Email trouble, again

by

Published today in the Indianapolis Star, by Fatima Hussein.

Vice President Mike Pence continues his fight to keep an email that he received as Governor of Indiana out of the public eye. A FOIA request dating to 2014 requests the contents of an email that may divulge the Republican Party’s strategies for methods that were proposed in fighting President Obama’s immigration policies. The battle is now before the Indiana Supreme Court.

Mike_Pence,_official_portrait,_112th_Congress

Mike Pence (R) Governor of Indiana

It is thought that if this case is taken by the Indiana Supreme Court it may redefine the bounds of open public communication with the Governor’s office.

The FOIA request was originated by Indianapolis attorney asking for information about the Governor seeking outside council. The Governor produced the requested documents, but they were heavily redacted. One document, the “white paper” on the Republican Party’s immigration strategy was not included.

Governor Pence successfully won in the court case seeking the document in question, saying the redaction was legal and proper. William Groth, the attorney seeking the documents, is appealing to the Supreme Court with a claim that the lower court erred in its ruling when it determined that the white paper was “deliberative material preparing for deliberation.”

I will leave it to the legal minds here to discuss this, as I know little about FOIA requests and what is redactable and what is not releasable.

About Terry Welshans

I grew up in Burbank, California. My dad worked at a company that made sub assemblies for about every airplane made in the 1960-1970 era, so it was only natural that the aviation bug bit me while I was quite young. I hold a commercial pilot certificate and fly as much as I can. I live in Bardstown, Kentucky with my wife, moving here after we retired. I am a Vietnam veteran and a cancer survivor. I like to keep politicians honest, and do so when they open an avenue where I feel they have erred.
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27 Responses to Email trouble, again

  1. Russell says:

    All records that are non exempt are to be turned over when requested for copying and/or inspection if they are kept in the regular course of business. They need not create a record if none is required, but once that record is created, regardless if it’s in the regular course of business then it must be presented for inspection and or copying at a reasonable time and expense.

    FOIAs intent is to assure access and accountability of its governing bodies. The only exemption are for Highly Classified Documents that would cause a greater harm than good in releasing them. The next class of exemptions are on going law enforcement active investigations. The above you can see why. The next blanket exemption is the courts, I can see where records relating to active cases before the court and deliberations in chambers are exempted.

    In the Judiciary, I would like to have records that do not relate to a case but the administration of the court be able to be FOIAed. All too often the Judges use the “Administration conferences to change how the court works, what attorneys are favored, what attorneys are disfavored, the list is endless.” They purposely call Policy and Administration conferences that over lap. There is no check on Judges except through the ballot box. They have no transparency in place. I think the Sct Judge in WV that ruled in favor of the owner of a coal mine had a conflict in his sitting on the courts opinion. There needs to be openness. Some are off balance and should be removed. That’s my opinion.

    Here is what I googled off of the Internet relating to “Indiana FOIA Governor Exemption”

    The Indiana Open Door Law legislates the methods which public meetings are conducted. … The Indiana Access to Public Records Act is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels. … Access to Public Records Act …

  2. Terry Welshans says:

    Russell, are documents that contain political strategy exempted from FOIA? This seems to be the point in this case. I understand redaction, especially when intelligence sources are named and national security issues. I can give them a pass if names were redacted in the emails, but not facts that are not classified.

    • Russell says:

      My understanding is that the Govenor does not get a pass on Policy. I will tell you in a minute, the legislature consists of the House and Senate, they may hold policy meetings and be exempt from the records requirement, so long as it’s what is called a caucus, as policy interests, house keeping and other matters relating to legislation to be offered, etc.

      Now, my understanding says that the Governor does not enjoy that immunity from disclosure. The governor is the assure that proper legislation is passed and signed into law or veto if it does not and to implement policy that would make the new laws to be placed in use.

      Since it my understanding that the Governor cannot hold a policy meeting and then clam that it is exempt. This can be skirted by never having the required number of staff in the room and it’s not an official meeting.

      Now, here’s the hench pin in the whole FOIA, if the governor were to go to the caucus, then he is exempt as well. But anything put into writing, which was the context of any of those meetings are not exempt. This applies to the Governor, Lt Governor, the Senate and House. So long as it was what was discussed in the meeting. Even though they deny your request, you have remedies and the loser if found in violation has to pay Attorney fees and costs, in most cases it’s a set fee, you get the order you want.

      I hope this helps.

      • Terry Welshans says:

        Thanks Russell.

        We are facing a similar situation here in Bardstown, KY. The Mayor has created much turmoil and is under the scrutiny of the city council. He is refusing to provide FOIA documents and is obstructing an investigation into his suspected wrong doing.In this instance, the Hatch Act may have been violated a a city employee was asked to provide secured documents that anonymously appeared one week prior to council elections and were defamatory to two of the council members seeking reelection. Those documents had the employee’s name at the top. Not real smart.

        Take a look at the Kentucky Standard newspaper, searching for Mayor Royalty. I have a monthly column that you may find amusing as well.

        • Russell says:

          Another way you might want to look at it, but you would need a techie to blend it for you. Does the city council record its minutes by audio only or camera. I am betting that it’s camera and that you can get the tapes/data transferred to a Scan Disc for a nominal charge. They may have given you what you want without knowing it.

