In an report to USA Today, a public records request shows that Vice President Mike Pence frequently used his personal AOL email address to conduct state business while he was governor of Indiana. According to The Indianapolis Star,
Emails released to The Indianapolis Star in response to a public records request show Pence communicated via his personal AOL account with top advisers on topics ranging from security gates at the governor’s residence to the state’s response to terror attacks across the globe. In one email, Pence’s top state homeland security adviser relayed an update from the FBI regarding the arrests of several men on federal terror-related charges.
Pence’s email habits raise two major concerns for cyber security experts, firstly, that private email accounts are much less secure than government accounts. In fact, Pence’s personal account was hacked last June. Secondly, personal emails are not caught on state servers with the same speed when requested for public record. Pence’s current office made a statement on Thursday, downplaying the impact of this new information.
“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.”
The current Indiana administration provided 30 pages from Pence’s account, but “declined to release an unspecified number of emails because the state considers them confidential and too sensitive to release to the public.” While Pence’s use of a personal email was not illegal according to Indiana law, most private emails used for official business are usually retained for public record.
The irony of the situation is that Pence was one of the biggest critic’s of Hillary Clinton when the news of her personal email use leaked during the presidential election, saying:
“What’s evident from all of the revelations over the last several weeks is that Hillary Clinton operated in such a way to keep her emails, and particularly her interactions while Secretary of State with the Clinton Foundation, out of the public reach, out of public accountability. And with regard to classified information she either knew or should have known that she was placing classified information in a way that exposed it to being hacked and being made available in the public domain even to enemies of this country.”
This kind of behavior by government officials is nothing new, but still raises concerns over security and transparency.