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Mike Pence Used a Private AOL Account to Conduct State Business

Vice President Mike Pence used a private email account to conduct public business as Indiana's governor, his spokesman confirmed late Thursday.

In response to an Indianapolis Star story based on public records obtained by paper, Pence spokesman Marc Lotter said: "Government emails involving his state and personal accounts are being archived by the state and are being managed according to Indiana's Access to Public Records Act."

Image: Mike Pence
Vice President Mike Pence Andrew Harnik / AP

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.

Lotter said Pence "maintained a state email account and a personal email account" like previous governors in the state.

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

Lotter said "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.

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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.