Former general counsel claims Indiana treasurer steered $6M in state contracts to donors

Keywords Law / State Government

The former chief deputy and general counsel in the Office of the Indiana Treasurer has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against state Treasurer Kelly Mitchell and other individuals and private entities, including Ice Miller LLP, alleging more than $6 million in state contracts have been illegally steered to her campaign donors.

The lawsuit — filed by James Holden in Marion Superior Court in July 2020 — was under seal and is currently not accessible on mycase.in.gov. However, Holden’s attorney, Christopher Wolcott of The Wolcott Law Firm in Indianapolis, said the seal has been lifted and the filings should soon be public.

Holden claims Mitchell and others violated the Indiana False Claims Act by entering into contracts without getting approval from the commissioner of the Indiana Department of Administration, the director of the State Budget Agency and the Indiana attorney general.

Between 2015 and 2020, the plaintiff alleges, $6 million in payments were steered through the contracts to Mitchell’s donors.

Ice Miller is the lone law firm among the entities that received contracts and have been named as defendants. According to the complaint, the law firm allegedly was illegally paid $168,377 through a lobbying contract between 2015 and 2019.

The firm has not responded to a request for comment.

According to Wolcott, the Indiana attorney general and the Indiana inspector general have both declined to intervene.

Holden worked as chief deputy treasurer and general counsel for the Indiana treasurer from 2007 to 2011 and from 2012 to 2014. According to the lawsuit, Mitchell terminated Holden after she was appointed state treasurer in November 2014.

He sued for illegal termination and, in August 2017, reached a $92,500 settlement with the treasurer’s office and Mitchell.

This story will be updated.

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4 thoughts on “Former general counsel claims Indiana treasurer steered $6M in state contracts to donors

  1. This makes a pretty good case for turning many current elected offices into gubernatorial nominees subject to State Senate confirmation, just as was done with the secretary of education. There is too much temptation to steer contracts to financial supporters of elected officeholders.

    .

    We don’t elect the national counterparts of these jobs…the president gets to pick his/her own team.

    1. We already have rampant corruption.

      Look at the changes to education policy that benefit the donors behind for-profit charter schools.

      Look at how many legal barriers are enacted to keep small liquor stores afloat. Indiana legislature was OK with Wal-Mart destroying tons of small Indiana downtowns, but liquor stores? Their campaign contributions we have to protect.

      The state of Indiana could really move ahead if they could ban campaign contributions somehow and switch to publicly funded elections. I doubt that would be possible after Citizens United, though, because corporations have been given the right to buy their legislators and their laws.

  2. Consider the source please.
    Mr Holden is notorious for questionable conduct.
    His claims are doubtful at best; hopefully the IBJ will provide context to enable full context on the accusor.

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