'Pence used personal email as Indiana governor'

Indo Asian News Service

Washington, March 3 (IANS) US Vice President Mike Pence routinely used a private email account to conduct public business when he was Governor of Indiana, at times discussing sensitive matters and homeland security issues, a media report said.

According to a report in the Indianapolis Star newspaper on Thursday, Pence used his personal AOL email account to communicate with top advisers on matters ranging from the security gates at the Governor's residence to the state's response to terrorist attacks across the globe.

Pence's use of personal email to conduct public business echoed Hillary Clinton's use of a private server and email account when she was Secretary of State. That practice was the subject of investigations and drew considerable criticism.

In an appearance on "Meet the Press" in September last year, Pence, who took office as Governor in 2013, said Clinton had used the private server to keep her emails "out of the public reach, out of public accountability."

Pence spokesman Marc Lotter called any comparisons between Pence and Clinton "absurd", noting that Pence didn't deal with federally-classified information as Governor.

While Pence used a well-known consumer email provider, Clinton had a private server installed in her home, he was quoted by The Star as saying.

The office of Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb released 29 pages of emails from Pence's AOL account, but declined to release an unspecified number of others, saying they are confidential, according to the report.

Security experts said the use of a personal email account raised concerns about whether sensitive information was properly protected, given that such accounts are typically less secure than government ones.

The Star reported that Pence's personal account was compromised last year by a scammer who sent an email to his contacts claiming that Pence and his wife were stranded in the Philippines and urgently needed money.

Pence sent an email apologising to those who had received the fake message and set up a new AOL account.

The hack appeared to be part of a broad attack, not directed at Pence specifically, the newspaper reported.

Indiana law requires that records related to state business be retained and available in response to public records requests. While emails on state accounts would be captured by state computer servers, messages sent on a private account would be hidden unless steps were taken to make them available.

The Star quoted a statement released by the Vice President's office in Washington that said Pence had maintained state and personal email accounts.

"As Governor, Pence fully complied with Indiana law regarding email use and retention," the statement said.

"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," it said.