CNN wrote an article about Mike Pence using personal email while he was the Governor of Indiana. The slant of the article makes it look like Pence is a hypocrite for doing what he accused Hillary Clinton of doing. I left those parts out of the quote below, but you can read it on their site.
In included all of the factual statements and reporting on Pence’s email, but noticed a couple of things missing:
CNN – Vice President Mike Pence used a personal email to conduct state business while he was governor of Indiana that was hacked in a phishing scam.
The emails, obtained by the Indianapolis Star through a public records request, show Pence contacted his chief of staff and homeland security adviser about his efforts to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana and the state’s response to a shooting at Canada’s national parliament building.
On January 8, 2016, Pence’s homeland security adviser wrote to the then governor, “I just received an update from the FBI regarding the individuals arrested for support of ISIS.” The subject of the email was “Arrests of Refugees.”
Pence’s email was compromised last spring, according to a Pence official, and emails were sent from his account saying that he was robbed on an overseas trip and he needed money. After the scam was discovered, he set up an entirely new private email account, the official told CNN.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb released just 30 pages of Pence’s AOL emails to The Star. Holcomb declined to release further emails citing an exemption in Indiana’s public records law that allows officials to withhold documents discussing the creation of public policy.
It was not immediately clear if Pence handled classified information on his server, although, as a governor, he would be less likely to do so compared to Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time.
Pence used his personal AOL account to discuss state work periodically from the start of his administration in 2013.
Pence recently hired an outside lawyer to review his emails and submit them to the state, which could then be released or withheld at Holcomb’s discretion.
What CNN doesn’t tell you in this article is that Indiana law doesn’t require public officials to only use government email. Here’s an excerpt from a more thorough and accurate NPR article:
Under Indiana law, public officials are allowed to use personal email accounts… As the Star notes, the law is “generally interpreted” to require public officials to save any emails related to official business in order to follow open records laws. A Pence spokesman says the vice president complied with that requirement.
So it was completely legal for Pence to do this. Why didn’t CNN include this fact?
Further, Hillary didn’t just use a personal email account, she used her own private unsecured secret email server where she compromised national security by allowing classified email to be sent to and from the unsecured server. It doesn’t even compare to Pence legally using private email.
CNN also doesn’t tell you that Pence turned over his emails. You might have inferred that from the fact that his emails were obtained through a public records request and released by the governor, but this is something that Hillary did not voluntarily do. The whole reason she had her own private email server was to control her emails and prevent the public from holding her accountable.
CNN makes it sounds like Pence has now decided to turn over the emails and has hired a lawyer to do so. But look at how NPR represented this:
Responding to reports about the personal email account, the vice president’s press secretary, Marc Lotter, issued a statement saying that just as other governors had done, Pence “maintained a state email account and a personal email account.”
Addressing the question of where those emails are now, Lotter says that as he prepared to work in Washington, Pence “directed outside counsel to review all of his communications to ensure that state-related emails are being transferred and properly archived by the state.”
So basically when he won the election and went from Governor Mike Pence to Vice President Mike Pence, he hired attorneys to ensure he was in compliance with the law and that he’s done what is proper.
Now the ethics of using personal email as a public official is a different conversation and certainly a legitimate one. But it’s clear that Pence didn’t violate the law and that he had turned over his emails as the Indiana statute suggested he should do. He wasn’t trying to hide them from public accountability. Besides, the federal government can easily subpoena emails from a provider like AOL or Google if they needed them. That wasn’t the case for Hillary.