Few things offend Hillary Clinton, it seems, more than government transparency.
Clinton disregarded federal law requiring her to preserve her records as secretary of state, a recent report from the State Department's Inspector General confirms. Hillary also apparently admitted, in one email to her confidante Huma Abedin, that the reason she had set up her own email server was to avoid "access" by federal officials in charge of preserving official records as required by law.
"Secretary Clinton should have preserved any Federal records she created and received on her personal account," the IG's report states, "by printing and filing those records with the related files in the Office of the Secretary. At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service."
She didn't do either of these things, as you probably guessed.
Here's a quick refresher of what Hillary did instead:
Instead of using government-issued email, which is standard for official communications, she set up her own email account, housed in her own server in her personal home in New York. Using a private email account for official business on occasion was neither unprecedented nor prohibited. But Hillary used it exclusively, and kept it secret from the relevant federal authorities.
When she left government, Clinton didn't immediately hand over all official records, and authorities were still unaware of her secret personal server, according to the IG report.
The National Archives and Records Administration only learned she had her own email server when the story surfaced in the media two years after she left, according to the IG report.
After officials learned of the email account in 2014, Clinton finally handed over more than 30,000 emails to State Department officials. But she never handed over all of her emails from her time as secretary: She and her personal attorneys and advisers decided which emails to pass along and which were none of the government's business. She has since deleted many of those not handed over.
One email exchange that the IG found reveals Clinton's attitude towards public records.
Abedin in late 2010 told Clinton that her emails were landing in the junkmail folder of some of her underlings, because she was emailing from an unknown address. "We should talk about putting you on state email or releasing your email address to the department so you are not going to spam."
Clinton wrote back: "Let's get separate address or device but I don't want any risk of the personal being accessible."
Read it closely: "I don't want any risk of the personal being accessible." Clinton wasn't saying she's worried about emails of personal nature leaking out. She was worried about "access" to her "personal" email accounts — the ClintonEmail.com addresses. She didn't want the federal officials who were supposed to have access to her work emails, in order to comply with transparency and freedom-of-information laws, to necessarily have access to all of her work emails.
Much of the media attention on Clinton's emails, and some of the FBI investigation, involve how Clinton handled classified information. Did she put sensitive information in a place where hackers could easily get it?
But the classified information discussion may be a distraction from a more important issue: Clinton's inappropriate secrecy, keeping her emails outside the reach of federal officials and outside the reach of public-records laws. In America the government's business is the people's business — but Hillary Clinton wanted the American people out of her business.
There are two obvious inferences: Either Clinton is hiding something, or she's just paranoid.
We know the Clintons are at least a little bit paranoid. Recall first lady Clinton positing that the rumors of a Bill Clinton affair were really a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.
Recall how after the suicide of White House counsel and longtime confidante Vince Foster in 1993, the Clintons deployed their underlings to comb through his belongings and records. Current Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell actually dug through Foster's trash.
Whatever was there, the Clintons wanted to make sure they got to see it before the authorities did.
Just because she's paranoid doesn't mean she's not also hiding something.
What would a Secretary Clinton have to hide? It's not hard to guess. We know that her State Department work overlapped with the Clinton Foundation's donors and the foreign entities paying her husband six-figure speaking fees. Is there something in those deleted emails she doesn't want us to see?
We know that Clinton's aides boasted of her leading role in the illegal, ill-considered, and ill-fated regime-change operation in Libya. We know she was triumphantly touting U.S. victory in there. We also know the war was a disastrous mistake that has helped the Islamic State and other terrorist groups. What Libya emails did Clinton keep from us?
Transparency is essential to a functional democracy. Congress and various arms of the executive branch have created rules to bring about that transparency. Hillary Clinton broke those rules, in keeping with her career of antipathy for transparency.
This antipathy to a core value is disqualifying in a presidential candidate. It's also a trait she shares with presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has refused to release his tax returns, as presidential candidates traditionally do, and for good reasons.
Democracy needs sunshine in order to flourish. America is in for four years of darkness.
Timothy P. Carney, the Washington Examiner's senior political columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears Tuesday and Thursday nights on washingtonexaminer.com.