Citizens Action Coalition sues for state records on Carrier deal

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A complaint filed Friday in Marion County by Citizens Action Coalition alleges that the governor’s office has violated the Indiana Access to Public Records Act by not providing the grass-roots consumer group documents it wants about Vice President and former Gov. Mike Pence’s communications involving Carrier Corp. and United Technologies.

CAC staff attorney Jennifer Washburn sought certain records pertaining to the deal to save approximately 1,000 jobs at a Carrier manufacturing plant in Indianapolis announced in November 2016 by President-elect Donald Trump. Carrier announced in February 2016 it was sending those jobs to Mexico by 2019, which got national attention after a worker posted a recording of the announcement to employees on social media.

Trump often criticized the layoffs during his campaign for president. Just a couple weeks after his election, Carrier tweeted it had reached a deal with Trump and Pence.

Washburn filed a public records request on Dec. 27 seeking communications between Pence’s office, Donald Trump, Donald J. Trump for President, and the Trump Organization from Nov. 14, 2016 through Nov. 29, 2016, that are related to or reference Carrier or related companies, as well as documents involving state entities or employees referencing or relating to Trump or Carrier during the same time period.

The complaint says it was nearly four months until Washburn heard anything about her request other than it was being worked on. A letter from the governor’s office dated April 13 asked her to clarify her request, citing “reasonable particularity” as required under APRA.

Washburn and CAC contend in their complaint that Washburn’s APRA request “identified specific senders and recipients of communications (the Office of Governor, Trump, Carrier), the subject matter (the negotiations between Carrier and then-Governor Pence), in a narrow and specific (November 14-29, 2016) two (2) week time frame.”

A complaint filed with Public Access Counselor Luke Britt yielded a response earlier this month that the matter was not “ripe for the adversarial process” because Washburn had not acceded to the governor’s office’s request that her APRA request “be amended to satisfy legal requirements under APRA.”  

CAC and Washburn contend they don’t need to amend the request because Washburn believes her December request satisfied the reasonable particularity requirement of Indiana Code 5-14-3-3(a)(1).

“By failing to respond to her request in a reasonable period of time, demanding that she amend her already reasonably particular request, and failing to produce the documents responsive to Ms. Washburn’s request in a timely fashion, the Office of the Governor has improperly and contrary to APRA denied Plaintiffs’ request for public documents,” the complaint says.

CAC and Washburn seek a judgment ordering the governor’s office to make available to Washburn the records she sought and to expedite this case. They also seek reasonable attorney fees.

A spokesperson for Gov. Eric Holcomb’s office said they are aware of the complaint and will review it.


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  1. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: Here are the two research papers: 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.