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Michael Richard Pence (born June 7, 1959) is an American politician who served as the 48th vice president of the United States from 2017 to 2021 under President Donald Trump. A member of the Republican Party, he previously served as the 50th governor of Indiana from 2013 to 2017, and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013.
|48th Vice President of the United States
January 20, 2017 – January 20, 2021
|50th Governor of Indiana
January 14, 2013 – January 9, 2017
|Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
January 3, 2001 – January 3, 2013
|David M. McIntosh
Michael Richard Pence
(1959-06-07) June 7, 1959 (age 64)
Columbus, Indiana, U.S.
|3, including Charlotte Pence Bond
|Greg Pence (brother)
|Carmel, Indiana, U.S.
Born and raised in Columbus, Indiana, Pence graduated from Hanover College and then from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law before entering private practice. He lost two House bids in 1988 and 1990 and was a conservative radio and television talk show host from 1994 to 1999. After being elected to the House in 2000, Pence represented Indiana's 2nd district from 2001 to 2003 and 6th district from 2003 to 2013. He chaired the Republican Study Committee from 2005 to 2007 and House Republican Conference from 2009 to 2011. He was elected governor of Indiana in 2012.
As governor, Pence initiated the largest tax cut in Indiana's history and pushed for more funding for private education initiatives. He signed bills intended to restrict abortions, including one that prohibited abortions if the reason for the procedure was the fetus's race, gender, or disability, and required funerary services for terminated fetuses, including those resulting from miscarriage; this law was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge and prevented from going into effect. After Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, he encountered resistance from moderate members of his party, the business community, and LGBT advocates. The backlash against the bill led Pence to approve changes to the law to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and other criteria. He later became the running mate of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who went on to win the 2016 presidential election.
As vice president, Pence chaired the National Space Council following its reestablishment in 2017 and the White House Coronavirus Task Force, which was established in early 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pence and Trump lost their bid for re-election in the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, although Trump's campaign refused to concede, made false or unproven allegations of election fraud and filed many unsuccessful lawsuits in multiple states. Despite Trump's urging to overturn the election results and the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, Pence oversaw the certification of Biden–Harris as the winner of the election.
He has since distanced himself from Trump, endorsing candidates in primary elections in opposition to those supported by Trump and criticizing the latter's conduct on the day of the attack. In June 2023, he launched a bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, but withdrew by the end of October.
Early life and education
Pence was born on June 7, 1959, in Columbus, Indiana, one of six children of Ann Jane "Nancy" Cawley and Edward Joseph Pence Jr., who ran a group of gas stations. His father served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and received the Bronze Star in 1953, which Pence displays in his office along with its commendation letter and a reception photograph. His father was of German and Irish descent and his mother is of Irish ancestry. His paternal grandfather, Edward Joseph Pence Sr., worked in the Chicago stockyards. He was named after his maternal grandfather, Richard Michael Cawley, who emigrated from Doocastle, County Mayo, Ireland, to the United States through Ellis Island and who became a bus driver in Chicago, Illinois. His maternal grandmother's parents were from Doonbeg, County Clare, Ireland.
Pence graduated from Columbus North High School in 1977. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in history from Hanover College in 1981, and a Juris Doctor from the Robert H. McKinney School of Law at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis in Indianapolis in 1986. While at Hanover, he joined the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, where he became the chapter president. After graduating from Hanover, he was an admissions counselor at the college from 1981 to 1983. During his time at Hanover, Pence was a friend of future actor Woody Harrelson, whom he helped prepare to deliver a sermon as part of Harrelson's ministry studies. Harrelson later told late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel that he "'quite liked [Pence]' at the time".
In his childhood and early adulthood, Pence was a Roman Catholic and a Democrat, as was the rest of his family. He volunteered for the Bartholomew County Democratic Party in 1976 and voted for Jimmy Carter in the 1980 presidential election, and has said he was originally inspired to get involved in politics by people such as John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. While in college, Pence left the Catholic Church and became an evangelical, born-again Christian, to the disappointment of his mother. His political views also started shifting to the right during this time in his life, something which Pence attributes to the "common-sense conservatism of Ronald Reagan" with which he began to identify.
Early career and congressional campaigns
After graduating from law school in 1986, Pence was an attorney in private practice. In 1988, Pence ran for Congress against Democratic incumbent Philip Sharp, but lost. He ran against Sharp again in 1990, quitting his job in order to work full-time in the campaign, but once again was unsuccessful. During the race, Pence used "political donations to pay the mortgage on his house, his personal credit card bill, groceries, golf tournament fees and car payments for his wife". While the spending was not illegal at the time, it reportedly undermined his campaign.
