Lawsuit says Mourdock gave chief deputy 3-year contract

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A lawsuit by former Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock's chief deputy challenging his firing claims the official gave him a three-year, $300,000 contract before he resigned from office last year.

The former deputy, Jim Holden, is suing current state Treasurer Kelly Mitchell in Marion County Superior Court, alleging that Mitchell fired him upon taking office.

Holden says that in the final months of Mourdock's term, Mourdock gave Holden a three-year, $300,000 contract as counsel for the Indiana Board for Depositories, which the treasurer's office oversees.

That contract was to take effect on Mourdock's last day in office and cover most of the next treasurer's term, with an automatic extension if Holden was called up to active duty with the National Guard, WIBC-FM reported.

Mourdock, who defeated longtime Sen. Richard Lugar in the 2012 U.S. Senate primary only to lose the general election after a controversial comment about rape, resigned four months before the scheduled end of his term. When fellow Republican Kelly Mitchell was sworn in to replace him, she fired Holden.

Both Holden and Mitchell say in court documents that Mitchell told Holden the contract violated Indiana's conflict-of-interest laws.

Holden contends that he had no official responsibilities with the Board for Depositories and is asking a judge to enforce the contract.

He also said he was called up to active duty with the National Guard the day before Mitchell took office, and contends that's why he was fired.

Deputy attorney general Kelly Pautler rejects that argument in a recent court filing. She said the contract is invalid and Holden was fired over the conflict-of-interest concerns, "among other reasons."

Bryan Corbin, the spokesman for the attorney general's office, said in a written statement the office is representing Mitchell in the lawsuit because she's a state officeholder and in hopes of "protecting taxpayer dollars."

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