Thursday, December 4, 2008

Terre Haute City Attorney requested a letter from Office of Special Counsel regarding Bennett's status under the Hatch Act

On Monday, News 10 (WTHI) uncovered a document from the Office of Special Counsel saying they agreed with the findings by a Vigo County Judge, that Terre Haute mayor Duke Bennett violated the Hatch Act.

Once this document became public, questions came up about why no one knew about the letter and what this could mean for the case.The letter was sent to City attorney Chou-il Lee from the Office of Special Council. It said based on Bolk's ruling, Bennett violated the Hatch Act.

"Chou-il chose to just do that letter you know and get it himself, get the answers to the questions, which I applaud him for doing that," Bennett said.

The main question Lee wanted answers to was whether the city of Terre Haute could lose federal funding because of Bolk's ruling.

"Based upon what was provided in this letter, they're not going after anything. The only way the city could lose federal funding is if they decide to go after it and they're not going to, so I think I inferred the right interpretation of the letter," Lee said.

But former Mayor Kevin Burke said that may not be the case."Everything that I'm told by my attorneys is that the OSC can complete their work and say what they have so far and that still does not remove the potential for there to be ramifications from this," Burke said.

Bennett said he doesn't know how that's possible."The Office of Special Council has still not done an independent investigation and that's the bottom line," Bennett said.

Lee said if anyone is to blame for this current wrinkle in the Burke-Bennett saga, it's him."I held this to myself. So if anyone wants to put blame about covering up, hiding things, point the finger at me," Lee said.

Lee said his intention was to clear up the money issue, not to question Bennett's eligibility, something Burke said isn't clear from the letter."They have determined that Judge Bolk's findings was enough, were enough to say he violated the Hatch Act. They didn't need to find any more. They found enough," Bennett said.

But whether this will weigh on the future of this case, no one knows for sure. According to Lee, this opinion would not have been entered into the appellate hearing because it was filed after Bolk's ruling. Abby Walton TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) -

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