If you’d thought that we’d heard the last of private servers, hidden communications and a general lack of transparency in the federal government, prepare to have your hopes dashed yet again. An exclusive report from the Daily Caller News Foundation reveals that the leadership of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was employing text messages on non-government cell phones to conduct department business with donors and lobbyists. There’s no telling if they got this idea from Hillary Clinton or cooked it up on their own, but transparency advocates clearly still have plenty to worry about.
Text messages obtained via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) show director Richard Cordray’s communications with Clinton donor and lobbyist Eileen Mancera.
The Daily Caller exclusively broke news of Richard Cordray’s likely illegal use of a private device for communications with other CFPB staffers last month, concealing his messages from FOIA requests.
Documents exclusively obtained by TheDC show that Cordray used a private device for communications and seemingly did not back them up or copy an official device, thus attempting to conceal them from private view. Now, it seems Cordray was attempting to use a private device to conceal his massages–to conceal communications with high-level lobbyists and donors.
The Clinton campaign ties into this story only tangentially. Cordray was in communication with Eileen Mancera and she is deeply tied in with John Podesta, George Soros and the usual gang of cogs inside the Clinton machinery. What is perhaps more disturbing is the fact that the discussions in question dealt more with lobbyists and donors than actual departmental policy. This drags in the usual host of questions about outside influence on government agencies and how much the public really knows regarding what goes on behind the curtains.
Digging further into the details seems almost pointless at this stage. It’s not as if we don’t know already that this sort of thing is going on, but we still seem to be essentially clueless in terms of what to do about it. This brings us back to a much broader question which is far from specific to the Clintons, Elizabeth Warren’s pet agency or any other groups or individuals inside the Washington bureaucracy. We live in an era of instantly available and frequently almost unbreakable, secure communications. Everyone has a smart phone, a tablet, a laptop and some ever-present connected device shoved in their ears. The days of scribbling out notes on parchment and handing them off to a trusted courier are a distant memory.
The question before us is, at least when it comes to our government servants, what if anything should we do about it? The business of the government is supposed to be the business of the people and as such we feel entitled to be able to peer into all of those conversations. But at the same time, communication regarding matters outside of work should remain private even for elected officials. How are we to separate the two? And even if such filtering were possible, establishing a system to monitor every avenue of communication for every person in public office would likely require some new agency reminiscent of Frank Zappa’s Central Scrutinitzer which would be larger than the entire federal government itself.
We’re never going to be able to keep track of every text message, DM on twitter and Instagram post of every individual inside of or doing business with the government. So do we simply throw our hands up in despair and allow them to run wild? Good question. I sincerely wish I had the answer for you.