Earlier this year, the State of Indiana completed the settlement
of lawsuit which claimed that former Chief Deputy and General Counsel for the
Indiana State Treasurer’s Office Jim Holden had been wrongfully terminated from
On June 2, 2014, Holden had
been given a three-year contract by then Treasurer Richard Mourdock to provide
legal services for the Indiana Board for Depositories, a body that is overseen
by the State Treasurer.
served as manager of Mourdock’s Senate campaign in 2012, which campaign shocked
the political world by knocking off incumbent Richard Lugar in the GOP primary
only to lose to Democrat Joe Donnelly later that Fall.
Almost two years later, Mourdock resigned
before the end of his four-year term.
Kelly Mitchell was subsequently elected Treasurer that Fall and took
office early, replacing the
interim Treasurer, on November 18, 2014.
One of Kelly’s first moves as Treasurer was to terminate
Holden from his job at the Treasurer’s Office and cancel his three year contract,
even though Holden had been called up to active duty and had not yet transferred
from his position in the Treasurer’s Office to working for the Board. Mitchell claimed that the termination was
necessary because there was a conflict of interest in the Holden appointment
because the Treasurer of the State directed the day-to-day activities of the
Indiana Board for Depositories.
Holden was accused of not having received a clearance from the State Ethics
Commission or making any of the required ethics disclosure, Holden had, in fact,
consulted the Executive Director of the Indiana Ethics Commission and filed a
Uniform Conflict of Interest Ethics Disclosure about the employment.
An unemployment insurance state
administrative law judge found Holden had “exercised all due diligence to
ensure the employment was not a conflict of interest.”
In her termination decision, Mitchell also accused Holden of
committing a felony by violating IC 35-44-1-3, a statute which criminalizes
certain conflicts of interest by public officials.
That statute, however, had been repealed.
As part of the settlement, Mitchell issued a
statement in which she admitted that the statute her office relied on had been earlier
repealed and that Holden had done what was legally required to address any
potential conflict of interest.
Holden filed his lawsuit in Marion County Superior Court in
March of 2015.
After spending 2 ½ years
mired in pre-trial motions and discovery disputes, the case was preliminarily
resolved in the Fall of 2017 via mandatory mediation.
The additional delay, which pushed the matter
inti 2018, was a result of the settlement having to be approved by the
As part of the resolution of the case, the State agreed to
pay Holden $92,500 and to remove him from the “do not rehire” list maintained
by the State of Indiana.
in a press release issued in conjunction with the settlement, Holden noted that
the “do not rehire” list maintained by the State of Indiana is in violation of
state blacklisting laws.
Holden spoke of his experience fighting, successfully, the
State on a wrongful termination matter: “Even though I was a 15-year state
employee who had served under three State Treasurers, because I worked for
Richard Mourdock and supported his Senate candidacy, the Republican
establishment and donor-lobbyist class wanted to retaliate against me.
Mitchell was just doing their bidding.”
Holden continued: “Ironically, I had arranged to transfer to
the Indiana Board for Depositories so that Kelly Mitchell would be able to
appoint her own Chief Deputy Treasurer and not be required to keep the position
open for me while I was on active duty as mandated by federal law.
I asked for a contract, because after so many
years of working for politicians, I don’t trust politicians to do the right
Kelly Mitchell proved my
Holden’s first quote above relates to his work helping his
boss Treasurer Richard Mourdock defeat long-time Indiana Senator Richard Lugar
in the Republican primary.
Establishment Republicans still sing Lugar’s praises, the fact is Richard Lugar
years earlier had left Indiana far behind, both physically and mentally.
Republicans in the Hoosier political trenches
had complained that Lugar would not support GOP candidates with endorsements or
fundraising and would not even bother to return to Indiana for Republican
Lincoln Day Dinners in the Hoosier.
even went so far as sending threating letters to Indiana GOP candidates warning
that they are not allowed to use pictures of the candidate with Lugar in their
On the rare occasions when Lugar did venture back to
Indiana, he would have to stay in hotel rooms because he had no residence in
When I investigated the matter,
I found Lugar for decades had been using the address of a home he had sold some
30 years earlier as his declared “residence” to cast votes in Indiana.
The legality of that practice is questionable
This is especially so when,
near the same time frame, prosecutors were aggressively pursuing former
Secretary of State Charlie White for a violation of the voting fraud statute
based on what he declared his residence to be for one
I have known Jim Holden from my earliest involvement in
Marion County politics in the late 1980s.
Jim is a true believer, someone who not only supports the traditional
conservative ideology communicated so eloquently by Ronald Reagan, but someone
willing to fight for those beliefs even if it means stepping on some GOP
It is good to see
Jim succeed in his lawsuit and to set the record straight regarding his