ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and some of her predecessors violated the government's policies on email use and records retention, the State Department's Inspector General says.
The department's investigative agency made the conclusion in a report released only to members of Congress and obtained by ABC News. The report examined the email practices of the five past secretaries of state and found that there was "a limited ability to retrieve email records, inaccessibility of electronic files, failure to comply with requirements for departing employees, and a general lack of oversight."
Clinton's campaign for president has been dogged by questions surrounding last year's revelation that she used a private, home-brewed email account during her entire tenure as secretary of state. She has since tuned over many of the emails from her private account, while deleting others she deemed irrelevant to her professional work.
The FBI is investigating the handling of sensitive information on that private email server to determine whether there was any criminal wrongdoing.
The report comes in response to questions from top Democrats on the House and Senate committees of jurisdiction about the email practices of the current and past four secretaries of state and their immediate staff.
About Clinton specifically, the report says she should have preserved federal records she created and received on her personal account, and that sending emails from the personal account to other employees at the department was “not an appropriate method of preserving” federal records.
Secretary of State John Kerry, along with former secretaries Madeline Albright, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, participated in interviews with the inspector general’s office.
Clinton denied a request from the office to be interviewed as part of the report, and her campaign did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, says the report shows that Clinton was not the only secretary to use private email and that she is the only one who has turned them over.
"While Secretary Clinton preserved and returned tens of thousands of pages of her emails to the Department for public release, Secretary Powell returned none," the Maryland Democrat said in an emailed statement. "Republicans need to stop wasting taxpayer dollars singling out Secretary Clinton just because she is running for president."
Cummings also points out that Wednesday's report does not accuse Clinton of a crime.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of that committee, suggested Clinton took advantage of the State Department's lax enforcement of email policy.
"Those weaknesses may have been exploited by department officials for self-serving purposes,” Chaffetz of Utah said in a statement to the press.
ABC News(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) — Donald Trump may now be the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, but that doesn't stop him from reacting to hecklers in the same way he has throughout his campaign.
At a particularly turbulent rally in New Mexico on Tuesday, where demonstrators clashed with police outside of the venue, multiple protesters interrupted Trump during his speech.
Trump used his trademark "Get 'em out!" dismissal for at least one, and brushed off another by declaring it "So exciting!"
Another man's forced exit prompted Trump to go on the offensive. "He can't get a date, so he's doing this instead," he said.
The heckler that caught the most of the Donald's attention was a young boy seen shouting at Trump.
"How old is this kid? Still wearing diapers," he said. "I'm telling you the kid looks like he's 10 years old! I've never seen it."
"I said get out of here and he ran out. It was great! I wish everybody..." Trump said without finishing the sentence.
The real estate mogul and former reality show star is known for mocking and unceremoniously ejecting hecklers at his events.
At a January event in Vermont, he called for a protester to be removed without his coat. Then, in February, he mocked a protester in Massachusetts for his weight.
"You know, it's amazing. I mentioned food stamps and that guy who's seriously overweight went crazy," Trump said.
Nick Hagen for The Washington Post via Getty Images(BRIGHTON, Mich.) — Melissa Gilbert has ended her bid for Congress because of health problems.
The Little House on the Prairie star, who was running as a Democrat for Michigan's 8th congressional district, told People she's "devastated" that her doctors advised her to withdraw from the race.
"My doctors said there's no way for me to continue to deal with the incredibly rigorous demands of a congressional campaign without continuing to do harm to my body," Gilbert told the magazine.
Gilbert, 52, said she needs surgery for two herniated discs in her spine as a result of two head and neck injuries she sustained in 2012.
In April of that year, she suffered whiplash and a concussion after a fall on Dancing with the Stars. Months later, the balcony of a house she was renting in Studio City, California, collapsed over her head.
Gilbert, who had spinal surgery in 2003 to fuse another herniated disc, said the nerve damage resulting from her 2012 injuries has become unbearable.
"I have numbness in my right hand, shooting pains in my right arm and numbness in my neck," she said. "So, after years of care, my neurologists are sending me to a neurosurgeon because I need to have another spinal surgery."
"It's indescribable to have to make this decision because I had my sights set on my opponent and a lot of people around me felt that I could win," Gilbert said about dropping out of the race.
But she isn't ruling out a future run.