During the 1990 campaign, Pence ran a television advertisement in which an actor, dressed in a robe and headdress and speaking in a thick Middle Eastern accent, thanked his opponent, Sharp, for doing nothing to wean the United States off imported oil as chairman of a House subcommittee on energy and power. In response to criticism, Pence's campaign responded that the advertisement was not about Arabs; rather, it concerned Sharp's lack of leadership. In 1991, Pence wrote an essay, "Confessions of a Negative Campaigner", published in the Indiana Policy Review, in which he apologized for running negative ads against Sharp. Pence vowed to refrain from using insulting speech or running ads that belittle his adversaries. Also taking place in 1991, he became the president of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, a self-described free-market think tank and a member of the State Policy Network, a position he held until 1993.
Shortly after his first congressional campaign in 1988, radio station WRCR-FM in Rushville, Indiana, hired Pence to host a weekly half-hour radio show, Washington Update with Mike Pence. In 1992, Pence began hosting a daily talk show on WRCR, The Mike Pence Show, in addition to a Saturday show on WNDE in Indianapolis. Pence called himself "Rush Limbaugh on decaf" since he considered himself politically conservative while not as bombastic as Limbaugh. Beginning on April 11, 1994, Network Indiana syndicated The Mike Pence Show statewide. With a 9:00 a.m. to noon (ET) time slot, the program reached as many as 18 radio stations in Indiana, including WIBC in Indianapolis. From 1995, Pence also hosted a weekend public affairs TV show likewise titled The Mike Pence Show on Indianapolis TV station WNDY. Pence ended his radio and television shows in 1999 to focus on his 2000 campaign for Congress, which he eventually won.
U.S. House of Representatives (2001–2013)
Running for the U.S. House of Representatives again in 2000, he won the seat in Indiana's 2nd congressional district after six-year incumbent David M. McIntosh opted to run for governor of Indiana. The 2nd district (renumbered the 6th in 2002) comprised all or portions of 19 counties in eastern Indiana. As a new congressman, Pence adopted the slogan he had used on the radio, describing himself as "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order". In 2016, House speaker Paul Ryan described Pence as a "principled conservative". While in Congress, Pence belonged to the Tea Party Caucus.
In his first year in office, Pence opposed President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, as well as President Bush's Medicare prescription drug expansion in 2003. Pence was re-elected four more times by comfortable margins. In the 2006, 2008, and 2010 House elections, he defeated Democrat Barry Welsh.
Pence began to climb the party leadership structure and from 2005 to 2007 was chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative House Republicans. In November 2006, Pence announced his candidacy for leader of the Republican Party (minority leader) in the United States House of Representatives. Pence's release announcing his run for minority leader focused on a "return to the values" of the Newt Gingrich-headed 1994 Republican Revolution. However, he lost the bid to Representative John Boehner of Ohio by a vote of 168 for Boehner, 27 for Pence, and one for Representative Joe Barton of Texas. In January 2009, Pence was elected as the Republican Conference chairman, the third-highest-ranking Republican leadership position at the time behind Minority Leader John Boehner and Republican Whip Eric Cantor. He ran unopposed and was elected unanimously. He was the first representative from Indiana to hold a House leadership position since 1981. During Pence's twelve years in the House, he introduced 90 bills and resolutions; none became law. His committee assignments in the House were the following:
- 107th Congress (2001–2003): Agriculture, Judiciary, Small Business
- 108th Congress (2003–2005): Agriculture, International Relations, Judiciary
- 109th Congress (2005–2007): Agriculture, International Relations, Judiciary
- 110th Congress (2007–2009): Foreign Affairs, Judiciary, Select Committee to Investigate the Voting Irregularities of August 2, 2007 (Ranking Member)
- 111th Congress (2009–2011): Foreign Affairs
- 112th Congress (2011–2013): Foreign Affairs, Judiciary
In 2008, Esquire magazine listed Pence as one of the ten best members of Congress, writing that Pence's "unalloyed traditional conservatism has repeatedly pitted him against his party elders." Pence was mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for president in 2008 and 2012. In September 2010, he was the top choice for president in a straw poll conducted by the Values Voter Summit. That same year, he was encouraged to run against incumbent Democratic senator Evan Bayh, but opted not to enter the race, even after Bayh unexpectedly announced that he would retire.
