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.
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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