Hillary Clinton steers clear of e-mail controversy

Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton speaking at the 30th anniversary of Emily's List in Washington on March 3, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton speaking at the 30th anniversary of Emily's List in Washington on March 3, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - Before a roaring crowd of supporters gathered on Tuesday night in Washington to mark the 30th anniversary of Emily's List, Hillary Clinton steered clear of any mention of the revelation that she used a private e-mail account during her tenure as secretary of state.

She focused her message instead on the economy while teasing her potential campaign for the White House.   

"I suppose it's only fair to say, don't you someday want to see a woman president?" the former secretary of state told a crowd of more than 1,600 gathered to celebrate the group that has helped pro-choice Democratic women reach every echelon of elected office short of the presidency. 

"Elections should be contests of ideas," Mrs Clinton said. "Women who have entered the arena well-equipped... can make their case, can be elected."

In another veiled reference to her plans, which are likely to include launching a campaign in April, she said:  "Along life's way you get a chance to make millions of decisions. Some of them are big, like do you run for office."

While Mrs Clinton wasn't shy about hinting at what might be next, she didn't talk about a recent flurry of unflattering stories swirling around her, including the Clinton Foundation's history of accepting contributions from foreign governments, and her use of a personal e-mail account while at the State Department.

Emily's List president Stephanie Schriock did, however, allude to the scrutiny Mrs Clinton has received in her introduction of the Democratic frontrunner. "Nobody in American political history has faced more unfair attacks, more desperate opposition than Hillary," she said. But Mrs Clinton has "shown us how to shake off the setbacks, ignore the haters and keep focused on moving our country forward".

Mrs Clinton's exclusive use of personal e-mail for her government business is unusual for a high-level official, archive experts have said.

Federal regulations, since 2009, have required that all e-mails be preserved as part of an agency's record-keeping system.

In Mrs Clinton's case, her e-mails were kept on her personal account and her staff took no steps to have them preserved as part of State Department record. Clinton's advisers, late last year, reviewed her account and decided which e-mails to turn over to the State Department.

A Clinton aide detailed ways in which Mrs Clinton did not run afoul of archival laws or the practices of her predecessors. Mrs Clinton only used her e-mail account for non-classified information, the aide said, backing up an assertion that the State Department made earlier Tuesday.