AP: Top Obama appointees using secret e-mail addresses

Some top political appointees in the Obama administration are using secret government e-mail addresses, and several federal agencies have so far failed to disclose their addresses to the Associated Press despite a three-month old request, the AP reported Tuesday morning.

Those making use of secret addresses include Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the wire service said.

AP requested the addresses using a Freedom of Information Act request earlier this year. The AP article published Tuesday morning says the Labor Department initially asked the wire service to pay $1 million to cover the cost of researching the request and providing the information that was being sought.

The agencies involved say e-mails sent from or received by private accounts are still provided when specific requests for information are made, just like emails from regular government addresses. They justified the accounts as necessary to avoid flooding their inboxes, and said they were a good way for officials to separate internal business from e-mails they exchange with the public.

The AP reports that the following 10 agencies have failed to turn over a list of their secret e-mail addresses, but added that all the agencies say they are working on responding:

* Environmental Protection Agency

* The Pentagon

* Veterans Affairs

* Transportation

* Treasury

* Justice

* Housing and Urban Development

* Homeland Security

* Commerce

* Agriculture

Health and Human Services responded but initially didn't include e-mail addresses for Sebelius. After the AP objected, it turned over three addresses for her, including one secret address. It asked the AP not to publish the address, but the AP decided to publish it anyway, explaining that it did so because Sebelius is a high-ranking civil servant.

Others with secret addresses that have been discovered so far include Donald Berwick, who headed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Gary Cohen, a deputy administrator working on health insurance reform.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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