2012 Indiana gubernatorial election
In May 2011, Pence announced that he would be seeking the Republican nomination for governor of Indiana in 2012. Incumbent Republican Governor Mitch Daniels was term-limited. Pence ran on a platform that touted the successes of his predecessor and promised to continue educational reform and business deregulation of Daniels. The Democratic nominee was former Indiana Speaker of the House John R. Gregg. Despite strong name recognition and a popular outgoing governor of the same party, Pence found himself in a heated race, eventually pulling out a close win with just under 50 percent of the vote, and less than 3% ahead of Gregg, with Libertarian nominee Rupert Boneham receiving most of the remaining votes. It was the closest race in 50 years.
Governor of Indiana (2013–2017)
Fiscal and economic policy
Pence "inherited a $2 billion budget reserve from his predecessor, Mitch Daniels, and the state ... added to that reserve under his watch, though not before requiring state agencies, including public universities, to reduce funding in years in which revenue fell below projections." The state finished fiscal year 2014 with a reserve of $2 billion; budget cuts ordered by Pence for the $14 billion annual state budget include $24 million cut from colleges and universities; $27 million cut from the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA); and $12 million cut from the Department of Correction. During Pence's term as governor, the unemployment rate reflected the national average. Indiana's job growth lagged slightly behind the national trend. In 2014, Indiana's economy was among the slowest-growing in the United States, with 0.4 percent GDP growth, compared to the national average of 2.2 percent; this was attributed in part to a sluggish manufacturing sector. Carrier Corp. and United Technologies Electronic Controls (UTEC) announced in 2016 that they would be closing two facilities in Indiana, sending 2,100 jobs to Mexico; the Trump campaign criticized the moves and Pence expressed "deep disappointment". Pence was unsuccessful in his efforts to persuade the companies to stay in the state, although the companies agreed to reimburse local and state governments for certain tax incentives they had received. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation led by Pence had approved $24 million in incentives to ten companies who sent jobs abroad. $8.7 million had been paid out by August 2016.
In 2013, Pence signed a law blocking local governments in Indiana from requiring businesses to offer higher wages or benefits beyond those required by federal law. In 2015, Pence also signed the repeal an Indiana law that required construction companies working on publicly funded projects to pay a prevailing wage. Indiana had enacted right-to-work legislation under Pence's predecessor, Republican governor Mitch Daniels. Under Pence, the state successfully defended this legislation against a labor challenge. In 2013, Pence also announced the formation of the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute, a life sciences research facility supported with $25 million in startup funds from the state.
Pence made tax reform, namely a ten percent income-tax rate cut, a priority for 2013. While he did not get the ten percent cut he advocated, Pence did accomplish his goal of cutting state taxes. Legislators cut the income tax by five percent and also killed the inheritance tax. Speaker of the House Brian Bosma said the legislative package was the "largest tax cut in our state's history, about $1.1 billion dollars". By signing Senate Bill 1, the state corporate income tax would be dropped from 6.5 percent to 4.9 percent by 2021, which would be the second-lowest corporate income tax in the nation. The law also permitted Indiana counties to eliminate the business personal property tax on new equipment and let them exempt small businesses with less than $20,000 worth of equipment from paying personal property taxes.
On June 12, 2013, the Indiana Legislature overrode Pence's veto of a bill to retroactively authorize a local tax. Lawmakers overrode his veto by a 68–23 vote in the House and a 34–12 one in the Senate. Republican legislators overwhelmingly voted against Pence, while most Democrats supported his veto. The Jackson–Pulaski tax fix, one of three bills vetoed by Pence during the session, addressed a 15-year-old county income tax that had been imposed to fund the construction of jail facilities with the stipulation that the tax be lowered by one percent after the first several years. The reduction had not been implemented and thus county residents had been paying an additional one percent tax that they were legally not required to pay. The bill, which was passed by a huge majority of legislators and subsequently vetoed by Pence, allowed money to be kept and not returned to the taxpayers as would have otherwise been necessary.
As governor, Pence pressed for a balanced budget amendment to the state's constitution. He initially proposed the initiative in his State of the State address in January 2015. The legislation passed the state Senate. Indiana has had AAA credit ratings with the three major credit-rating agencies since 2010, before Pence took office; these ratings were maintained throughout Pence's tenure.
In 2014, Pence supported the Indiana Gateway project, a $71.4 million passenger and freight rail improvement initiative paid for by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the federal stimulus package), which Pence had voted against while a congressman. In October 2015, Pence "announced plans to pay off a $250 million federal loan" to cover unemployment insurance payments which had spiked during the recession. In March 2016, Pence signed legislation to fund a $230 million two-year road-funding package.
