Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Mitch's Divorce Attorney

The same day Gov. Mitch Daniels announced he would not be seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, Real Clear Politics' Erin McPike had a story talking about the role the ex-wife of Cheri Daniels' second husband was playing in stirring up a media frenzy by offering sordid details behind the Daniels' divorce and the role Cheri played in busting up her own marriage. I was intrigued by a claim she made in her story that Daniels' own divorce attorney had been talking to Washington insiders. McPike wrote:

She's not the only person who warned that details of the split are not the kind of biographical background a presidential candidate likes to deal with during a campaign roll-out. Daniels' own divorce lawyer has privately hinted to some Washington insiders that the particulars of the break-up were so messy that it would indeed be a problem if the two-term governor ran for president.
I wondered at the time who Daniels' divorce attorney was and why he would be talking to Washington insiders about the details of the divorce. A few days later, another local attorney connected to the political scene told me WIBC radio talk show host and high profile Indianapolis lawyer Greg Garrison had represented Daniels in his divorce. That surprised me because Garrison is not particularly known as a divorce lawyer. Fellow blogger Ruth Holladay added her own insights into the Daniels' divorce, explaining that she had read court documents filed in their divorce several years ago while she was still working as a columnist for the Indianapolis Star. "Daniels came across in those records as someone who fought hard to get his ex back and reunite his family; he prevailed," Holladay explained. "But to construe that as a simple happy ending (which, presumably, it is indeed, for simple Hoosiers) would never past the smell test for the aggressive, invasive national media, whose business it is not."

I contacted Holladay and asked her if she could confirm Garrison was Mitch's attorney. Yes, Garrison represented Mitch in the divorce she told me after re-checking her story. "Supposedly  [Cheri] had contacted most of the high-profile divorce attorneys in the city, which made them ineligible to represent him," Holladay recalled. Observers told Holladay at the time Garrison "ripped [Cheri] a new one on the stand." In a follow-up post to her initial musings about Daniels' divorce, Holladay shed more light on the circumstances behind the couple's divorce:
The "new man" in Cheri Daniels life was a former beau she rediscovered during a spa trip to California. He is a medical doctor whose speciality was research.
When Cheri left Mitch and married Husband No. 2, Mitch Daniels did get custody of their four girls -- I am correcting that from a previous post. He got custody, it was not shared. One of the attorneys involved with the case said it was the first time he'd seen a judge rule "on the spot" to grant custody to the father, rather than take that decision under advisement, since it's rare for men to get custody.

Cheri Daniels and No. 2 did move to Indy so she could be closer to the daughters, but No. 2 was unable to find a job; Mitch Daniels made certain of that No. 2 would not find work in this town. Daniels obviously has the connections to make that happen. (He was at Lilly at the time).

I persoally admire Mitch Daniels efforts to reunite his family. My impression is that he held firm in order to win back his wife by refusing to allow the daughters to go West. But he also dated during the time he was divorce, and he also apparently came close to considering a second marriage.

When Mitch Daniels eventually prevailed in his quest to get his ex back, and the Daniels were remarried, friends of Mitch Daniels had a stag birthday party for Mitch. One guest asked what everyone wanted to know: "So why did you remarry Cheri?"

The answer from Mitch: "I always said that if I were to get married again, I said it'd be for money. "I just didn't expect it to be my money!
Holladay paints a picture of Daniels as a very controlling man, which is a view held by many who have tangled with him in the political arena. The supposed deference he was affording to the women caucus in his family may be more about protecting himself from the intensive media scrutiny he knew he would face as opposed to concern for maintaining their personal privacy. Upon reflection, Garrison as Daniels' divorce attorney now makes a lot of sense. What other Indianapolis divorce attorney talks to Washington insiders?


Paul K. Ogden said...

Ruth did a bang up job reporting on this information that no other journalist in the state ever reported.

I agree with your comments.

The irony is that getting the family back together might have helped Daniels on the state political stage, but on the national political stage he would have been better off marrying someone else rather than remarrying Cheri.

Advance Indiana said...

I think there was general agreement among the national political reporters who descended on Indiana in the days leading up to Daniels announcement that he had been treated with kid gloves by the local news media. The only politicians the local news media is tough on are usually the ones who are irrelevant or never stood much of a chance of winning the office they sought.