          • Terry Welshans says:

            The FOIA was from the city council! It was pertaining to other topics that are under investigation. They have hired a recent State Senator as their investigator and of the three new councilmen, two are past mayors and one was the county attorney. The current mayor is a local businessman who was on the council and unseated the previous mayor. He is an ex-cop, fired from two departments for excessive force and firearms infractions. He has overspent his budget by $335,000 so far this year and the independent auditor gave his the bad news at the last council meeting. The council asked him, the chief of police and city clerk to leave as they went into executive session concerning possible termination of the mayor.

          • Russell says:

            Dang, it sounds like you have your very own Boss Hogg.

  3. Russell says:

    I pulled all of that out of memory, working in the legislature, the governors office and AG. Then went in private practice well armed with procedure.i hope this helps you Terry.

  4. Russell says:

    The mayor has to comply unless it’s an employee issue or exempt under city ordinances, county ordinances or state law. The mayor has no real protection. The office is generally perfunctory.

    I will take a look at the news paper tomorrow. Thanks.

  5. Based on my own experience, they can run but they cannot hide. At least not forever. If there is stonewalling, those making the FOIA request need to pursue it up the ladder. At some point, those trying to keep the information sealed will hit a wall.

    However, there are scofflaws in high places. I see that President Bannon and his assistant, Mr. trump appear to have decided to ignore the court rulings on Executive Orders. If this continues, we have a Constitutional crisis of the first order.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-immigration-courts-idUSKBN15D0XG

  6. ann summers says:

    With respect, it seems that this regime and the GOP now has enough experience with stonewalling that no impeachment will succeed and that only voting majorities that overwhelm voter suppression or some degree of judicial activism (perhaps in a progressive vein) can possibly change the direction we’re headed

    • Russell says:

      Chuck,

      I agree totally.

      Ann, Et Al,

      If the press keeps up the pressure and it seems that all are united with the exception of Faux News and the Brethern. Impeachment is a real possibility. Diplomatic ties with many countries are strained. Just pick a country and they are affected somehow. Russia has turned the media flap as an attack on the Country and relations are lower than before to Cold War. I read that in a Eastern Newspaper. We are embarked upon a no return nation. Even if Trump is gone somehow, the relationships will have the very basic ingredient, trust.

      We need a very basis revolution in congress. This is midterm elections for the house and some senators. No political party will save them from Trump. 39% approval ratings after 41 days in office. The stock market tanked in many ways yesterday. Then to hear the liar say since he has been in office the economy has made 3 trillion, well show me the math. All economic indications show we are heading to a time before Hooverville.

  7. Russell says:

    Trust should be inserted in :

    Even if Trump is gone somehow, the very basic ingredient for diplomatic relationship is gone, Trust.

    • wordcloud9 says:

      Russell –
      Good news! We now have an EDIT function on comments, but it’s in teeny tiny print next to date and time under your name – I’m using it a lot because my arthritic fingers type very badly, not to mention all my brain’s ‘senior moments’

      • Terry Welshans says:

        Great news! My typos are troubling, at least to me. I seem to hit the “Post Comment” button before I am certain they are corrected.

        • Russell says:

          Does the edit function work on mobile devices? I am scratching me head looking for the edits.

          • Edit is only available to writers who have Editor or Administrator status. Regular users who are not on the masthead are contributors, but don’t have Editor privileges. Edit privilege is limited, because Editors have the ability to go into other writer’s stories and edit them as needed.

          • Russell says:

            Well, that settles that.

  8. wordcloud9 says:

    Sorry Russell, I didn’t realize Word Press was discriminating against Commenters!

  9. What immigration policies? Give illegal immigrants a pass when they break the law while making people who want to come over legally wait in line?

    • Russell says:

      Now aren’t you the cool dude, you still roll your cigarettes up on your sleeve? Still have your head Cream in, with your funky pompador?

      Immigration is the cornerstone in which this country was established. Do you consider your statement a reflection of your religious relationship? Or, are you always looking to do until others before they do unto you?

      Just ask yourself, are people better off because of me, or am I as selfish as my self-esteem won’t allow me to be kind to others.

      Do you pay your taxes like Trumpt pays his? Or do you try and stiff creditors like Trump?

  10. By definition illegal immigrant is a person who enters any country outside of their own illegally. Barack Obama gave illegal immigrants a pass, with no congressional leaders holding him accountable. He violated the law multiple times. Who held him responsible? Nobody. Also, what about Hillary Clinton obstructing an investigation into her email server, where in a juvenile manner, she said, “With a cloth or something”? If she did no wrong, she should have just come clean from the beginning.

    • Russell says:

      If you are a Trumpty Dumpty supporter, you need not such a thin skin. Interesting comments though, deflect and show respect to der furher. Propaganda only goes so far with educated people.

      I read an article about trump supporters, most are in the 95% bracket. They are generally less educated.

      Which do you fall into.

  11. Russell, accusing me of having a thin skin is absurd.

  12. Russell says:

    Well, I am not the one deflecting on everyone else. Just stick to the issue at hand.

    In response to your statement, my momma taught me how to think for myself. I wanted to so things that other kids do, her response “well if everyone wanted to jump off a bridge, would you?”

    It’s shown in your statement that you buy into the snake oil salesman propaganda.

  13. Russell, for the record, I pay no mind to people like Alex Jones. He is an ass clown.

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