Pence Used Personal AOL Account For State Business Including Homeland Security|Featured Image by Ty Wright/Getty Images

Pence Used Personal AOL Account For State Business Including Homeland Security

Is it possible that the shoe is now firmly placed on the other foot? New revelations show that current Vice President, then Governor of Indiana Mike Pence used his personal AOL email account for state business including homeland security. The revelation regarding the high security contents of his personal email has occurred now as many of his emails have been officially released. Yet, some are considered such high security that they are not allowed to be seen by the public. This revelation just comes months after Mike Pence’s continuous attacks on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her use of a personal email server. What information do we know now? When was Mike Pence’s AOL email hacked?

The Indystar has reported that Governor Eric Holcomb, Mike Pence’s successor, released early 30 pages worth of emails from the former Indiana Governor, now United States Vice President. There is currently an undisclosed amount of emails that have not been released because of confidentiality. These emails could be from an attorney, confidential, deliberative, or advisory.

This disclosure has surprised many cyber-security experts and those who have been following Mike Pence’s constant and vicious attacks on the character of Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton for using a personal email server. In September, while on Meet the Press, Pence called Clinton “the most dishonest candidate for president of the United States since Richard Nixon.” He told the viewers of the NBC program that she left herself open to be hacked and made it possible for enemies of the United States to get classified situation.

“What’s evident from all of the revelations over the last several weeks is that Hillary Clinton operated in such a way to keep her emails, and particularly her interactions while Secretary of State with the Clinton Foundation, out of the public reach, out of public accountability. And with regard to classified information she either knew or should have known that she was placing classified information in a way that exposed it to being hacked and being made available in the public domain even to enemies of this country.”

While it does not appear that Hillary Clinton’s private email server was ever hacked, it is clear that Pence’s AOL email was definitely hacked. What sorts of correspondence was in the Pence AOL hacked emails? For example, there was an email from homeland security advisor John Hill regarding efforts to prevent Syrians from moving into Indiana. In this example given to the paper, Hill wrote to Pence on January 8, 2016, in an email under the subject of “Arrests of Refugees.” He was issuing a report on the amounts of refugees arrested an what countries they came from and what terror-related charges were made.

“I just received an update from the FBI regarding the individuals arrested for support of ISIS.”

So exactly when was Pence’s AOL email hacked? During the summer, when the political campaigns became more heated, Pence’s AOL account appeared to be hacked. Cybersecurity experts have explained that last summer, everyone on then Governor Pence’s email list received an urgent email explaining that he and his wife were stranded in the Philippines and in desperate need of funds to return home. This hack is estimated to have occurred in May 2016, as Pence emailed the apology in early June 2016.

Pence reportedly changed the hacked AOL account and sent out a lighthearted email reassuring all of his contacts that he was indeed, still alive and well, and not stranded hopelessly in the island country.

“Although I hear the Philippines is lovely this time of year, you may be relieved to know that we are safely in the Hoosier state and quite well.”

Pence then got serious and apologized to all for the inconvenience.

“All kidding aside, I do apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.”

The fake email that Mike Pence’s family, friends, and political associates received included a promise of the return of monetary funds after he and his wife safely returned from the Philippines.

“I’m urgently in need of some money to pay for our hotel bills and my flight ticket home, will definitely REFUND as soon as back home. Kindly let us know if you would be able to help us out so we can forward you the details required for wire transfer.”

According to the paper, email scamming is the third most reported complaint brought to the Federal Trade Commission. They receive over 350,000 complaints a year.

Is Mike Pence’s AOL email hacked scandal equivalent to Hillary Clinton’s personal email server issue? According to Gerry Lanosga, professor at Indiana University as well as the past president for the Indiana Coalition for Open Government. He believes that Mike Pence hid that he used his personal AOL email for highly sensitive government matters.

“There is an issue of double standard here. He has been far from forthcoming about his own private email account on which it’s clear he has conducted state business. So there is a disconnect there that cannot be avoided.”

What is Vice President Pence’s response to using his hacked AOL email for sensitive government emails? His office in Washington sent a written statement defending Pence.

“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.”

The IndyStar explained that the “Indiana law does not prohibit public officials from using personal email accounts, although the law is generally interpreted to mean that official business conducted on private email must be retained for public record purposes.”

In addition, Marc Lotter, spokesman for Pence insists that there are no comparisons between Pence and Clinton, insisting that as only governor, Pence would not be privy to highly classified information. Yet, there were emails that were classified enough that they could not be disclosed to the public. There is no indication if the paper or anyone else pointed this out or asked any further questions to Lotter. The spokesman seemed to focus on Pence using a well-known internet provider in comparison to Clinton who had a server installed in her home. Yet, Lotter did not acknowledge that AOL has had some major security issues, such as in 2014. Maybe because Lotter is not an expert in these matters?

New York University Tandon School of Engineering computer security professor Justin Cappos does not believe that using an AOL account is advisable for conducting any sort of sensitive business.

“It’s one thing to have an AOL account and use it to send birthday cards to grandkids. But it’s another thing to use it to send and receive messages that are sensitive and could negatively impact people if that information is public.”

Do you think it was appropriate for Mike Pence to be using his AOL account to conduct personal business, including such sensitive issues such as Homeland Security, when he had so harshly criticized Hillary Clinton? Share your comments, views, and concerns below. We want to hear from you!

[Featured Image by Ty Wright/Getty Images]

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