Magazine article The News Media and the Law (Online)

Kaine Emails Reveal Little More Than a Careful Governor

Magazine article The News Media and the Law (Online)

Kaine Emails Reveal Little More Than a Careful Governor

Article excerpt

Email issues may be causing headaches for Hillary Clinton, but a look through the more than 145,000 email records publicly available online from Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine's term as governor of Virginia show little more than a politician who is media conscious, careful even of language in internal memos lest they be leaked to the press, and who worked closely with press representatives on amendments to the state Freedom of Information Act.

The email messages - part of more than 1.3 million records still being processed by the Library of Virginia - also provide some insight into Sen. Kaine's reluctance to release his full travel schedule when he served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee during his last year as governor.

Shortly after becoming chairman of the DNC in January 2009, critics questioned whether Kaine's travels as DNC chairman were affecting his work as governor. While his office made public a daily schedule, including official trips he took as governor, it did not include Kaine's travel for the DNC.

"In the political press it received quite a bit of attention, but I don't know that it was an all-dominating scandal or anything," said Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government.

Kaine's office e-mail reveals denials to at least three FOIA requests for his travel records from The Associated Press, Judicial Watch, and the Republican Party of Virginia.

Two legal memos prepared for one of Kaine's top counselors argued that Kaine's travel schedules were exempt from state FOIA because they were "working papers ... for his personal and deliberative use."

After continued pressure, Kaine's office released a summary of his travels at the end of every month, but didn't make distinctions between DNC and state travels.

In a June 2009 email to Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers and Kaine's close friend, the then-governor confided that he would only publish his public schedule because it was "the right practice."

"I have told the press that I am glad to talk to them about what I am doing and my schedule whenever they ask me," Kaine wrote. "I do 5-10 press availabilities a week where I take any questions and have never refused to answer an inquiry about my schedule or anything else. For some reason, that has not been sufficient. You know the challenges!"

Neither his Senate office or campaign responded to the Reporters Committee's questions regarding Kaine's stance on transparency issues. …

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