Democrat Pence calls for end to outside counsel contract

Chris Rizo Oct. 10, 2008, 1:36pm

Linda Pence (D)

INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline)-The Democratic candidate for Indiana attorney general says if elected she will cancel an outside counsel contract won by a former aide to Attorney General Steve Carter.

Democrat Linda Pence alleges the "sweetheart" deal was struck while John Lewis, a former division chief, was still working in the AG's office.

His firm -- Lewis & Wilkins -- has a two-year, $1.3 million contract with the attorney general's office to provide legal services. The agreement was signed in January. Last year, the state paid the firm $551,737.

Pence says that tort litigation should be handled by in-house legal staff, not by outside counsel.

"I absolutely won't stand for this type of conduct, which is why I'll immediately put an end to this contract if elected," said Pence, who is running against Republican Greg Zoeller, Carter's current chief deputy.

The attorney general has defended the contract, saying the arrangement will save taxpayers money. He said the contract saves the state $370,000 over two years.

Pence practices at the Indianapolis law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP. She was hired by the state to lead the investigation into the 1999 fish kill in the White River, which was blamed on the toxic chemical release by the Guide Co., an automotive parts manufacturer.

Pence, a former federal prosecutor, was paid $225.25 an hour for her work.

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