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Gov. Rauner Hates Email, Loves Communication That Can't Be Subpoenaed

By aaroncynic in News on Feb 25, 2016 9:20PM

Photo credit: John Gress/Getty Images

“Nothing good” comes from using email, says Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner—which is why he chooses not to use it. (The reason can't possibly be because using email leaves behind a record.)

In an interview with NPR Illinois’ Amanda Vinickey, Rauner said that not using it “improved his quality of life dramatically,” and that it “causes all kind of trouble.”

“And people ... send out spams, send emails, copy, forward—nothing good comes from that,” said Rauner.

Rauner said he keeps his conversations to the phone and face-to-face, because he prefers to “look someone in the eye.” According to the Tribune, he has a state-issued cell phone and a personal phone.

Luddite preferences notwithstanding, keeping clear of having conversations—particularly ones that might involve policy, matters of state or general governin’ —over email makes it much easier for him to avoid public scrutiny, as there’s nothing to request via open records laws. Rauner has a history of fighting journalists for access to his public schedule, including FOIA requests from the Illinois Times, Associated Press, Sun-Times and Chicago Reader.

A September ruling by the State’s Attorney General in favor of a lawsuit by the Illinois Times read:

“(T)his office’s review of the redacted entries indicates that they all appear to pertain to the business of the state, rather than the personal affairs or private business interests of the governor. Because the governor’s calendar was prepared and is maintained by the governor’s office and pertains to public business, it is a public record of the governor’s office for purposes of the Illinois FOIA.”

Of course, Rauner has a way around that, which has been to simply write his schedule in code. After losing his fight with The Sun-Times, copies of his schedule provided to the paper simply had initials for meetings with various individuals and no other information, or were left blank if he had no public appearances.