Pence email scandal deepens: Refuses to release hidden emails, won't answer questions


Mike Pence's obstinance isn't doing him any favors in the growing scandal around his use of a private email account to conduct state business when he was governor of Indiana.

Mike Pence has been under increasing scrutiny for his use of a private AOL email account as governor of Indiana, and for his attempt to hide behind his lawyers when he finally deigned to hand over some of state-related emails.

It wasn't until early August — nearly six months after leaving the governor's office — that Pence finally produced the remaining requested emails, but even then, watchdog groups were doubtful that the public was getting the full story.

"What is the criteria his private law firm used to determine what is private use and what is state use?" Zachary Baiel, the president of the Indiana Coalition for Open Government, wondered at the time.


Two months later, Pence's team has done little to clear things up, and seems entirely uninterested in doing so.

As the Associated Press reported Tuesday, "Indiana officials are refusing to release an indeterminate number of emails" from Pence's private account, and "they’re not saying whether the vice president’s lawyers influenced which messages should be withheld."

The report noted that most of the documents that had been turned over contained "little substance."

"They largely consist of correspondence from staffers sharing press releases or news articles, laudatory notes from Pence’s fans and documents so heavily redacted they’re barely readable," the article states.

And as before, government accountability groups are highly dubious that the public is getting the complete knowledge they deserve.

Nate Jones, a government transparency advocate at George Washington University, noted that it's "hard to justify withholding information" after someone leaves office, and that it makes Pence's office "look like they aren’t subscribing to good open government practices."

As if to confirm that, Pence's spokeswoman declined the AP's request for comment.

As governor, Pence was behind a number of highly controversial issues: the so-called "Religious Freedom Restoration Act," which was little more than an attempt to enshrine into law jargon-laced homophobia; an anti-abortion law that was so extreme, even other anti-choice Republicans called it "dangerous" and warned about the harm it posed to women; his blatant power-grab regarding Indiana's education policy; and his rejection of a request for aid in a lead-poisoning epidemic in East Chicago, Indiana.

These and other issues are matters about which the public has a right to know. And despite an effort to appear to be complying with transparency standards, Pence's office is still refusing to actually do so — and they don't even want to talk about it.

Nor do they want to address the sheer hypocrisy in Pence's use and protection of his private email account, after months and months of haranguing Hillary Clinton for her own use of private email.

Pence may have a softer voice and a calmer demeanor than his boss, but he has never been any better than Donald Trump when it comes to honesty and integrity — or more accurately, the galling lack thereof.

And his continued refusal to be fully accountable to the public about his time as governor makes that abundantly clear.