As governor, did Mike Pence use a private email server for homeland security communications?

A report by the Indianapolis Star says the vice president once used a personal email account to conduct public business as Indiana governor, including communications on homeland security.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Mike Pence during a vice presidential debate in October 2016. A report by The Indianapolis Star says that emails provided through a public records request show that Mr. Pence communicated with advisers through his personal AOL account on homeland security matters and security at the governor's residence during his four years as governor.

A White House spokeswoman said Friday that Vice President Mike Pence "did everything to the letter of the law" after public records revealed that he used a private email account to conduct public business as Indiana's governor.

The Indianapolis Star reported that emails provided through a public records request show that Mr. Pence communicated with advisers through his personal AOL account on homeland security matters and security at the governor's residence during his four years as governor.

The governor also faced email security issues. Pence's AOL account was subjected to a phishing scheme last spring, before he was chosen by Donald Trump to join the GOP presidential ticket. Pence's contacts were sent an email falsely claiming that the governor and his wife were stranded in the Philippines and needed money.

As Trump's running mate, Pence frequently criticized rival Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as former President Barack Obama's secretary of State, accusing her of purposely keeping her emails out of public reach and shielding her from scrutiny.

Sarah Sanders, the White House spokeswoman, doubled down on that defense, stressing to reporters on Air Force One that state and federal laws are different and claiming that his efforts to turn over the messages to be archived are "why anybody even knows about the account."

"He did everything to the letter of the law," she said.

Pence spokesman Marc Lotter added that "the comparison is absurd" because Mrs. Clinton had set up a private server in her home at the start of her tenure at the State Department and, unlike Clinton, Pence did not handle any classified material as Indiana's governor.

The governor moved to a different AOL account with additional security measures, but is no longer using the new personal account since he was sworn-in as vice president, Mr. Lotter said.

Lotter said Pence "maintained a state email account and a personal email account" like previous governors in the state. At the end of his term Pence directed outside counsel to review all of his communications to ensure that state-related emails were transferred and properly archived by the state, the spokesman said.

The newspaper reported that the office of Pence's successor, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, released more than 30 pages from Pence's AOL account, but declined to release an unspecified number of emails because they were considered confidential.

Public officials are not barred from using personal email accounts under Indiana law, but the law is interpreted to mean that any official business conducted on private email must be retained to comply with public record laws.

The state requires all records pertaining to state business to be retained and available for public information requests. Emails involving state email accounts are captured on the state's servers, but any emails that Pence may have sent from his AOL account to another private account would need to be retained.

At the end of his term, Pence hired the Indianapolis law firm of Barnes & Thornburg to conduct a review of all of his communications and that review is still ongoing, Lotter said.

Any correspondence between Pence's AOL account and any aides using a state email account would have been automatically archived, he said.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.