put it in there. What is out of line is how it’s been interpreted,” Scott said.
Legislation has been proposed for the session that begins Monday that would remove the Governor’s Office protections.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, another likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, released thousands of emails from his time in office.
The Advocate had requested that Jindal’s emails, even when they may be considered exempt under the law, be voluntarily released.
Following the controversy over Clinton’s emails, California Gov. Jerry Brown voluntarily released 113 emails in response to a request from The Sacramento Bee.
State laws vary on whether governors’ and other officials’ emails should be made public, even when conducting official business.