WASHINGTON ― As presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump continues his veepstakes tryouts, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) has emerged as a strong contender to get the nod. On Tuesday, the governor introduced the “Apprentice” star at a rally, offering his unwavering support. The next morning, Trump and his kids swung by Pence’s home for a chat ― presumably about sharing a presidential ticket.
Pence wouldn’t give Trump an important battleground state, and he doesn’t exactly electrify any segments of the electorate that Trump might need to expand his appeal. But he does have one big advantage over the other veep candidates being considered. Unlike with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a vast swath of Pence’s public records have been sealed off from reporters.
Papers from Pence’s time in Congress, spanning 2001 to 2012, are currently housed at Indiana University in Bloomington. According to the library’s website, the collection comprises “23 cartons and approximately 70 GB of electronic records.” But under the donor agreement, the public is forbidden from seeing these materials until either Dec. 5, 2022, or the death of the donor ― whichever is later.
And who is that donor? According to Dina Kellams, IU’s director of university archives, it’s Mike Pence.
“It’s not standard but it’s not unusual,” Kellams said. When former Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) donated his papers, he gave similar restrictions. He has since reconsidered and opened up some sections of his archives, Kellams said. The papers of former Sen. Birch Bayh (D-Ind.) are completely open.
If Pence were tapped as Trump’s vice presidential candidate, his archives could offer an important glimpse into the governor’s experience in Washington ― experience that Trump would most likely rely on if he were to win the presidency. Pence served on various House committees and subcommittees regarding everything from farming to international terrorism to the judiciary. He held leadership posts and was involved in some of the critical legislative battles of this century ― battles that resonate in the current election ― including immigration reform and the Wall Street bailout.
Given Trump’s aversion to releasing his own files, specifically his tax returns, it’s unlikely that Pence would be pressured to open his congressional files should he be added to the ticket. But he could change his mind and do it voluntarily.
“There’s always that possibility,” Kellams said, if the university were able to renegotiate with Pence. But she cautioned that if Trump picks him as a running mate, “it may become less likely that we are able to connect with him to have those sorts of conversations.”
Pence’s communications office did not respond to a request for comment.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist