According to a USA Today report published Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence regularly used a private email account to conduct business while he was the governor of Indiana, "at times discussing sensitive matters and homeland security issues."
USA Today's Indianapolis Star obtained emails showing Pence routinely communicating 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." Reportedly, one email showed Pence's top state homeland security adviser relaying an FBI update about men arrested on federal terror charges.
Indiana law does not prohibit public officials from using personal email accounts, a main theme of the statement sent from Pence's team to The Star:
"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."
An arguable concern, however, is that while Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb's office released more than 30 pages from Pence's personal account, they reportedly wouldn't consent to releasing all the emails because some are "confidential and too sensitive to release to the public."
"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 Star. "But 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."
Pence's office told the Star his campaign "hired outside counsel as [Pence] was departing as governor to review his AOL emails and transfer any involving public business to the state."
Pence repeatedly criticized Hillary Clinton for her use of a private server and email account while she was Secretary of State. Notably, Pence wouldn't have dealt with as sensitive of issues, nor did he use a private server; however, cyber-security experts did tell the Star Pence's emails were "likely just as insecure as Clinton's."
"In this case, you know the email address has been hacked," Corey Nachreiner, chief technology officer at computer security company WatchGuard Technologies. "It would be hypocritical to consider this issue any different than a private email server."
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