Nearly 550,000 emails were on a hard drive recently delivered to the Maryland State Archives from the office of former Gov. Martin O'Malley.
But don't get excited. Not one comes from the Democrat's private Gmail account, his preferred mode of electronic communication while in office.
Practically every one of the documents on the hard drive is an email to — not from — O'Malley's formal government email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, dating to late 2010.
Timothy D. Baker, Maryland's acting state archivist, said his office began processing the hard drive — and 68,303 emails associated with email@example.com — recently after The Baltimore Sun requested email correspondence between O'Malley and then-Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in the weeks before, during and after the Nov. 4 election.
"Most of them fall into two broad categories," Baker said of the emails.
Those categories are complaints from individuals and event notices from groups. Several emails came written in various languages such as Mandarin, Korean and Farsi. But many were written in the international language of email: spam.
"There is a fair amount of spam," Baker said.
In his formal response to The Sun, Baker wrote: "As requested, we looked at the email for the time period October 19, 2014 through November 20, 2014 and found no email from former Governor O'Malley to former Lt. Governor Brown.
"Our analysis indicates that the email boxes on the data drive we received are emails that were sent to the governor's constituent affairs office. They do not appear to be email that the Governor would have received directly, and they are not emails from the Governor or any of his staff."
As O'Malley considers running for the Democratic nomination for president, presumed front-runner Hillary Clinton has been facing mounting scrutiny for using a private email account to conduct her job as U.S. Secretary of State.
O'Malley used a private email address because the volume — some 10,000 emails per month — was too much to handle amid all of his other professional, personal and political communications, said John Griffin, his last chief of staff. The official address was managed by the governor's constituent service staff, he said.
Now that O'Malley has left office, it would be difficult — if not impossible — to obtain his emails on issues that arose during his two terms.
O'Malley's staff routinely reviewed the governor's messages to respond to Maryland Public Information Act requests, said Griffin. Staff also scanned the emails for any pertinent information required for litigation, legislative or governing issues. Emails were deleted if they were not needed for any of those matters.
"On public email accounts, governors are inundated with emails," Griffin said. "That's one of the major reasons he had the private email account."
Another former chief of staff for O'Malley, Matthew D. Gallagher, said the governor responded to Public Information Act requests whenever they were made.
"The governor regularly replied to public information requests and his emails were reviewed by counsel and produced when required," said Gallagher, now chief executive of the Goldseker Foundation in Baltimore.
That was the case in 2012 when the Democratic former governor provided emails in response to a Public Information Act request filed by Food & Water Watch, a Washington-based environmental group. The emails between O'Malley and Perdue's corporate lawyer showed what the environmentalist group called "a cozy relationship" between the men, who were law school classmates. At the time, the governor was considering farm pollution regulations that concerned the Salisbury-based poultry company.
"I'm guessing you don't have the personal email of governors of [Delaware and Virginia], so let me know when [Secretary of Agriculture] Buddy [Hance] can/should be doing more to help you push stuff," O'Malley wrote to Herb Frerichs, who represented Perdue Farms Inc.