The election might be over, but email controversies could stick around for a while. The Indianapolis Star has reported that incoming Vice President Mike Pence is fighting to keep an email from a political ally private. If that seems ironic given the endless insinuations about Hillary Clinton’s email server, it’s because it is.
While governor of Indiana, Pence was sent a position paper by Daniel Hodge, the chief of staff for Texas governor Greg Abbott. Abbott was looking for states to sue the Obama administration over its immigration executive action. Seventeen states, including Indiana, ended up filing a lawsuit against Obama.
But the story doesn’t end there: Pence used outside counsel for Indiana’s lawsuit, hiring Indianapolis law firm Barnes & Thornburg with taxpayer money. In 2014 a labor lawyer named William Groth made a public records request for information on the hiring, looking to determine exactly how much taxpayer money was spent. When Groth obtained the records, Hodge’s paper was redacted.
Now Groth is appealing a decision handed down by Marion Superior Court in April that determined the court couldn’t overturn public access decisions made by Pence’s administration. Pence’s legal team says the email is legal work that is protected by Indiana’s Access to Public Records Act. This is a battle that could conceivably transcend the state of Indiana. The Indianapolis Star piece quotes Indiana University media professor Gary Lanosga on the controversy: “It comes down to this—the court is giving up its ability to check another branch of government, and that should worry people.”
Robert Grand, a managing partner at the law firm Pence hired, has been tapped by Donald Trump as part of his presidential Inaugural Committee. Grand is a major GOP fundraiser and backed Jeb Bush’s candidacy during the Republican primary. In March, after Bush suspended his campaign, Grand told USA Today, “I’m not happy with the way Trump has behaved. But if that’s the will of the people. … Whoever it is, is going to be much, much better than Clinton.”