Vice-president under scrutiny for using his personal email account to discuss security issues as Indiana governor, which was compromised by a scammer
Vice-president Mike Pence used a personal email account to discuss security issues as governor of Indiana and was hacked last summer, it was reported on Thursday.
Pences AOL account was compromised by a scammer who sent an email to his contacts claiming Pence and his wife had been attacked on their way back to their hotel in the Philippines, losing their money, bank cards and mobile phone, the Indianapolis Star reported.
In response, Pence sent an email to those who had received the fake communication apologising for any inconvenience, the paper said. He also set up a new AOL account. Because the hacker appears to have gained access to Pences contacts, experts say it is likely that the account was actually penetrated, giving the hacker access to Pences inbox and sent messages.
The revelation comes after a bruising election campaign in which Hillary Clintons use of a private email server while secretary of state was a recurring theme. Commenting on an FBI investigation last September, Pence told NBCs Meet the Press that the Democrat was the most dishonest candidate for president of the United States since Richard Nixon.
But now it is his own email system under scrutiny. The Indianapolis Star said Pence used his personal account to communicate with top advisers on subjects including security gates at the governors residence, efforts to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees and the states response to a shooting at Canadas national parliament building.
In one email, Pences top state homeland security adviser relayed an update from the FBI regarding the arrests of several men on federal terror-related charges, the Star reported.
Not all the emails have been released, however, because some were deemed to be confidential or too sensitive, raising questions over what might content might have been accessed by hackers.
Indiana law does not prohibit public officials from using personal email accounts, the Star added. But it requires all records dealing with state business to be retained and available for public information requests. This would happen automatically with those sent from state servers, but a private account would require Pence to volunteer them.
The vice-president, normally seen as a safe pair of hands alongside the volatile Trump, came under swift criticism on Thursday. Paul Begala, former White House counsel to Bill Clinton, tweeted: Oh, and Pences private email? It was hacked.
Journalist Shaun King, alluding to the chants of Lock her up! that haunted Clinton, posted on Twitter: Lock him up. Lock him up. Lock him up.
Marc Lotter, a spokesman for Pence, told the Star that any comparison was absurd since Pence would not have been dealing with classified information on the level of a secretary of state. Whereas Pence used a consumer email provider, he added, Clinton had a private server installed in her home.
The Star said it received a statement from Pences office that read: 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 Indianas Access to Public Records Act.
Some observers made fun of Pence for using AOL, now seen as old fashioned compared to providers such as Gmail. Pence is the grandpa we all think he is, tweeted Julia Ioffe, a writer at the Atlantic.