Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett says his lawyers are close to filing an appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court to an appellate court ruling saying he is ineligible to hold elected office. The challenge, based on Hatch Act violations alleged by former Mayor Kevin Burke, accuses Bennett running for public office while on the payroll of an organization receiving federal funds. Bennett says must file his appeal before the end of next week in order to stay the appellate court decision.
“And there’s a ten day period for [Burke's] attorneys to provide a reply to [to the appeal]. And then the court will decide: do we affirm the appellate courts and have a special election. Or do we take this and make their own decision. Who knows how long it will take for them to decide this. I’m hoping it’s pretty quick, but we really don’t have any idea,” Bennett said.
Bennett says the uncertainty facing his term as mayor hasn’t affected his agenda. But he admits it’s an unavoidable topic when he’s among his constituents.
“People want to talk about it all the time, ask about the status and what’s going on. But we’ve just moved and just done everything we need to be on a daily basis. You know, I don’t even really talk to my attorneys. They handle everything,” Bennett said.
Bennett says he doesn’t anticipate the Supreme Court will overturn all he’s done in his year in office. He also says the court case hasn’t disrupted his first term agenda. Bennett made his comments on WFIU’s “Ask the Mayor” program.