US Vice President Mike Pence has defended his use of a personal email account to conduct state business while he was Indiana's governor.
Pence said Friday that "there's no comparison" between his case and the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton during her US presidential election campaign for her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
"There's no comparison whatsoever," Pence said following an event he did with US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan in Janesville, Wisconsin, when asked about whether his situation gave him any sympathy for the Democratic presidential candidate.
Pence, as well as his boss, President Donald Trump, fiercely criticized Clinton throughout the 2016 presidential campaign for her use of a private server and email account during her tenure as head of the US State Department.
Pence communicated via his personal AOL account with top advisers on topics ranging from security gates at the governor's residence to the state's response to terrorism attacks across the globe, the Indianapolis Star newspaper reported on Thursday.
The report said Pence's personal account was hacked last summer in a phishing scam.
Cyber security experts say the hacked emails raise concerns about whether such sensitive information was adequately protected from cyber attacks, given that personal accounts like Pence's are typically less secure than government email accounts.
Indiana law does not prohibit public officials from using personal email accounts, but the law is generally interpreted to mean that government business be conducted on a private account that would be retained for public records.
Furthermore, transparency advocates expressed concerns because personal emails aren't immediately captured on government servers that are searched in response to public records requests.
Pence spokesman Marc Lotter said Pence didn't deal with federally classified information as governor. While Pence used a well-known consumer email provider, Clinton had a private server installed in her home, he said.
But former US President Bill Clinton's adviser, Paul Begala, said Pence was guilty of "staggering" hypocrisy.
"I'm sickened. It's too spectacular. Irony has not only died, it drank a gallon of antifreeze, climbed to the top of the Washington Monument and threw itself off,” Begala told CNN. "There is no more irony in America."