La. Gov. Jindal won't release emails from time in office

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Gov. Bobby Jindal's office refused Friday to release any of the Republican governor's emails from his two terms, saying the messages are either protected from disclosure under state law or personal in nature.

The Associated Press filed a public records request seeking the documents from the governor, who is considering a presidential campaign. In a response, Jindal's chief lawyer, Thomas Enright, said he found "no records responsive" to the request since the governor entered office in 2008.

Louisiana law gives the governor broad exemptions from having to disclose records, including exemptions for decision-making discussions, communication with internal staff, security information and his schedule.

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La. Gov. Jindal won't release emails from time in office
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 09: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, talks with Barbara Grassley, wife of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, at the 2014 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, August 9, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 09: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, left, talks with David Young, Republican candidate for Iowa's 3rd Congressional District, at the 2014 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, August 9, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 09: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal appears at the 2014 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, August 9, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 25: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks during the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting Leadership Forum on April 25, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The NRA annual meeting runs from April 25-27. (Photo by John Gress/Getty Images)
Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord Resort in Oxon Hill, MD. This year is the American Conservative Union's 50th anniversary and the theme is 'Getting it Right for 50 Years.' (Pete Marovich/MCT via Getty Images)
BRISTOW, VA -- OCTOBER 29: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal campaigns for Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli in Bristow, Virginia, on Tuesday, October 29, 2013. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) appears on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday, August 25, 2013. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks during The Family Leadership Summit, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks during The Family Leadership Summit, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks during The Family Leadership Summit, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, in Ames, Iowa. The calendar says Iowa's presidential caucuses are more than a year away. But it's never too early for potential GOP presidential candidates in 2016 to court social conservatives in the early-voting state. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks about an injunction request that his lawyer filed, Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014 in Baton Rouge, La. Jindal is seeking to stop the state's use of testing material aligned with Common Core education standards. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal delivers the keynote address during Faith and Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority event in Washington, Saturday, June 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks during the leadership forum at the National Rifle Association's annual convention Friday, April 25, 2014, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks during a rally for South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, who announced her candidacy for a second term at the Bi-Lo Center, Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, in Greenville, S.C. Supporting Gov. Haley were Perry, Bobby Jindal-La. and Scott Walker-Wis. (AP Photo/ Richard Shiro)
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., Friday, March 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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Enright cited those exemptions in the refusal to provide emails, saying Jindal doesn't use email for work outside of communicating with internal staff.

"Aside from email communications with internal staff and emails with family, friends and personal business, Governor Jindal discusses, debates and resolves issues relating to official duties either face-to-face or on the telephone," wrote Enright, the governor's executive counsel.

Another possible GOP presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, released thousands of emails recently from his tenure as Florida's governor. Meanwhile, likely Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton has faced widespread scrutiny for conducting State Department business from a private email account.

When running for office, Jindal campaigned on the need for more transparency in a state with a reputation for political corruption. But under his watch, more state agencies have been claiming their records can be kept secret.

The governor backed legislation in 2009 that rewrote the public records exemption for his office, which for years had a near-blanket exemption. The changes opened the possibility of more access to records in the governor's office, but it also shielded anything considered part of his "deliberative process."

The argument from the Jindal administration was that internal decision-making should be protected to allow the free flow of ideas. Enright repeated the assertion in his letter Friday.

"These content-based exemptions support the environment of open discussion and full analysis necessary for staff to make recommendations to assist the governor in the usual course of the duties and business of his office," Enright wrote.

But the language has been more broadly interpreted than what lawmakers say they intended. Records in departments outside the governor's office have been withheld. Other agencies overseen by Jindal allies have started shielding documents by claiming the privilege and asserting it is established in federal and state case law.

The 6-year-old public records rewrite also extended a new exemption across most state agencies, allowing executive branch departments to hide for six months any budget documents that provide "pre-decisional advice and recommendations to the governor."

A dozen of Jindal's cabinet agencies claimed the exemption in response to public records requests from the AP earlier this year seeking information about the 2015-16 budget.

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