After months of attacking Hillary Clinton over her perceived secrecy surrounding emails that no longer exist, Vice President-elect Mike Pence is facing an email scandal of his own following his attempts to hide his office’s conduct after back-and-forth court cases.
In late 2014, Indiana joined a lawsuit aimed at Barack Obama’s executive order to defer deportation for families of American citizens. Pence’s administration made the decision to forego the use of the state attorney general, which would have saved money for litigation, and instead used taxpayer money to fund litigation with a private law firm. Indiana attorney William Groth, in the interest of Indiana taxpayers, filed an open records request in response to that decision in order to determine just how much money Pence had elected to spend on litigation for the case — information that can be found in the very email Pence is trying to hide.
Regarding his own motivation for the case, Groth has stated, “I think joining the lawsuit without the attorney general and hiring that firm was a waste of taxpayer money and the people have the right to know how much of their money was spent.”
A Pence spokesman has maintained that the email should be protected under attorney-client privileges, however, Groth is arguing that because taxpayer funds were used, the matter is no longer private and taxpayers have a right to know how much money Pence diverted for the litigation efforts. Groth has also reasoned that the case sets a precedent for government transparency. He said to the Indystar,
I think governmental transparency is a concern of anyone who lives in a democracy — the governor cannot put himself above the law.”
Putting himself above the law seems to be exactly what Pence intends to do as his lawyers fight to keep the email in question away from the public eye, under only the weak justification of attorney-client privilege. In a situation where the client is state government, however, Groth shouldn’t have too much difficulty in his fight to expose what exactly in those emails is so damning that Pence is willing to go to court in an effort to hide it.
Featured image via The Ring of Fire