Gov. Mike Pence spent a dozen years in Congress before leaving last year after winning election to his new post. But he apparently has some unfinished business on Capitol Hill.
Pence’s office said Thursday that he has sent a letter to leaders of the U.S. Senate and House urging them to vote on the Free Flow of Information Act that he and then-Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., authored in 2006.
The legislation, known as a media shield bill, would protect journalists from having to reveal their confidential sources in federal court cases, except under certain circumstances involving national security and terrorism. Pence notes in his letter that the bill, approved by the House in 2007 and 2009 but not by the Senate, has been reintroduced this year in both houses of Congress.
“As a conservative who believes in limited government, I know the only check on government power in real time is a free and independent press,” Pence wrote.
He said the Free Flow of Information Act would “ensure that confidential sources remain willing to share information vital to the public interest.”
Pence’s letter comes after President Obama’s administration acknowledged seizing telephone records from The Associated Press and reading the emails of a Fox News reporter. In each case, the Justice Department was investigating government leaks of national security information.
The same day Pence made his letter public, Obama said in a speech that Attorney General Eric Holder will review the Justice Department’s policy about the investigation of leaks to news reporters.
Later Thursday, Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, announced that he has co-sponsored the Free Flow of Information Act, and he made a reference to the Justice Department investigations of AP and Fox News.
“Our great experiment in self-government hinges on freedom of speech and a free and independent press,” Stutzman said in a statement. “This administration’s recent actions have reminded Americans of our ceaseless duty to safeguard this precious liberty. …”