During his tenure as governor, Pence supported significant increases in education funding to pre-schools, voucher programs, and charter schools, but frequently clashed with supporters of traditional public schools. In 2014, a little over one year after taking office, Pence helped establish a $10-million state preschool pilot program in Indiana and testified personally before the state Senate Education Committee in favor of the program to convince fellow Republicans (several of whom opposed the proposal) to approve the plan. Although the plan was initially defeated, Pence successfully managed to revive it, "getting Indiana off the list of just 10 states that spent no direct funds to help poor children attend preschool". Demand for enrollment in the program "far outstripped" capacity, and Pence at first refused to apply for up to $80 million in federal Health and Human Services Preschool Development Grant program funding, arguing that "Indiana must develop our own pre-K program without federal intrusion." After coming under sustained criticism for this position, Pence reversed course and sought to apply for the funds.
In 2015, Pence secured significant increases in charter-school funding from the legislation, although he did not get everything he had proposed. Legislation signed into law by Pence in 2013 greatly increased the number of students in Indiana who qualify for school vouchers, making it one of the largest voucher programs in the United States. The annual cost of the program was estimated to be $53 million for the 2015–2016 school year.
Pence opposed the Common Core State Standards Initiative, calling for the repeal of the standards in his 2014 State of the State address. The Indiana General Assembly then passed a bill to repeal the standards, becoming the first state to do so. In a televised interview appearance with Chris Matthews, Pence advocated eroding the teaching of science in public schools by putting religious creationism on a par with established science, accepting "creationist beliefs" as factual, and thus "teaching the controversy" over evolution and natural selection, and regarding the age of the Earth, and letting children decide for themselves what to believe.
Despite successful advocacy for more funding for pre-schools, voucher programs, and charter schools, Pence has frequently clashed with teachers unions and supporters of public schooling. In one of his first acts as governor, Pence removed control of the Educational Employment Relations Board, which was in charge of handling conflicts between unions and school boards, from Glenda Ritz, a Democrat who was the Indiana superintendent of public instruction (a separately elected position in the state). Pence created a new "Center for Education and Career Innovation" (CECI) to coordinate efforts between schools and the private sector; Ritz opposed the center, viewing it as a "power grab" and encroachment on her own duties. Pence eventually disestablished the center in order to help defuse the conflict. In May 2015, Pence signed a bill stripping Ritz of much of her authority over standardized testing and other education issues, and reconstituting the State Board of Education dominated by Pence appointees. The bill also allowed the board to appoint a chairman other than the Superintendent of Public Instruction starting in 2017, and added the State Board of Education (controlled by Pence) as a "state educational authority" along with the Department of Education (controlled by Ritz) for purposes of accessing sensitive student data. Pence and Ritz also clashed over non-binding federal guidelines that advised Indiana public schools must treat transgender students in a way that corresponds to their gender identity, even if their education files indicate a different gender.
Energy and environment
During Pence's term in office, the Republican-controlled Indiana General Assembly "repeatedly tried to roll back renewable energy standards and successfully ended Indiana's energy efficiency efforts". Pence has been an outspoken supporter of the coal industry, declaring in his 2015 State of the State address that "Indiana is a pro-coal state," expressing support for an "all-of-the-above energy strategy", and stating: "we must continue to oppose the overreaching schemes of the EPA until we bring their war on coal to an end." In 2015, Pence sent a letter to President Obama denouncing the EPA's Clean Power Plan (which would regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants) and stating that Indiana would refuse to comply with the plan. Indiana joined other states in a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the plan. In 2016, Pence said that even if legal challenges failed, Indiana would continue to defy the rule and would not come up with its own plan to reduce emissions.
In 2014, over the opposition of Indiana school organizations, Pence signed a bill which allows firearms to be kept in vehicles on school property. In 2015, following a shooting in Chattanooga, Pence recruited the National Rifle Association to train the Indiana National Guard on concealed carry. Some National Guard officials from other states questioned why a civilian organization would be involved in a military issue. In May 2015, Pence signed into law Senate Bill 98, which limited lawsuits against gun and ammunition manufacturers and sellers and retroactively terminated the City of Gary's still-pending 1999 lawsuit against gun manufacturers and retailers that allegedly made illegal sales of handguns. The bill was supported by Republicans such as state senator Jim Tomes, who hoped the measure would attract more gun-related businesses to Indiana, but opposed by Gary mayor and former Indiana attorney general Karen Freeman-Wilson, who viewed the measure as "an unprecedented violation of the separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches of state government". In 2016, Pence signed Senate Bill 109 into law, legalizing the captive hunting of farm-raised deer in Indiana.
