Emails are popping up as a political issue, not only in Washington DC, but right here in Montana. Montana Governor Steve Bullock and other administrative staff who previously worked at the Attorney General's office are missing years of emails that were supposed to be saved for public records under Montana law. Montana Attorney General Tim Fox’s spokesman John Barnes, says it is unclear what happened to the emails.

“We don’t know, we don’t know what happened to those records,” Barnes said. “We know that the I.T. staff here at the Department of Justice...  when Attorney General Bullock and his staff left, there were no instructions given to I.T. to delete or preserve anything. So what happened to them, we are not able to determine that at this point.”

Barnes says that each individual employee is responsible for making sure that state documents including email are preserved and that under the Fox administration employees are directed to do exactly that.

“We have taken the step to ensure that every single e-mail record that they had, when they left all of the documents on their machine or computer, have been are preserved,” Barnes said. “We’ve taken all of those things and put them on the server in the agency. So they’re there to be searched through in response to a records request or if they need something for agency business or a piece of litigation or whatever, it’s all there.”

Montana State Senator Kris Hanson says the missing emails may contain very important journalistic and historical information about many high profile decisions during Bullock’s tenure.

“The actual issues that Attorney General Bullock was dealing with between 2008 and 2012, that record no longer exists for,” Hanson said. “Those were some serious issues. We’re talking the Missoula County Attorney discrimination investigation, we’re talking about the Barry Beach appeal, we're talking about Bullocks vote on Otter Creek Coal and we’re talking about Citizens United.”

Montana law during Bullock's tenure as AG is pretty clear on the issue of state record keeping and said “all public records are and shall remain the property of the state. They shall be delivered by outgoing officials and employees to their successors (MCA 2-6-205)." According to Barnes, when Bullock left the Attorney General’s office, email accounts were terminated by the Department of Administration, however, all of the email archives possibly retained on hard drives were not turned over to the Fox administration.

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