Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2011 (Associated Press).

Then-secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2011. (AP)

A spokesman for Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday that while she used a personal e-mail account during her years as secretary of State, those records have been maintained pursuant to federal rules.

“Both the letter and spirit of the rules permitted State Department officials to use non-government email, as long as appropriate records were preserved,” said Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill. “As a result of State’s request for our help to make sure they in fact were, that is what happened here.”

Merrill responded to a New York Times story saying that Clinton, a prospective presidential candidate in 2016, used a personal e-mail account during her four years at the State Department and “may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record.”

The Times reported that Clinton’s “expansive use of the private account was alarming to current and former National Archives and Records Administration officials and government watchdogs, who called it a serious breach.”

Republicans quickly jumped on the report, calling on Clinton to release all her e-mails.

Republican Party spokesman Michael Short said the story about Secretary Clinton’s private e-mail account “raises serious questions in light of revelations that Clinton’s foundation received donations from corporations and foreign governments while they were lobbying her State Department. And it all begs the question: what was Hillary Clinton trying to hide?”

Merrill said that previous secretaries of State also used private e-mail account to speak with other department officials. “For government business, (Clinton) e-mailed them on their Department accounts, with every expectation they would be retained,” he said. “When the Department asked former Secretaries last year for help ensuring their emails were in fact retained, we immediately said yes.”

State Department officials said that last year they asked representatives of former secretaries of State to submit any records for preservation. Clinton responded with a series of e-mails, some 300 of which were turned over a congressional committee investigating the 2012 attack on a U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya.

“The State Department has long had access to a wide array of Secretary Clinton’s records — including emails between her and Department officials with state.gov accounts,” said State Department spokesperson Marie Harf.

Harf said the State Department “is in the process of updating our records preservation policies to bring them in line with recent 2013 National Archives and Records Administration guidance.”

She added that the current secretary of State, John Kerry, is the first one “to rely primarily on a state.gov email account.”