The storage of Hillary Clinton's emails while she was in office has come under scrutiny since it was revealed that she used a personal, non-governmental email address to conduct official business as secretary of state, but a tech expert says the biggest benefit of using a personal server to store an individual email domain is "complete control" over what can be stored and deleted.
That may be the reason why Clinton developed such a service during her time at the State Department, as was revealed Tuesday by The Associated Press when they reported that she used a personal server based in her New York home to host her emails.
"Basically you can decide what gets preserved and what doesn’t," information technology consultant Bruce Webster told ABC News. "You have direct immediate monitoring what’s going on and part of it is just you don’t want anyone else looking at what’s been deleted and where and what’s coming in."
Clinton is not the only likely 2016 presidential candidate who purposefully used a private server to host their government emails.
"Governor Bush’s office complied with public records laws throughout his administration and beyond," spokesperson Kristy Campbell told ABC News. "His emails have been available via public records requests to the state following his time as Governor and a set resides with the Florida Department of State for historic and archival value."
In theory, there is no way of knowing whether every email that was originally on a personal server has been transferred over to a different server because personal servers can be wiped clean without any secondary trace of a message. But, in the case of Bush he released those emails not only to the Florida Department of State, but also to the public earlier this year. Florida has expansive open records laws and this release is required. ABC News was able to obtain copies of his emails at the end of last year due to the state’s open records law.
With a private server, "Nothing is ever stored anywhere... no one else has any other copy of it," Webster told ABC News.
Webster said that having a personal server is an extreme and rare step that does not inherently make it more secure and people who take this step often hire someone to manage it.
"It’s the sort of thing hard-core computer geeks tend to do," Webster said.
Today Clinton’s attorney David Kendall sent an email to the House Select Committee tasked with investigating the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, confirming that in spite of claims made by a Republican Congressman, Clinton used only one email address during her tenure and the reason she changed it was because it was publicly released on a news site in 2013.
“Secretary Clinton used one email account when corresponding with anyone, from Department officials to friends to family,” Kendall said in his email.
The email account that Clinton used while working at the State Department, according to The AP, was firstname.lastname@example.org and was traced to a server based out of Chappaqua, where she and former President Bill Clinton have a home.
ABC News can confirm that another email domain, wjcoffice.com, which used the former president's initials as their descriptor, was also based out of Chappaqua.
Internet records obtained by ABC News show that second domain, wjcoffice.com, was registered by an individual called Eric Hoteham. The AP reports that the same name was used to register the clintonemail.com domain.
Efforts to locate public records related to anyone named Eric Hoteham, however, were unsuccessful, in a search that included donor records, birth records, or property records.
There is, however, an Eric Hothem who is named as a Clinton aide in a Washington Post article from 2001. At the time, he reportedly dismissed concerns from the White House chief usher who believed that, when leaving the White House at the end of Clinton's second term, the couple took pieces of furniture that should have remained in the White House. Hothem is also thanked in Clinton’s 2003 memoir Living History. An Eric Hothem who works at JP Morgan did not answer requests for comment Wednesday and JP Morgan had “no comment” when asked about the story.
This evening Clinton, along with her husband and their daughter Chelsea, will be celebrating at the Clinton Foundation’s annual gala in New York City. The musical guest is Carole King and Neil Patrick Harris will also appear. Tickets range from $2,500 all the way up to $100,000 for “event chairs,” but it is closed to the press.
ABC's John Parkinson also contributed to this report.
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