Friday, June 06, 2008

Pence Sending Signals To Lake County Folks?

It's probably a bit too early to draw this conclusion, but I have to raise the question if Democratic Attorney General is trying to send a signal to the big law firms and certain political types in Lake County who are upset about the current AG's aggressive stance on fighting corruption there. Specifically, I'm referring to this item in Patrick Guinane's story in the Northwest Indiana Times today:

Democrat Linda Pence kicked off her campaign for state attorney general Thursday by criticizing the current GOP administration for reaching across state lines for help in the civil racketeering case against former East Chicago Mayor Robert Pastrick.

Outgoing Attorney General Steve Carter last year went to the Chicago office of Perkins Coie to enlist Patrick Collins, a former federal prosecutor who helped convict corrupt Illinois Gov. George Ryan. Indiana thus far has paid Collins $317,000 to assist in the attempt to hold East Chicago leaders responsible for $25 million in public money diverted to a 1999 sidewalks-for-votes scheme."

When I'm attorney general, I would review that file extensively," Pence said. "I'd review that case to see how much money the state has paid for lawyers to represent them. And I would also question why they needed lawyers out of state when we should have very capable lawyers in the attorney general's office itself."Carter, who launched the racketeering suit four years ago, has said he hopes to see it go to trial before he leaves office in January. His office defended its hiring of Collins, who signed on at a discounted rate of $395 an hour."

Patrick Collins came highly recommended by the foremost authority on the country's RICO laws, Notre Dame professor G. Robert Blakey," Staci Schneider, a Carter spokeswoman, said Thursday. "It is not unusual for outside counsel to be utilized for complex cases such as the White River fish kill, which has become of interest in these past few weeks."

The late Gov. Frank O'Bannon, a Democrat, hired Pence to lead a state civil suit against a company responsible for White River pollution that killed 5 million fish in 1999. Pence touted the more than $10 million settlement she helped secure on Thursday, saying, "I have punished polluters."

Pence also pledged to pursue public corruption but said she would need to examine the East Chicago case before pledging to continue that fight.

Call me cynical, but it seems to me that Pence invites speculation that she is open to shutting down the Lake County corruption case if she becomes Attorney General. That may be all the people who were seeking to defeat Greg Zoeller at the Republican state convention need to hear to send money her way. It also seems a bit hypocritical for Pence to be criticizing Carter's office for using outside counsel when she made off pretty well during the O'Bannon-Kernan years as an outside counsel for the state. As for hiring an out-of-state counsel, in public corruption cases like this one, it sometimes isn't bad to get someone from the outside who isn't tainted by connections to a legal community which may have interwoven ties to the very people you are seeking to bring to justice.


Unknown said...

Steve Carter has looked the other way on ghost empoyment in the Lake County Prosecutor's Bernard Carter's Office. Contrary to the practice of previous AGs, Steve Carter didn't even bother to have his office do an investigation to before rushing to the defense of Prosecutor Carter when accused of ghost employment. Sorry but your claim Pence wants to defend ghost employment in Lake County sounds a bit empty. We already have an AG that has condoned ghost employment in Lake County.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

Typical democrat.

Chris Worden said...

How many more conspiracies can one man dream up?

Linda Pence's point is either that (a) SHE will handle the cost of such prosecutions as part of her AG salary, OR (b) she'll find somebody IN INDIANA who can. The idea my tax dollars are going to a law firm in Chicago with a DISCOUNTED rate of $395/hour is infuriating. Are we all that stupid in Indiana that we don't have a single lawyer who could handle a political corruption trial? Also, at least when Linda Pence handled the White River fish kill case, she MADE MONEY for the state by getting record fine. Can this Chicago firm say the same thing?