Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apologized this week for conducting public business on a private email account.

While we could suggest it’s always better late than never, the presidential candidate might have been more honest by apologizing for a blunder in political strategy.

This scandal has been brewing for months — and Clinton had the opportunity to squash it right from the beginning. After all, the facts concerning her email usage from 2009 to 2012 have not changed. Only Clinton’s response to questions about the facts has changed.

Some political operative or another either gave the secretary bad advice or she ignored one of basic rules in today’s supercharged partisan climate: Divulge everything you know when a scandal threatens to rear its ugly head and let the chips fall where they may. Certainly don’t feed the beast by ignoring it or dismissing it.

We can understand Clinton’s reluctance to address the issue. Conservative Republicans have been rather candid about their aspirations to derail her presidential bid. The secretary still faces congressional grilling for the ninth time about her role in the attack on Benghazi. The inquiries have been relentless with each new panel determined to expose the “truth” regarding how four Americans were killed.

The deadly attack at the U.S. embassy raised many legitimate questions. They have been answered, however, numerous times. But as Clinton’s foes do not like the answers, they continue to beat the dead horse. Why such scrutiny did not materialize over the deliberate lies that led to a war in Iraq — and thousands of U.S. service members’ deaths — is beyond us.

We guess it’s beyond Clinton as well. But her determination not to cede any ground to groundless charges from across the aisle led her to commit a political faux pas in the email incident.

For months, Clinton had clung to the message she had done nothing wrong. She did, and on Tuesday she finally admitted it. Unfortunately, the apology has come in response to falling numbers in a party primary that she seemingly had locked up more than a year ago.

Today, Bernie Sanders and even an undeclared Joe Biden are polling better than the former first lady.

We believe there is plenty of time for Clinton to recover if the public believes she’s the best candidate for the White House.

We would hope, however, she has learned her lesson. The GOP attack dogs are still circling — and will snap wherever they sense guard has been let down.

More importantly, we would hope governmental bodies at all levels recognize the inherent dangers of blending professional and personal emails. There are many others in federal office and in Kansas’ highest positions who steadfastly defend using personal accounts.

That practice must stop. Open records laws and transparency should be enough justification. Once national security enters the picture, there should not be any question.

plowry@dailynews.net

Editorial by Patrick Lowry