"I'm too engaged at this point. I know too much and there is so much that needs to be done in this district and this state and this country," said the former Screen Actors Guild president. "That's why I jumped into the race in the first place."
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- As speculation circulates about whom Hillary Clinton's veep pick would be, Ellen DeGeneres decided to push the process along for the Democratic candidate in a game of "Who'd You Rather?"
As a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Clinton was shown a picture of two people and she had to pick the one she would like as a running mate.
"This is very helpful," the Democratic front-runner joked. "Don't tell anyone because we want it to be a big surprise."
"Oh, Joe!" Clinton said when faced with choosing between Vice President Joe Biden or businessman Mark Cuban.
Clinton then picked Scandal star and Clinton supporter Tony Goldwyn over Biden, and picked Goldwyn once more over fellow candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Later in the game, Clinton was asked to pick between first lady Michelle Obama and DeGeneres.
"Now you have to choose and, obviously, it's me," DeGeneres said in clips that the show released in advance.
"I already offered it to you," Clinton said. "...You turned it down."
Earlier in her appearance on the show, which was taped Tuesday, Clinton was asked about Trump and his comments that he would be good for women.
"I would need a lot more information based on what I hear him say because he has been very derogatory towards all kind of women," Clinton argued, adding, "I think, overall, there is just no evidence that he has an understanding of what women’s lives are like today."
When asked whether Sanders should drop out, Clinton answered, "he has to do what he chooses to do. I understand that."
The full interview is set to air Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET.
ABC News(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) — At his rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Donald Trump took a swipe at the nation’s first — and only — Latina governor, Susana Martinez.
“Since 2000, the number of people on food stamps in New Mexico has tripled,” Trump said Tuesday. “We have to get your governor to get going. She’s got to do a better job, okay? Your governor has got to do a better job. She’s not doing the job. Hey, maybe I’ll run for governor of New Mexico!”
Martinez, a former Rubio supporter who has not endorsed Trump and did not attend his event, is currently chair of the Republican Governor’s Association. And as a Hispanic female, she falls squarely into two voting blocks that have not warmed up to Trump’s message.
In a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, Trump was 14 percentage points behind Hillary Clinton amongst women. Hispanic voters, which make up almost half of New Mexico’s population, prefer Clinton over Trump by a whopping 48 percentage points, according to the most recent WSJ/NBC poll.
Martinez’s name was once floated as a potential Vice President pick for Trump.
United States House of Representatives(WASHINGTON) — Senior level Trump campaign sources confirmed to ABC News Wednesday that House Speaker Paul Ryan will be endorsing presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
It's unclear when the endorsement will take place, but Ryan has a briefing on the House GOP agenda scheduled later Wednesday in Washington.
Its been widely reported that Trump and Ryan haven't seen eye to eye on several issues.
The Wisconsin Republican has frequently condemned Trump's campaign, including his proposed ban of Muslim immigration, and Trump's initial resistance in denouncing the Ku Klux Klan after he was endorsed by former grand wizard David Duke.
In a May 5 interview with CNN, Ryan said he wasn't ready to endorse Trump yet -- despite the billionaire mogul's decisive win in the Indiana primary that knocked out his final two contenders and catapulted him to the status of the GOP's presumptive presidential nominee heading into July's convention.
Trump shot back during an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos that he didn't think the Republican Party needed to be unified behind his candidacy.
After much back and forth, Ryan and Trump finally decided to meet in Washington with Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus also in attendance.
The following week Trump arrived to Washington -- under the swarm of media -- to make a stop to Capitol Hill at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee.
After the meeting took place, Ryan and Trump issued a joint statement calling for Republicans to "unite around our shared principles, advance a conservative agenda and do all we can to win this fall."
However, Ryan still wasn't ready to get behind Trump yet.
ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Sanders campaign has officially requested a recanvass of the vote from the May 17 Kentucky Democratic primary. The goal seems to be earning the one remaining delegate in the neck-and-neck contest.
In a letter to Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes -- a Hillary Clinton supporter -- sent Tuesday and signed by Bernie Sanders himself, Sanders requests a "full and complete check and recanvass of every one of the voting machines and absentee ballots from all precincts in all 120 counties involving the Democratic presidential race from the 2016 primary election."
A press release from Grimes' office confirms she received the request from the Sanders campaign.
