On Tuesday, the Courier-Journal had an article about the pre-election mischief in the Harrison County Courthouse. This week's Corydon Democrat, out today, also has an article. The Democrat also covers the whole kerfuffle about the improper notification of the commissioners' meeting about the issue.
Interesting are the statements of Shawn Donahue about the incident:
In the interview, Donahue said he dropped by the courthouse to use a letter-folding machine on some letters "that we needed folded."
When asked who "we" is, Donahue said the papers were his personal letters.
"I was under the understanding that anybody could use the letter folder, so I used it," he said.
He declined to say who gave him a key to the courthouse.
I am reminded of the Mark Twain quip that only kings and people with tapeworms are entitled to use the editorial "we." Unless he has multiple personalities or parasites or something, Donahue clearly slipped up in his statements to Grace Schneider. Why he, as a lawyer, would speak to a reporter about the incident in the first place is beyond me.
The good news is that further viewing of the surveillance tapes by the State Police and a closer examination of the ballots and election equipment indicate that their integrity was not compromised, meaning that the election will not drag on for further days or weeks (much to the relief of all, I think it can safely be said).
The dispute over the commissioners' meeting over the incident aside, the central issue of access remains unanswered. Rumor still has it that Rena Stepro, then the County Treasurer and now elected as County Assessor, gave Donahue the key to access the office for the purposes of folding and possibly copying something.
The young attorney has refused to say who gave him the key but, as a county employee, his job may hang in the balance if he continues to refuse to provide that information to the commissioners. Moreover, none of this precludes wider legal action for conversion, trespassing, or even theft (if a county photocopier was used). There is also the serious possibility of action against Donahue's license to practice law.
Computerized enhancement of the video footage showing Donahue's two entrances and exits to the Courthouse could shine light on the "we" slip and the truthfulness of his statements with regard to the nature of what he was having folded (or copied). If those "papers" were indeed political materials, then Donahue could face yet further legal peril.
The Democrats, having won handily in the county elections, are now potentially in a position to attempt to push the entire thing under the rug if they so choose. Whether the Courier's Grace Schneider and the reporters for the Corydon Democrat will remain seized of the story will decide much of this, as sunlight will almost certainly force some sort of action.
Shawn Donahue is a life-long Democratic partisan. The good old boys of the county, and not necessarily just all Democrats, may decide to protect him or let him off easy. But others, including many Democrats and many in the prosecutor's office and the courthouse do not care much for him. When he arrived at the Courthouse on election night to watch the returns come in, he was roundly jeered by his fellow Democrats, who asked him for a key to the building or if Donahue could fold things for them.
Some Democrats might just want to push him overboard since now given the chance, and thus be able to move on. The Republican Party chairman received multiple anonymous phone calls on the matter, and the Courthouse is staffed largely by Democrats. There is a good chance that at least one Democrat blew the whistle.
The matter is by no means settled.