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Vice President Mike Pence used his personal AOL email account to communicate with top advisers for official business while serving as the governor of Indiana, according to a report by The Indianapolis Star 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 terrorist 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.”
More than 30 pages from Pence’s emails were released by Gov. Eric Holcomb’s office. But details on the files are scant – including whether any pages were omitted because of potentially sensitive material.
“It’s one thing to have an AOL account and use it to send birthday cards to grandkids,” New York University cybersecurity 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, but officials are still expected to retain for public-record purposes any emails sent over such accounts involving official business, according to IndyStar.
Pence’s email account was compromised in 2016 when a scammer sent an email to his contacts claiming that both Pence and his wife were stranded in the Philippines. His office then hired outside counsel to review his AOL emails.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump, Pence, and many of their campaign associates routinely criticized 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.