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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - In spite of new staff, the Governor's Office appears to be having trouble keeping track of its mail

"Pence grows communications team following stumbles" was the heading to this long story yesterday by Dan Carden in the NWI Times. A few quotes:

Combined, Pence's [new] messaging team takes home more than $400,000 a year in salaries. Though that total appears smaller in state records because Cleveland is paid by the Office of Technology and Hodgin by the Department of Health, despite working at cubicles less than 200 feet from Pence's desk.

Pence's predecessor, Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, got by with three communications staffers. Republican Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner spends $508,125 a year on six, just one more than Pence, even though Illinois has twice Indiana's population.

The office shake-up follows Pence's inability to defend the "religious freedom" law he enacted March 26 against claims that it licensed discrimination against homosexuals, which prompted a worldwide "Boycott Indiana" movement.

The Republican-controlled Legislature later approved a second measure prohibiting discrimination under the guise of religious liberty, which Pence reluctantly signed and then left the country for several days without speaking to reporters.

The Pence administration has since announced plans to spend up to $2 million in state funds with national public relations firms trying to restore Indiana's reputation as a welcoming state.

ILB: The ILB has learned that, in spite of all this new staff, the Governor's Office appears to be having trouble keeping track of its communications.

On May 26th the Public Access Counselor issued Re: Formal Complaint 15-FC-144; Alleged Violation of the Access to Public Records Act by the Office of Governor Mike Pence. You may access it here. It reads in part:

On April 3, 2015, you made APRA requests to the Governor's Office. You stated you are seeking documents and correspondence relating to the signing of Senate Bill SB-101 [RFRA].

As of the filing of your complaint, the Governor's Office has not responded. Counsel for the Governor's Office replied on April 27, 2015. Despite the tracker stating the request was delivered, counsel contends it was not received by the Office, but rather by the Statehouse mailroom. * * *

While the Post Office tracker states the letter was delivered to the Indiana Statehouse Mailroom, apparently it was never actually received by the Governor's Office. As this Office does not make value judgments as to factual disputes, it is unclear what became of your request. The Governor's Office has made it clear they are willing to respond to your request. Based upon your complaint, I encourage them to do so expeditiously.

The author of the FOIA tells the ILB that his request, which was sent by:
... certified mail, return receipt requested request, was lost between the mailroom. and the governors office (it was addressed directly to the governor.)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 28, 2015 03:54 PM
Posted to Indiana Government