Councilwoman won’t be prosecuted over recording

WTHI File Photo
WTHI File Photo

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — The head of Indiana’s State Board of Accounts has decided to limit the local officials’ participation in reviewing audit reports after a prosecutor decided that an Evansville city councilwoman didn’t break state law by secretly recording one such meeting.

A special prosecutor found that Democratic Councilwoman Stephanie Brinkerhoff-Riley didn’t interfere with the state auditors by releasing her recording of a March conference between several city officials and auditors reviewing city finances.

She was critical of Republican Mayor Lloyd Winnecke’s financial administration even though the final audit report gave the city its top rating.

Chief State Examiner Paul Joyce said those conferences are supposed to be confidential, comparing the accountant-client relationship to attorney-client privilege. Only local officials such as a city clerk or clerk-treasurer will now be allowed to review reports with state auditors before they’re completed, Joyce told the Evansville Courier & Press.

“I don’t understand the determination,” Joyce said of the prosecutor’s decision. “I don’t think it’s for the best benefit of government.”

Gibson County Prosecutor Robert Krieg wrote in a report submitted Wednesday to a Vanderburgh County judge that the lead examiner on the Evansville audit told investigators that Brinkerhoff-Riley’s actions didn’t delay or interfere with completing the review.

“While serving as special prosecutor, it is improper for me to comment whether I have concluded that Ms. Brinkerhoff-Riley’s actions were wrong,” Krieg wrote. “I am only to decide whether Ms. Brinkerhoff-Riley violated the law.”

Brinkerhoff-Riley, who resigned as the council’s vice president amid criticism of her actions, said she had expected to be cleared of breaking the law.

Brinkerhoff-Riley said she didn’t regret what she did, and “I would have done it again.”

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