Vice President Pence Used Private Email Account as Indiana Governor

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Mike Pence

'The Indianapolis Star' discovered, via public records, that he communicated with advisers about security issues through his personal AOL account.

Vice President Mike Pence used a private email account to conduct public business as Indiana's governor, according to public records obtained by The Indianapolis Star.

The newspaper reported Thursday that emails provided through a public-records request show that 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.

The governor moved to a different AOL account with additional security measures, said Pence spokesman Marc Lotter, but he has stopped using the new personal account since he was sworn in as vice president.

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, said the spokesman.

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

On Friday afternoon, Pence addressed his use of the private email account following a speech in Janesville, Wis.

Claiming he was in "full compliance" with state laws, Pence said there's "no comparison whatsoever between Hillary Clinton's practice of having a private servers" and her "mishandling classified information, destroying emails when they were requested by the Congress and by officials."

He added that he had an outside attorney review all of his private email records to identify any that referenced state business or related activities.

"As Indiana laws required, we transferred all of those to the state of Indiana, subject to the public-access laws," he said.

Lotter had said that "the comparison is absurd" because 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 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, said Lotter, adding that any correspondence between Pence's AOL account and any aides using a state email account would have been automatically archived.

March 3, 5:15 p.m. ET Updated with Pence statements.