Like the one grandkid at Thanksgiving dinner cursed with a decent grasp of computers, the American political consciousness has become increasingly overwhelmed over the last few years with stories about emails and how certain individuals do or do not understand how they work. The most notable of these, of course, was the Hillary Clinton email scandal, in which the words “private email server”—and not, say, “grab them by the pussy,” or any of the billion or so other objectionable phrases that periodically gush out of the mouth of our current Commander-In-Chief—somehow became 2016’s version of Watergate.
But Hillary Clinton isn’t the only high-profile figure with a blurred line between “public” and “personal” email accounts, apparently, because IndyStar reports that, back when Vice President Mike Pence was governor of Indiana, he frequently conducted state business from his private email account. The IndyStar report buries the lede here though, because the real reveal is not just that the that the governor of a U.S. state once had an email account he conducted private business on hacked, but that the account in question was from AOL. In 2016.
Not to throw unnecessary shade at the millions of Americans who are still Online, but there’s something slightly off about a state governor communicating with the FBI, or discussing security plans for the governor’s mansion, from “MikeyPencils420@aol.com” (or whatever Pence’s personal account actually was.) Security experts have long noted that commercial email accounts like the one Pence used are more open to hacking attempts, and, indeed, his account was successfully targeted in 2016. (Pence later apologized to all of his contacts who were spammed with requests for money after a fraudulent email sent from his account claimed he had been attacked while traveling in the Philippines.)
The other question, of course, is whether Pence complied with Indiana state laws about preserving government-related emails sent from private accounts. According to IndyStar, the governor turned over a number of his AOL emails to the state when he left office, but the private nature of the account makes it impossible to know whether everything was handed over. (Or how many irritating forwards from his aunts and offers for extra hours of dial-up he first had to filter out.) Pence’s office released the following statement earlier today:
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.