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Indiana to pay firm $100k to handle Pence email requests

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Indiana is paying a law firm $100,000 to help deal with a backlog of public records requests, most of which seek emails from Vice President Mike Pence's tenure as governor, including correspondence routed through a private AOL.com account he used to conduct state business.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb's administration entered a one-year contract last month with Shelbyville firm McNeely Stephenson to handle the "unusually high" number of requests, records show.

More than 50 such requests are pending before Holcomb, who was Pence's hand-picked replacement on the ballot after Donald Trump selected Pence to be his running mate last July.

The vast majority seek correspondence Pence had with staffers and political groups, including emails that were routed through his private AOL.com account, according to documents previously obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request.

The requests are from private citizens, law firms, political parties and news organizations, including the AP.

One factor that has exacerbated the delay is a lack of digital access to Pence's emails. Thirteen boxes containing paper copies of Pence's emails were turned over to the governor's office earlier this year, but a review is ongoing and there may be more records that have yet to be turned over.

Lee McNeely, the firm's managing partner, said the firm is trying to get digital access to the emails, which would speed up the process.

"There's a lot of activity going on. We're working as hard as we can and try to fight our way through it," he said.

Pence spokesman Marc Lotter did not immediately reply to a request for comment Saturday. Last month, he told the AP that "documents relating to Governor Pence's official service to Indiana are being preserved by the state in full compliance with the law."

Pence has touted himself as a champion of a free press and the First Amendment, though he repeatedly stonewalled public records requests as governor, often withholding documents or delaying their release — if not denying them outright.

Earlier this year, Pence's lawyers argued unsuccessfully in a lawsuit that Indiana courts had no authority to force him to comply with public records law.

Pence's AOL account was subjected to a phishing scheme last spring, before Trump chose him to join the Republican presidential ticket. Pence's contacts were sent an email falsely claiming that the governor and his wife were stranded in the Philippines and needed money.

The governor moved to a different AOL account with additional security measures, but he stopped using that personal account after he was sworn-in as vice president, Lotter previously said.

The hacking of Pence's private emails have led some to raise questions of hypocrisy after he frequently attacked Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail over her own email use. He argued Clinton's use of a private server when she was secretary of state could have jeopardized national security if her emails got into the wrong hands.

But Lotter has said charges of hypocrisy are unfair because there is a big difference between the Secretary of State's correspondence about sensitive national matters and business conducted by a governor through a private emails address.

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  1. The voices of the prophets are more on blogs than subway walls these days, Dawn. Here is the voice of one calling out in the wilderness ... against a corrupted judiciary ... that remains corrupt a decade and a half later ... due to, so sadly, the acquiescence of good judges unwilling to shake the forest ... for fear that is not faith .. http://www.ogdenonpolitics.com/2013/09/prof-alan-dershowitz-on-indiana.html

  2. So I purchased a vehicle cash from the lot on West Washington in Feb 2017. Since then I found it the vehicle had been declared a total loss and had sat in a salvage yard due to fire. My title does not show any of that. I also have had to put thousands of dollars into repairs because it was not a solid vehicle like they stated. I need to find out how to contact the lawyers on this lawsuit.

  3. It really doesn't matter what the law IS, if law enforcement refuses to take reports (or take them seriously), if courts refuse to allow unrepresented parties to speak (especially in Small Claims, which is supposedly "informal"). It doesn't matter what the law IS, if constituents are unable to make effective contact or receive any meaningful response from their representatives. Two of our pets were unnecessarily killed; court records reflect that I "abandoned" them. Not so; when I was denied one of them (and my possessions, which by court order I was supposed to be able to remove), I went directly to the court. And earlier, when I tried to have the DV PO extended (it expired while the subject was on probation for violating it), the court denied any extension. The result? Same problems, less than eight hours after expiration. Ironic that the county sheriff was charged (and later pleaded to) with intimidation, but none of his officers seemed interested or capable of taking such a report from a private citizen. When I learned from one officer what I needed to do, I forwarded audio and transcript of one occurrence and my call to law enforcement (before the statute of limitations expired) to the prosecutor's office. I didn't even receive an acknowledgement. Earlier, I'd gone in to the prosecutor's office and been told that the officer's (written) report didn't match what I said occurred. Since I had the audio, I can only say that I have very little faith in Indiana government or law enforcement.

  4. One can only wonder whether Mr. Kimmel was paid for his work by Mr. Burgh ... or whether that bill fell to the citizens of Indiana, many of whom cannot afford attorneys for important matters. It really doesn't take a judge(s) to know that "pavement" can be considered a deadly weapon. It only takes a brain and some education or thought. I'm glad to see the conviction was upheld although sorry to see that the asphalt could even be considered "an issue".

  5. In response to bryanjbrown: thank you for your comment. I am familiar with Paul Ogden (and applaud his assistance to Shirley Justice) and have read of Gary Welsh's (strange) death (and have visited his blog on many occasions). I am not familiar with you (yet). I lived in Kosciusko county, where the sheriff was just removed after pleading in what seems a very "sweetheart" deal. Unfortunately, something NEEDS to change since the attorneys won't (en masse) stand up for ethics (rather making a show to please the "rules" and apparently the judges). I read that many attorneys are underemployed. Seems wisdom would be to cull the herd and get rid of the rotting apples in practice and on the bench, for everyone's sake as well as justice. I'd like to file an attorney complaint, but I have little faith in anything (other than the most flagrant and obvious) resulting in action. My own belief is that if this was medicine, there'd be maimed and injured all over and the carnage caused by "the profession" would be difficult to hide. One can dream ... meanwhile, back to figuring out to file a pro se "motion to dismiss" as well as another court required paper that Indiana is so fond of providing NO resources for (unlike many other states, who don't automatically assume that citizens involved in the court process are scumbags) so that maybe I can get the family law attorney - whose work left me with no settlement, no possessions and resulted in the death of two pets (etc ad nauseum) - to stop abusing the proceedings supplemental and small claims rules and using it as a vehicle for harassment and apparently, amusement.

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