“My office is notifying all county boards of elections that Sen. Sanders has requested a recanvass, and we are reminding them of the laws and procedures to be followed,” said Grimes. “As always, we will assist the county boards of elections in any way we can.”
The race has not been officially called, but Clinton leads Sanders by only 1,924. They both earned 27 delegates and Clinton has the support of two additional superdelegates. There is one remaining delegate, and this recanvass seems to be an effort by the Sanders campaign to earn that one delegate, which covers the sixth congressional district. The district in question includes the state's second largest city, Lexington, and the state capital, Frankfort.
A recanvass is not a recount, according to the secretary of state's office. The county boards of elections will convene Thursday morning to "recheck and recanvass the voting machines, per Kentucky law." A recanvass could possibly find human error, but it is unlikely to change anything dramatically in the vote count.
The Clinton campaign says they are aware Sanders wants a recanvass and they're not going to contest him.
"They've been all over the map," an aide said about the Sanders camp and the contesting of the vote. "I'm not sure what the net impact will be going forward."
The campaign also noted that Sanders could use this as a fundraising tactic. "He has a cash flow problem," an aide said, referring to Sanders' recent decrease in donations.
On primary night, Grimes said Clinton was the "apparent winner" and Clinton declared herself the victor, but no official call has been made in the race.
According to the secretary of state's office, the “results of the primaries and election results are not official until the state board of results certifies the results on May .”
ABC/ Ida Mae Astute(NEW YORK) -- Hillary Clinton appears to be taking a three-pronged approach when it comes to Donald Trump.
While campaigning in Los Angeles Tuesday, the Democratic presidential front-runner delivered roughly 40-minutes of remarks in which she hit the Republican presidential candidate on everything from his business record, to his taxes, to foreign policy, to his ego and personality.
The attacks got to the corps of what is likely to be Clinton's general election Trump strategy: Cast Trump as a bad businessman, go after him for being dangerous on foreign policy, and paint him as not being an easy person to work with. (Meanwhile, ignore his attacks against her husband, Bill Clinton.)
Here’s a breakdown of the three approaches Clinton is taking -- and what she said Tuesday to make her case.
Strategy No. 1: Cast Trump as a Bad Businessman
Here’s what she said: Clinton started by accusing the real estate mogul of rooting for the housing market crash during the Great Recession (so “he could take advantage of it to make some money for himself,” she said), and for having failed business ventures. “He has experience in bankruptcy right?” she asked the crowd. "So you know I don’t know if that’s one of the qualifications for running for president, but I kind of doubt it.”
Clinton also called on Trump to release his tax returns and suggested he may have never paid any federal income taxes ever. However, according to New Jersey officials who saw his tax returns, Trump has paid taxes: He paid $18,714 in 1975, $10,832 in 1976 and $42,386 in 1977.
Strategy No. 2: Peg Trump as Dangerous When It Comes to Foreign Policy
Here's what she said: As she often does, Clinton went after Trump for his foreign policy proposals such as banning Muslims from entering the United States and for wanting to build a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border. (Trump has since said that his controversial plan to ban most Muslims from entering the U.S. is "just a suggestion.") She warned that these policies will only backfire. “Loose talk, like a loose cannon, can misfire,” she said.
The former secretary of state continued by saying Trump praised North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un. "He has praised the dictator in North Korea,” she exclaimed. “Although I was kind of struck today when spokesman from North Korea said they are not interested in talking to Donald Trump. I suppose that is a blessing -- I guess, right?” (Trump has only said that he would have "no problem" speaking to the North Korean leader.)
Meanwhile, Clinton talked up her own foreign experience -- going into a detailed account of her role in the raid against Osama bin Laden.
Strategy No. 3: Paint Trump as Being Difficult to Work With
Here’s what she said: Lastly, Clinton accused Trump of having a personality unfit for the president’s office.
“In a democracy you cannot order other elected officials to do something. You have to build a relationship you have to work with them. You can’t say to the senator from some state, 'You’re fired,’” she joked, referring to Trump's famous line on his reality TV show, "The Apprentice." "That’s not the way the government works.”
Earlier, she accused him of speaking without thinking. “You know here’s a person running for president, who calls in to shows and basically says whatever the thought of the day might be,” she said, to laughter. "You know, I mean, call me old fashioned, I think it matters ... what you’re saying when you’re running for president and it really matters when you are president.”
