Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Yet More BMV Overcharges Brings A New Leader And New Questions

Gov. Mike Pence announced the Bureau of Motor Vehicles would be getting another leader at a press conference yesterday at which he announced the discovery of another $2 million in illegal overcharges, bringing now the total of overcharged fees discovered to date to $57 million. In all fairness, this problem was inherited by Pence's administration from the Daniels administration, although his administration has been very slow to remedy the problem once it was brought to their attention by the filing of a class action lawsuit. While he lauded the leadership of BMV Commissioner Don Snemis, he announced he was replacing him with Kent Abernathy, who is a Daniels' administration holdover currently serving as IDEM's chief of staff.

I'm somewhat bothered by Abernathy's background for reasons I explain below. Abernathy served as an officer in the U.S. Army before working in the banking industry first in New York and later in Indianapolis where he served as a vice president at JP Morgan Chase. Abernathy returned to active duty in 2003, serving in leadership positions at the Pentagon and in Iraq. He also served as interim Director of CENTCOM's Washington Liaison Office where he served under General Martin Dempsey and Gen. David Petraeus, who was forced out at the CIA after it was learned he had an extramarital affair with his biographer and may have shared classified documents with her. Abernathy retired as a colonel in the Army in 2010. Abernathy obviously had one of the highest of security clearances and probably was in all likelihood attached to the CIA.

Abernathy's movement to the BMV coincides with an announcement last week by the Pence administration that it will end the manufacturing of license plates by state correction inmates. The BMV announced it has awarded a five-year contract to a California-based company, Intellectual Technology, Inc., to make the state's license plates, which it says will save taxpayers $14.4 million dollars, a claim that is hard to believe given the very low wages paid to state prison inmates who currently make license plates. It is my belief that this move is all about big government surveillance and intelligence gathering and has absolutely nothing to do with saving taxpayers money. I believe this company is embedding technology in those license plates to allow the government to spy on every Hoosier. The secretive manner in which the Pence administration made this change, and the placement of a high-level intelligence officer from the Halliburton-driven wars in the Middle East only confirms those suspicions.


Anonymous said...

Indiana is a laboratory in creating the American police state.

I suspect your hunch is correct, and Indiana is being used as a test bed to make incorporate all license materials into the surveillance state.

Indiana is home of the "if you have nothing to hide..." dimwitted idiots.

Anonymous said...

Ignoring the silly stuff about imbedding chips in license plates to spy on us, the executive branch of government always works better when management rises through the civil service ranks instead of being topped into place by political designations. The idea that the CEO of IDEM ought to be able to move seamlessly to head BMV ought to be laughable, but instead, it's commonplace. We've reduced the pay and job security, of civil secants to the point those who might stay are already gone, but our taxes are lower, and too many are shocked that we get why we pay for.

Anonymous said...

Wow, not surprising that the party of "small gov't" wants to continue to expand surveillance on the citizenry.

What better reason to leave the car at home and ride a bike!

Anonymous said...

well, so much for ignoring the crazy stuff...

Gary R. Welsh said...


Wall Street Journal, "U.S. Spies On Millions of Drivers," January 26, 2015:

The Justice Department has been building a national database to track in real time the movement of vehicles around the U.S., a secret domestic intelligence-gathering program that scans and stores hundreds of millions of records about motorists, according to current and former officials and government documents.

The primary goal of the license-plate tracking program, run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, is to seize cars, cash and other assets to combat drug trafficking, according to one government document.

But the database’s use has expanded to hunt for vehicles associated with numerous other potential crimes, from kidnappings to killings to rape suspects, say people familiar with the matter . . .
Many state and local law-enforcement agencies are accessing the database for a variety of investigations, according to people familiar with the program, putting a wealth of information in the hands of local officials who can track vehicles in real time on major roadways.

The database raises new questions about privacy and the scope of government surveillance. The existence of the program and its expansion were described in interviews with current and former government officials, and in documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through a Freedom of Information Act request and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. It is unclear if any court oversees or approves the intelligence-gathering.

A spokesman for Justice Department, which includes the DEA, said the program complies with federal law. “It is not new that the DEA uses the license-plate reader program to arrest criminals and stop the flow of drugs in areas of high trafficking intensity,’’ the spokesman said.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the government’s use of license-plate readers “raises significant privacy concerns. The fact that this intrusive technology is potentially being used to expand the reach of the government’s asset-forfeiture efforts is of even greater concern.’’

Anonymous said...

but what did this guy actually do at IDEM? I mean we know IDEM doesn't do much in this state but why was he even working there. Sounds like a job where he got paid to go to meetings.

Anonymous said...

Many years of republican leadership & this is what we get?

Sir Hailstone said...

Team Samaritan at its best!