The 2016 White House hopeful Hillary Clinton's sole use of a private email account to conduct government business is raising hackles among critics, and experts say it could hurt her run for the presidency.
This week's New York Times uncovered Clinton's use of a private email account and a private server located in her home during her four-year stint as head of the U.S. State Department.
Critics are blasting Clinton over the discovery, arguing that she could have compromised U.S. national security and that she may also have violated U.S. laws governing transparency among public officials.
While it's still very early in the campaign, the real problem is that the scandal re-enforces the perception that the Clintons -- both Hillary and her husband, former President Bill Clinton -- are secretive, experts said.
"It is unprecedented for a high level U.S. official to solely use a personal email to conduct government business. Let alone have her own personal servers in her basement," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua.
"It's a growing pattern for Hillary Clinton of secrecy and lacking transparency," he said.
The message Clinton is sending to the average voter is that the laws do not apply to her, and that could hurt her campaign, as Americans want a candidate to whom they can relate on a personal level, O'Connell said.
"It's the perception of the violation that's going to be more difficult for Hillary Clinton to overcome than the violation itself," he said.