Clinton’s Trump-focused speech came just one day after her potential future opponent brought up Bill Clinton's old sex scandals in an Instagram video. Clinton did not address that video Tuesday.
Charles Ommanney/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Donald Trump has brought up old dirt for his latest campaign moves, mentioning Bill Clinton's sex scandals in an Instagram video posted Monday.
That Trump's campaign started zeroing in on Clinton's history with women may not come as a shock; Trump has been hinting at the former president's past on the campaign trail, and one of his best-known confidants has been doing so for years.
Roger Stone, a close friend and sometime adviser of Trump's, co-authored a book called The Clintons' War on Women, which was published in October.
Trump called Clinton "the worst abuser of women" in an interview with CNN earlier this month and used a similar line during a campaign speech in Spokane, Washington.
He continued, "Hillary Clinton's husband abused women more than any man that we know of in the history of politics, right? She's married to a man who was the worst abuser in the history of politics. She's married to a man who hurt many women."
"Hillary was an enabler, and she treated these women horribly. Just remember this, and some of those women were destroyed not by him but by the way that Hillary Clinton treated them after everything went down," Trump said in the Spokane speech.
Hillary Clinton argued at the time that the women's claims were part of a "vast right-wing conspiracy." She maintained that claim for months during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, but in her 2003 autobiography she conceded, "I might have phrased my point more artfully, but I stand by the characterization of [Kenneth] Starr's investigation."
For her part, Hillary Clinton is avoiding engaging in the back-and-forth. During an interview with CNN in Illinois last week, she was asked if she felt compelled to defend her husband's honor or their relationship. "Not at all," she said. "I know that that's exactly what he is fishing for, and you know, I'm not going to be responding."
Trump's Latest Attack
In the new campaign video released Monday on Instagram, audio of three women's voices can be heard while a picture of the former president is shown over the White House.
Trump did not name the women in the video, but all the recordings used had been publicly released.
The first recording is of Lewinsky, the White House intern who was at the center of the scandal that resulted in Bill Clinton's impeachment and eventual acquittal.
The second is of Kathleen Willey, a former White House volunteer who made accusations against Bill Clinton, and the third is of Juanita Broaddrick, an Arkansas resident who claimed Bill Clinton assaulted her when he was the state's attorney general.
Trump has said he thinks it's necessary to go negative with his campaign.
"I don't like doing that," he said of the Instagram video, "but I have no choice when she hits me on things. I just have no choice, so you have to do it. It's unfair."
Trump, speaking to Fox News' Bill O'Reilly on Monday, said of the Clintons, "You know, they're dirty players, they've been dirty players historically, and I have to fight back the way I have to fight back."
Vince Foster Suicide
Trump also raised questions about the suicide of a Clinton family confidant, deputy White House counsel Vince Foster, who was found dead in what was ruled a suicide in 1993.
Trump was asked about Foster's death in an interview with The Washington Post that took place last week but was not publicly shared until Monday. He brought up decades-old conspiracy theories among some on the far right and far left, calling Foster's death "very fishy."
"He had intimate knowledge of what was going on. He knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide," Trump said, adding, "I don't bring [Foster's death] up because I don't know enough to really discuss it."
Foster's death was ruled a suicide by multiple investigations, including ones conducted by the FBI, the Department of Justice and the United States Park Police. Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr issued a 114-page report in 1997 confirming the outcome of the earlier investigations.
Hillary Clinton's team has not directly responded to the specific claims and has refused to engage Trump on the allegations.
"I think it's bad strategy," Hillary Clinton's campaign spokesman Brian Fallon told Bloomberg on Monday, adding that "it was two decades ago."
Claims by Juanita Broaddrick
Trump has made other efforts to smear his likely general-election opponent. Trump brought up Broaddrick during an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, classifying her claims as "rape."
Broaddrick is heard in the Instagram video saying, "He starts to bite on my top lip as I tried to pull away from him."
That recording is from a 1999 interview she did with "Dateline NBC" in which she detailed what she said happened between her and Bill Clinton in a hotel room in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1978. Broaddrick denied those allegations in a 1998 lawsuit but recanted her denial in 1999.
No criminal charges were ever filed in the case, and Bill Clinton's personal lawyer said her claims were "absolutely false" in 1999 when they were made public.
