- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware Gov. Jack Markell is refusing to disclose a personal email address he often uses for state business, while acknowledging in response to a lawmaker’s FOIA request that it is one of the “worst-kept secrets” in state government.

In a letter last week to Rep. John Kowalko, Markell’s chief legal counsel, Andrew Lippstone, said Markell uses three state email accounts, including [email protected] and [email protected]

But Lippstone refused to provide the third email address, [email protected], even while noting that reporters often refer to it in FOIA requests, and that “it is among the worst-kept secrets in state government.”

Lippstone also acknowledged that the third account, like the other two, is subject to the Freedom of Information Act, even as he refused Kowalko’s request for a list of all email addresses and pseudonyms used by Markell for any communication regarding official state business.

“The reason the governor maintains a third email address on the state system is probably the same reason that virtually every chief executive has a ‘direct dial’ phone line that is distinct from his or her company’s main number,” Lippstone wrote.

“The system described above allows the governor to direct his attention to those emails that require his personal and/or immediate response, while directing the remaining messages to those members of the governor’s team who are in the best position to respond appropriately,” Lippstone wrote. “This is not about secrecy, but about the most effective and efficient way to manage a heavy volume of electronic communications.”

A Markell spokesman said the governor was unavailable to discuss the issue Tuesday. Lippstone said Kowalko’s request was denied because he was asking for a list that does not exist and which the administration is not obligated to create. He also suggested in his response to Kowalko that Markell is simply doing what other governors in Delaware and around the country have done.

Kowalko, meanwhile, said he will press the governor’s office for emails sent to the secret account and will appeal to the attorney general’s office if necessary.

“At best the governor’s response to my legitimate request for information is disappointing, and at worst it displays an arrogance and willingness to deliberately stifle transparency in our government,” Kowalko said in an angry letter to Lippstone on Monday.

“The governor has no ground to stand on if he is nonsensically claiming that keeping an email secret is not ‘secretive,’” Kowalko added, saying Markell has violated the spirit of Delaware’s open government law.


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