In an unsurprising feat of irony, although the Trump team spent months and months on end during the election season hammering Hillary Clinton over her usage of a private email server, key members of that team have themselves used private email accounts for official business. Now, in at least one case, their emails are being kept under wraps.
Vice President Mike Pence abandoned his campaign to be re-elected governor of Indiana in order to free himself up to become Donald Trump’s running mate. The untold number of private emails that he left behind in Indianapolis could shine some important light on the man who would become president should Donald Trump vacate the office for whatever reason. However, Indiana state leadership refuses to release a number of these emails, and they won’t say why.
The office of sitting GOP Governor of Indiana Eric Holcomb has declined to even detail what exactly it is that they are refusing to release. The emails that they have released are described by the Associated Press as being “of little substance.” Although a controversy important to understanding Pence unfolded during his time as governor — that of the state’s infamous “religious freedom” law — there is no substantive information about the lead up to the implementation of this law in the emails that have been released.
As Indiana University journalism professor Gerry Lanosga commented:
Not knowing what they are withholding is a big disadvantage to the public. Without at least an index or some detail about what those records are, it’s hard not to be skeptical.’
Adding to the issues for Pence is the fact that state records show that Pence’s own attorneys provided “guidance” to the office of Governor Holcomb on “what could be withheld.” Holcomb spokeswoman Stephanie Wilson claimed that the governor’s office is “independently evaluating” decisions on what to reveal and what to not reveal to the press.
A spokesperson for the vice president unsurprisingly declined to comment on the issue.
In the past, as the AP reports, associates of Pence have addressed allegations of hypocrisy, since, as mentioned, Pence did hit Hillary Clinton time and time again over her private email usage. These aides of Pence claim that “there is a big difference between the secretary of state’s correspondence about sensitive national matters and business conducted by a governor.”
Indiana has a weak public records law that allows records deemed either “advisory” or “deliberative” to be withheld from the public’s eyes; thus, it’s not necessarily as though Pence could be held legally accountable for cooperating so as to keep his emails private.
A searchable electronic database of the emails was only made available to Holcomb’s office in July, at which time the Associated Press reports that state officials “faced a backlog of more than 50 records requests for Pence’s emails from news organization, activists and political parties.”
Adding yet another layer to the controversy is the fact that at least one personal email account belonging to Pence was hacked in early 2016, when a phishing email got sent out to Pence’s contacts falsely claiming that he and his wife were overseas and needed money.
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