Kathleen Willey's Claims
Willey was a volunteer at the White House in November 1993 when, she alleged, Bill Clinton assaulted her in the Oval Office. She said he kissed and fondled her. She first publicly disclosed her claims on "60 Minutes" in 1998 during the Lewinsky scandal. In 2007, when Hillary Clinton was first running for president, Willey released a book titled "Target: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton," and she went on Fox News to promote the book.
"No woman should be subjected to it. It was an assault," she said during that interview, the audio of which was repurposed by Trump in his Instagram video.
During the impeachment proceedings, which started in late 1998, Bill Clinton denied ever assaulting Willey. "When she came to see me, she was clearly upset. I did to her what I have done to scores and scores of men and women who have worked for me or been my friends over the years. I embraced her, I put my arms around her, I may have even kissed her on the forehead. There was nothing sexual about it," he said in his testimony.
The U.S. Office of the Independent Counsel had concerns about the veracity of Willey's statements because she had lied to the FBI, and in the office's final report, it said that there was insufficient evidence to think his testimony was false.
The Paula Jones Lawsuit
In 1994, Paula Jones filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Bill Clinton, claiming that in 1991, when he was Arkansas' governor and she was working at a hotel in Little Rock, he propositioned her at a room in the hotel. The case went on for four years and was settled when he agreed to pay her $850,000 to drop the case.
When the agreement was announced, Bill Clinton's attorney Bob Bennett said in a statement, "The president remains certain that the plaintiff's claims are baseless" and "has decided he is not prepared to spend one more hour on this matter." The deal did not include an apology.
"Nothing in this agreement shall be construed to be an admission of liability or wrongdoing by any party," read the agreement.
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who has long called for President Obama to step up efforts to address sexual assault in the military, renewed her call Tuesday for the president to take executive action to help address what she calls a still-pervasive problem in the armed services.
“I'm very frustrated with the White House,” she said during a press conference.
Gillibrand is trying to get cases of sexual assault moved from outside the military justice chain of command to trained, independent military prosecutors.
She said that Obama could call for this change himself, but until then, she would seek to get legislation on his desk that would have the same effect.
“I've spoken to the president directly about this issue and what I'm frustrated about is he is the Commander in Chief. So he could change this rule all by himself,” she said in a press conference about her bill, the Military Justice Improvement Act, which will be voted on as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act bill later this week.
The bill, which has bipartisan support, fell 10 votes short of a 60-vote threshold last year as an amendment to the NDAA, but Gillibrand said she was hopeful that it would pass this time as new information about the military’s treatment of sexual assault had come to light.
She accused the Department of Defense of overstating the work it’s done to crack down on sexual assault and prosecute cases in the past year, citing a review her office conducted of 329 sexual assault cases files from 2014 that found just 22 percent of the cases went to trial and 10 percent of all cases resulted in sexual assault convictions.
“It’s clear from the data and case files the Defense Department has given us that little has changed, despite their persistent claims that things are getting better,” she said.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In the Department of Defense’s report to Congress earlier this month on sexual assault, Acting Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness Peter Levine wrote that while there has been progress within the military to prevent and prosecute sexual assault, “more must be done to eliminate this crime.”
ABC/ Ida Mae Astute(LOS ANGELES) -- Although Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders' California campaign will still center around large-scale campaign rallies over the next two weeks, the campaign has decided to go on the airwaves with a $1.5 million dollar buy.
The ad will start airing in Los Angeles Wednesday, as well as in Fresno and Sacramento.
The 30-second ad shows California farmworkers, scenes of Venice beach and college students contrasted with images of Wall Street.
In the ad, Sanders explains how California has "the power to choose a new direction for the Democratic party.”
ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders argued Tuesday that he's "absolutely not" harming the Democratic Party by staying in the 2016 primary race, but rather "invigorating" the party.
"I don't think I'm harming the Democratic Party," Sanders said in an interview on ABC's The View. "I think I'm invigorating American democracy and invigorating the Democratic Party. The establishment obviously doesn't like it. They would like us to go away and do things in the same old, same old."
The Vermont senator, who continues to battle Democratic rival Hillary Clinton despite her delegate lead, also asserted that he's brought in more voters and suggested that his candidacy has helped the Democratic Party achieve an "unprecedented increase in voter registration among young people, among Latinos."
