Richmond mayor using AOL account for city business

Published: Mar. 10, 2015 at 8:15 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 20, 2015 at 5:55 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The issue of using a personal email to conduct official government business, like what Hillary Clinton has done, is going on in our area. The On Your Side Investigators have uncovered Mayor Dwight Jones uses personal email addresses for city business.

Mayor Jones is sending emails among the highest levels of city government with an AOL address. It's not the only personal email address we found for your city business. A Freedom of Information Act request revealed records with and ""

These are recent messages, not from years ago when the mayor was running for office or new to the job.

Included on the correspondence are the mayor's chief of staff, chief policy advisor, press secretary and the city chief administrative officer. Those addresses, however, are official. Like those staffers, the mayor also has a city account, which is ""

The mayor's press secretary attributed the personal accounts to Jones not using a city-issued cell phone.

Tammy Hawley sent us a statement, which reads, "…the city email accounts are not tied to his mobile device, but rather his AOL account is. This has been his status since being elected as he prefers not to carry two mobile phones and he pays for the expense of his mobile device out of his own pocket."

In the Clinton instance, there's no outright state department ban on using personal email accounts to conduct official government business. So we wanted to know more on exactly what rules govern the mayor at City Hall.

"It doesn't really matter whether it's on your government account or your AOL or Yahoo or Gmail account, what matters is if it has to do with the transaction of public business," Megan Rhyne, with the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, explained.

While Jones is not breaking Virginia law, Rhyne says what he is doing could be problematic.

"You'd have one individual who'd have total control over the management of those records," she added. "If they're running through a government server you have some backups."

Hawley told us they include the personal email addresses in any request for records. She also notes, unlike Clinton, Jones does not conduct any city business over a personally owned server.

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