Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Monday told journalists that he's continuing to push for a federal media shield law and told them to press for suspension of the federal health care law.
Pence, a former congressman and radio host, spoke before the Associated Press Media Editors' 80th annual conference, giving broad praise for the role of a free press in a democracy.
"I believe the only check on government in real-time is a free and independent press," he said.
Pence spent a dozen years representing Indiana in Congress before winning election last year as governor. Throughout his run in Washington, he pushed the Free Flow of Information Act as a means to encourage sources and potential whistle-blowers to expose more wrongdoing.
Much of his work came amid the trial of former vice presidential adviser I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and the jailing of New York Times reporter Judith Miller for refusing to reveal the source who disclosed the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. However, Pence said the Obama administration's seizure of AP phone records this past spring as evidence of the need for a law protecting the identity of sources.
"The federal media shield isn't about protecting reporters, it's about protecting the public's right to know," he said.
He also praised the assembled journalists for their work holding the White House accountable on the rollout of the federal health care law and told them to join him and other conservatives in pushing for its suspension.
APME opened its annual meeting in Indianapolis on Monday, decades after the group first launched during a meeting of AP leaders and editors in French Lick, Ind.