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- He was the precocious 10-year-old boy in a tuxedo who whispered a question in journalist Diane Sawyer's ear on Inauguration Night 2009. Then, at age 11, he became the youngest journalist to ever interview President Obama.
Now, 18-year-old Damon Weaver adds another title to his already impressive resume: high school graduate.
Weaver graduated from Florida’s Royal Palm Beach High School Monday night. He plans to attend Albany State University in Georgia in the fall on a full-tuition scholarship, which he received as a fifth-grader.
He intends to major in mass communications with a focus on electronic media.
Weaver captured national attention when he reported on the effects of gun violence in his hometown of Pahokee, Florida, on ABC News’ 20/20 in 2009. The question he whispered to Sawyer of ABC News: “What could Obama do to help out Pahokee?”
Weaver asked Obama that question and many others, both light-hearted -- "Do you have the power to make school lunches better?" -- and serious -- "What are you going to do to keep kids like me safe?" in a sit-down interview at the White House in 2009.
Weaver told ABC West Palm Beach, Florida affiliate WPBF-TV that he and the president met several times after the interview.
Weaver said at age 10 that he wanted “to be a journalist, and a football player, and a pilot, and a person who trains whales, and president, and a senator, and a commissioner.” He has narrowed those career ambitions down a bit to the one where he has already found much success: journalist.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Donald Trump has called climate change “a hoax” created by special interests, which negatively affects businesses.
But when it comes to his golf course in Ireland, the presumptive GOP nominee's organization is treating global warming as a real and pressing threat — seeking to protect the course from rising sea levels and increased storm activity caused by climate change.
Trump International Golf Links Ireland, also known as Doonbeg Golf Resort, is seeking permission from Clare County Council in Ireland, to build a limestone sea wall "to protect the golf course and dunes from excessive erosion," according to documents filed by their design and landscape architects and obtained by ABC News.
The application, filed on May 10, 2016, cites climate change as a central justification to undertake the project saying, “The rising sea levels and increased storm frequency and wave energy associated with global warming can increase the rate of erosion, wave damage, coastal flooding, etc.”
The document adds that the area where the golf course along the Atlantic coast is “identified as one area where a coastal erosion is identified as a risk issue.”
An environmental impact statement accompanying the application further details the concern about how global warming could affect the property.
“It has been shown that there has been a steady retreat of the dune line over the past 100 years, with significant losses occurring after major storms,” the statement reads, adding later that, “The evidence for increased storm activity associated with climate change suggests that the erosion will accelerate."
The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.
iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — No more hot-car deaths involving pets.
That's the message three California lawmakers are bringing to the state Assembly Tuesday with the introduction of Bill 797, or "The Right to Rescue Act."
The proposed bill would allow passersby to smash car windows to rescue pets trapped in hot cars.
To drive home the point, Assemblymembers Ling Ling Chang, Kristin Olsen and Marc Steinorth, who drafted the bill, filmed themselves locked inside a car for 21 minutes while the temperature outside was at a sweltering 89 degrees.
"Last week, I sat in a hot car with Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen and Assemblyman Marc Steinorth for over 20 minutes," Chang posted on Facebook Monday. "The inside temperature of the car rose to 108 degrees. I'm proud to co-sponsor legislation to protect pets left in hot cars."
This is no laughing matter in a state that already has a law allowing bystanders to smash car windows to save children. Experts warn that the heat inside a car can rise significantly higher than the temperature outside.
A 2005 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that "vehicles heat up rapidly, with the majority of the temperature rise occurring within the first 15 to 30 minutes. Leaving the windows opened slightly does not significantly slow the heating process or decrease the maximum temperature attained, according to the study.
"Previous studies found that on days when ambient temperatures exceeded 86°F, the internal temperatures of the vehicle quickly reached 134 to 154°F," according to the study.
Assembly Bill 797 has received both praise and skepticism from California residents.
"I'd rather have the ability to do it rather than not do it. It's more important to help the dog than it is to worry about people's feelings," Randall Whittinghill told ABC Los Angeles station KABC-TV
But April Rocha told KABC, "I think some people might take it a little far, like they see a dog in there and go a little nuts. I think it depends on the condition, but I think people may take advantage and go extreme."
Several states, including Florida and Tennessee, already have laws in place that render legal protections to passersby who break car windows to free animals inside hot cars.
The California bill is expected to be introduced during a Humane Society rally in Sacramento, the capital.