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State AG to challenge order for Daniels to testify

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An Indiana judge on Friday ordered Gov. Mitch Daniels to be deposed in two lawsuits over the state's cancellation of a $1.37 billion contract IBM received to modernize the state's welfare system, but the state attorney general said he would challenge the order.

"A deposition of a sitting governor would set a precedent that would have ramifications for the Office of the Governor and all of its future officeholders," Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement. "As Attorney General, is it my legal obligation to ensure that this court order is challenged, and therefore it will be challenged in the appropriate court."

Peter Rusthoven, one of the private attorneys representing the state in the suit, said he believed no Indiana governor had ever been compelled to testify in court.

But Marion Superior Court Judge David Dreyer said a law state attorneys say protects Daniels from testifying is "ambiguous" and excluding Daniels from being deposed would be "illogical," given that the state filed the first lawsuit in the case.

Indiana is suing IBM to recover more than $400 million it paid the company before Daniels canceled the 10-year contract in 2009 amid complaints about the automated welfare system. IBM's countersuit says the state still owes IBM about $100 million.

"It is illogical to find the Statute is intended to allow any governor to apparently make relevant decisions and potentially admissible statements in support of the State's own lawsuit and not be questioned," Judge David Dreyer wrote.

IBM contends Daniels could provide details others couldn't. Indiana's attorneys argued it's common for high-ranking government officials to stay out of civil suits.

"The governor's intent and state of mind are issues of fact in this case," the order said. Without the governor's testimony, both sides could be forced to call other witnesses to speculate about his intent, which would be inadmissible, Dreyer wrote.

"I don't think this will be likely to stand up," Daniels told reporters Friday when asked about the ruling. "This is really not about me or one governor. There's a reason Indiana has had a law for a hundred and some years. Governors wouldn't do anything other than sit around in lawyers' offices if every contract would be subject to a deposition."

Rusthoven said attorneys believe the order is wrong and will ask a court to review it. It was not clear from Zoeller's statement which court he intended to appeal in.

"It's a mistake. It's not about this governor. It's not about this lawsuit," Rusthoven said. "It's about protecting any governor from spending his time having to be involved in lawsuits against the state."

The state Family and Social Services Administration, which is a party to the suit, declined to comment.

IBM spokesman Clint Roswell welcomed the court order.

"We are pleased that Judge Dreyer has agreed we should be able to question Governor Daniels under oath since he was personally involved from the earliest days of this project and was hands-on concerning project management — repeatedly praising IBM's efforts," Roswell said in a statement.

"Judge Dreyer's ruling shows that Governor Daniels cannot avoid answering legitimate questions concerning his key role in the welfare program, especially in light of his often-stated promise of transparency in government," he added.

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  • I believe that if Mitch had a good case, he would want to testify.

    Mitch seems to be hiding behind laws to protect a governor from frivolous suits. This is clearly not a frivolous suit, Mitch started it. Mitch should have wanted to testify so he is correct on his suit. Saying it is not about Mitch but about all governors: well Mitch is good with sound bites.

    The real problem, Mitch gets all the brainless in his party to vote as he says. None have the power to think on their own. We may has well not have a senate and house if none will vote outside Mitch's desires.

    Dupree
  • Why not ask more questions
    Two quick points, why does the state hire outside lawyers, for both the IBM case and the gov's case. Why not ask His Highness when he found out about the 320 mill? Mitch we are not worthy of being yours serfs.
  • Mitch is too busy meeting with Litebox Junior Executive types
    Mitch cannot be interrupted with this tiny measly IBM contract mess.

  • Deposing the Governor
    If my memory doesn't fail me, Rusthoven is wrong. I was in the AG's office from 1987-1989. I remember the AG fighting an attempt to depose Governor Orr and losing that fight.
  • fire him
    he killed our public educational system , return inclusion teachers into the classroom . these politicians simply dont care
  • Daniels to testify
    It's about time Mitch is taken to task on this. The entire IBM/ACS takeover of managing public asssistance is a complete and utter disasater, and NO ONE in the media cares enough to really dig into the matter. IBM's plans stunk, but getting rid of just them did NOTHING to help the situation. It's a huge mess and getting worse all the time.

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