By Pat Kessler

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has never used a state government email account provided to all state employees.

He uses only one address — a personal account on AOL.com. In fact, it’s the same AOL account he set up 15 years ago.

The governor’s office said in a written statement he uses “one email account for his government service, political, and personal emails. He is financially responsible for all costs associated with all of its uses.”

The Dayton administration says his AOL messages to state employees are encrypted when they are received into the state system. And the governor says he’s added two additional spyware programs for added security.

But some lawmakers worry that’s not enough. They say all executive branch workers should be required to use the state government system.

“We probably need to fashion a bill that says, you know, the executive branch needs to do this,” Rep. Peggy Scott, R-Andover, said. “They cannot have a personal account that they do their government interactions on because that lacks transparency.”

The Dayton administration says government emails on his personal account are public under state law, and that it follows the same “delete or save” policies of former Governors Pawlenty and Ventura.

Ironically, emails sent by Minnesota legislators are private. They exempted themselves from data practices laws.

Dayton is not alone in using personal emails for public business. An Associated Press survey found the governors of Oregon, Florida, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Washington also use personal email accounts. And many conduct business on their cell phones, including texting.

State lawmakers say unlike the governor’s office, all of their meetings are conducted in public hearings and in legislative session.

But unlike the legislature, the governor makes his emails public when requested.

Pat Kessler

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