Vice President Mike Pence used his personal AOL account to email top advisers for official business while serving as the governor of Indiana, according to a report by the Indianapolis Star newspaper on Thursday.
The emails, which were part of a public-records request, discussed matters related to security both local and abroad — from security gates at the governor’s residence, to the state’s response to global terror attacks.
Representatives for Pence released a statement on Thursday:
“Similar to previous governors, during his time as Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence maintained a state email account and a personal email account. As Governor, Mr. Pence fully complied with Indiana law regarding email use and retention. Government emails involving his state and personal accounts are being archived by the state consistent with Indiana law, and are being managed according to Indiana’s Access to Public Records Act.”
Over 30 pages from Pence’s emails were released by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s office, however, details on the files are scant — including whether any pages were omitted due to potentially sensitive material.
“It’s one thing to have an AOL account and use it to send birthday cards to grandkids,” New York University computer security professor Justin Cappos told the newspaper. “It’s another thing to use it to send and receive messages that are sensitive and could negatively impact people if that information is public.”
Public officials are allowed to use personal email accounts under Indiana law, however, it is generally viewed to mean that official business, when conducted with private emails, must be retained for public record purposes, according to IndyStar.
Pence’s email was hacked in 2016, after a scammer sent an email to his contacts claiming that both Pence and his wife were stranded in the Philippines. His office hired outside counsel to review his AOL emails.
During the 2016 election, President Donald Trump and Pence, along with many campaign associates routinely criticised Democrat Hillary Clinton, whose campaign was embroiled in an FBI investigation over her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state.
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