INDIANAPOLIS – Following the official results of the Jasper mayoral election recount – where the race was determined by a single vote – the Indiana Democratic Party today filed an open records request with Governor Mike Pence regarding the involvement of a senior administration official in the recount proceedings.
During formal recount proceedings, Samantha DeWester, Assistant Commissioner for Program Support at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, was listed and participated as co-legal counsel on the recount petition. It remains unclear as to why a member of the Pence Administration was involved in a mayoral recount, prompting the IDP’s formal open records request.
“Hoosiers have the right to know if their governor permits his employees to participate in political projects while clocked in under the taxpayer dime,” said John Zody, Chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party. “For transparency’s sake, Mike Pence and his administration must be open with Hoosiers about Ms. DeWester’s full involvement in this recount, and how actions like this could impact a state agency’s business with local governments. Further, Gov. Pence needs to hold accountable all those who serve in his administration – regardless of where they may fall in seniority.”
In the letter, Chairman John Zody asked for the following:
1. Records that reflect whether Ms. DeWester’s position at IDEM is full-time?
2. Records that reflect any state ethics or agency laws that would have prohibited her involvement in a recount concerning a local election?
3. Records that reflect whether and how Ms. DeWester took leave time to participate in this political proceeding, including, but not limited to, all timesheets and correspondence noting any and all requests and approvals for leave time.
By state law, the Pence Administration must acknowledge the IDP’s request within a 24 hour period following the receipt of the letter. It is our hope that Mike Pence expedites this records request as Hoosiers deserve to know if administration officials engage in personal or political projects on the taxpayer’s dime.