- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 24, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad does not use email for state business to avoid potential problems but has a privately-owned BlackBerry to read news clips, his office said Wednesday.

Branstad testified in a legal deposition made public last week that he doesn’t use a personal or official email account, doesn’t send text messages and doesn’t have a smartphone. But he said later in the deposition that he had an application on his “old-fashioned BlackBerry” that allowed him to read emails and struggled to explain how that worked.

Responding to questions about the issue Wednesday, Branstad’s office said the governor was referring to the standard inbox on his personal BlackBerry device. The office said the governor uses the phone to read news clips that are distributed and prepared by aides every morning.

“The governor simply receives news articles on his phone through the ‘Messages’ app to allow him to read what is going on in communities across Iowa,” the office said in a statement. “This allows him to read the news via one app rather than having to navigate to dozens of news outlets’ websites each day.”

The governor also received “a few daily schedules” on the device, the statement said.

Branstad’s office said he doesn’t use the device to conduct state business, noting only two emails have been sent and both appear to be mistaken “pocket replies.” One of them was a blank response, and another went to an email address that doesn’t exist. Branstad uses a personal, rather than a state-owned device, to receive the communications because some of the news clips are campaign-related, the statement said.

Branstad answered questions about his communication habits during a November deposition in a civil lawsuit brought by former Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey. He said he used email when he was president of Des Moines University but decided to stop when he returned to the governor’s office in 2011 after consulting with legal counsel after considering “what had happened previously with other governors.”

“It would probably not be a wise thing, because somebody might send an email that says something derogatory or inflammatory, and I didn’t want that attributed to me,” he said.

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