In 2009, parts of East Chicago were discovered to have toxic lead and arsenic contamination, and were designated a Superfund site. Governor Pence declined to declare the Superfund site a state emergency; his successor Governor Eric Holcomb issued Executive Order 17–13, declaring a disaster emergency in East Chicago. The site of several former lead smelting plants was first identified as a health concern by the EPA in 1997.
Beginning in December 2014, there was an HIV outbreak in Southern Indiana. In 2011, Planned Parenthood (PP) operated five rural clinics in Indiana. They tested for HIV and offered prevention, intervention and counseling to improve public health outcomes. The PP clinic in Scott County performed no abortions. The Republican-controlled legislature and Pence defunded Planned Parenthood. Scott County has been without an HIV testing center since 2013. Pence had long been a vocal opponent of needle exchange programs, which allow drug users to trade in used syringes for sterile ones in order to stop the spread of diseases, despite solid scientific evidence that such programs prevent the spread of AIDS, Hepatitis B (HBV), and Hepatitis C (HCV), and do not increase drug abuse. In March 2015, well after the outbreak began, Pence finally allowed at least five counties to open needle exchanges, but did not move to lift the state ban on funding for needle exchanges. Critics say Pence's compromise had been ineffective because counties had no way to pay for needle exchanges themselves. Anesthesiologist Jerome Adams, then the Pence-appointed Indiana state health commissioner and later surgeon general of the United States during the Trump administration, defended Pence, arguing that publicly funded needle exchange programs are controversial in many conservative communities. During his time as Indiana State Health Commissioner, Adams—along with Governor Pence—delayed Indiana's efforts to deal with the largest HIV outbreak related to injection drug use in the history of the United States by stalling adoption of a needle exchange program. Adams said, "There are people who have real moral and ethical concerns about passing out needles to people with substance abuse problems. To be honest, I shared that sentiment." When President Trump appointed Pence in 2020 to head the country's response to coronavirus, he touted his ostensible experience with quelling an epidemic of HIV in Indiana, in which Pence deliberately delayed his state government's response to the disease despite the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control that needle exchange was an efficacious approach to reining in the spread of diseases. Pence had told lawmakers he would veto any bill they might pass that provided for such exchanges.
In 2015, Pence and the Obama administration agreed to expand Medicaid in Indiana, in accordance with the Affordable Care Act. As part of the expansion, called the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0, Pence negotiated modifications to the program for Indiana that included co-payments by participants. The co-payments are linked to healthy behaviors on the part of the participants so that, for example, a participant who quit smoking would receive a lower co-payment. Participants can lose benefits for failing to make the payments. The required contribution would be about 2% of income. Critics say those who already struggle to buy food and housing will have even more difficulty paying their 2%. One critic expressed concern that lower-income people may stay out of the program or avoid pursuing health care. A service provider said the program "wins the award for bureaucratic complexity and red tape". In early 2017, Indiana submitted its application to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to renew Healthy Indiana, to show that the program was meeting its targets, as required for renewal. National Public Radio/Side Effects Public Media said the application used "misleading and inaccurate information".
Religion and LGBT rights
On March 26, 2015, Pence signed Indiana Senate Bill 101, also known as the Indiana "religious objections" bill or Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), into law. The move was praised by religious conservatives, but criticized by people and groups who felt the law was carefully worded in a way that would permit discrimination against LGBT persons. Such organizations as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the gamer convention Gen Con, and the Disciples of Christ spoke out against the law. Apple CEO Tim Cook and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff condemned the law, with the latter's company saying it would halt its plans to expand in the state. Angie's List announced that they would cancel a $40 million expansion of their Indianapolis-based headquarters over concerns with the law. The expansion would have moved 1,000 jobs into the state. Thousands protested against the policy. Five Republican state representatives voted against the bill, and Greg Ballard, the Republican mayor of Indianapolis, criticized it as sending the "wrong signal" about the state.
Pence defended the law, saying it was not about discrimination. In an appearance on the ABC News program This Week with George Stephanopoulos, he said, "We are not going to change this law," while refusing to answer whether examples of discrimination against LGBT people given by Eric Miller of anti-LGBT group Advance America would be legal under the law. Pence denied the law permitted discrimination and wrote in a March 31, 2015 Wall Street Journal op-ed, "If I saw a restaurant owner refuse to serve a gay couple, I wouldn't eat there anymore. As governor of Indiana, if I were presented a bill that legalized discrimination against any person or group, I would veto it." In the wake of the backlash against the RFRA, on April 2, 2015, Pence signed legislation revising the law to protect against potential discrimination. Pence received heavy criticism from liberals at the time of signing the religious freedom law, who labeled him as anti-gay. In 2018, emails released to the Associated Press showed that conservatives had similarly opposed his support of the subsequent changes to the law.
In March 2016, as Indiana governor, Pence signed into law H.B. 1337, a bill that both banned certain abortion procedures and placed new restrictions on abortion providers. The bill banned abortion if the reason for the procedure given by the woman was the fetus' race or gender or a fetal abnormality. In addition, the bill required that all fetal remains from abortions or miscarriages at any stage of pregnancy be buried or cremated, which according to the Guttmacher Institute was not required in any other state. The law was described as "exceptional for its breadth"; if implemented, it would have made Indiana "the first state to have a blanket ban on abortions based solely on race, sex or suspected disabilities, including evidence of Down syndrome". Days after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction blocking the bill from taking effect, with U.S. district judge Tanya Walton Pratt determining that the bill was likely to be unconstitutional and that the State of Indiana would be unlikely to prevail at trial. The abortion bill was subsequently ruled unconstitutional in April 2018 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Media and the press
On January 26, 2015, it was widely reported that Pence had planned to launch a state-run, taxpayer-funded news service for Indiana. The service, called "JustIN", was to be overseen by a former reporter for The Indianapolis Star, and would feature breaking news, stories written by press secretaries, and light features. At the time, it was reported that the two employees who would run the news service would be paid a combined $100,000 yearly salary. The target audience was small newspapers which had limited staff, but the site would also serve to communicate directly with the public. The publisher of the Commercial Review of Portland, Indiana, said, "I think it's a ludicrous idea ... the notion of elected officials presenting material that will inevitably have a pro-administration point of view is antithetical to the idea of an independent press." There was speculation that the news service would publish pro-administration stories that would make Pence look good in the event of a presidential run.
According to the Associated Press, the idea "of stories prewritten for the media set off a wave of criticism from journalists around the country, who likened the Indiana endeavor to state-run media in Russia and China. Headlines like 'Pravda in the Plains' accompanied calls for Pence to scrap the idea." David A. Graham of The Atlantic regarded the announcement of JustIN as evidence of a disturbing changing trend in how the public gets news. After a week or so of controversy about the idea, Pence scrapped the idea saying, "However well-intentioned, after thorough review of the preliminary planning and careful consideration of the concerns expressed, I am writing you to inform you that I have made a decision to terminate development of the JustIN website immediately."
Syrian refugee crisis
As governor, Pence attempted unsuccessfully to prevent Syrian refugees from being resettled in Indiana. In February 2016, a federal judge ruled that Pence's order to cut off federal funds for a local non-profit refugee resettlement agency was unconstitutional; Pence has appealed. In December 2015, Pence said that "calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional".
Public-records requests and use of private email
Pence "repeatedly stonewalled public records requests as governor, often withholding documents or delaying their release if not denying them outright". As governor, Pence routinely used a personal AOL email account to conduct official business, according to public records. In 2016, hackers compromised the account and used it to send fraudulent emails in an attempt to obtain money from Pence's contacts. While Pence's use of a private email account for state business is not prohibited by Indiana law, some of the emails discussed sensitive matters and homeland security issues. In March 2017, after Pence had become vice president, the State of Indiana released 29 emails to media outlets that had made public records requests, but withheld an undisclosed number of other emails, saying they were deliberative or advisory and thus exempt from public disclosure. Cybersecurity experts and government transparency advocates were surprised by Pence's use of a personal email account to conduct public business, given Pence's past attacks on Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while U.S. secretary of state. In 2017, Indiana hired a private law firm for $100,000 to handle a backlog of public-records requests for Pence's personal AOL account email correspondence.
Re-election campaign and withdrawal
Pence ran for a second term as governor and was unopposed in the Republican primary on May 3, 2016. He was to face Democrat John R. Gregg in a rematch of the 2012 race. However, Pence filed paperwork ending his campaign on July 15, 2016, as Trump announced his selection of Pence as his vice presidential running mate. Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb was nominated in Pence's place, and selected Suzanne Crouch as his running mate. Holcomb went on to defeat Gregg in the general election.