(La Porte, IN) - La Porte County Attorney Shaw Friedman is asking a public official to drop his affiliation with what he described as a radical group implicated in the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building.
Friedman said La Porte County Commissioner Joe Haney is associated with The Oath Keepers, an alleged American far-right militia organization known for its anti-government views and conspiracy theories.
“Now we understand why Commissioner Joe Haney has, since coming to office January 1st, trafficked in conspiracy theories and simply makes up stories alleging all kinds of corruption, sleaze, and wrongdoing in La Porte County government with not a shred of evidence to back up his claims,” Friedman said, “I’m today calling on him to publicly renounce claims to the Oath Keepers and start acting like a public servant whose only loyalties are to the people of La Porte County."
The two men, along with La Porte County Auditor Tim Stabosz, have been embroiled in controversy since January, which resulted in Friedman suing Stabosz on defamation of character claims. Stabosz has accused Friedman of unduly running the county government. His claims have been supported by Haney but rejected by other county officials. The lawsuit has not been decided in the courts.
Haney is President of 13C Gun Reviews, a gun rights organization. Haney said he is not connected to the Oath Keepers, and the picture of him holding the machine gun was taken over 10-years ago. A picture of Haney holding the firearm is posted on the 13C Gun Reviews website, and a caption underneath the picture refers to Haney as an "Oath Keeper."
Haney said the term "Oath Keeper" was taken out of context by Friedman and means that he is an oath keeper regarding his dedication to upholding gun rights and the U.S. Constitution, not a member of the official Oath Keeper organization.
Haney claims that Friedman is trying to paint him as some "wacko," but he’s proud of his work in defending gun rights, his work in promoting gun safety, and the U.S. Constitution.
“To try and somehow paint me and associate me with some other group that I have absolutely no affiliation with whatsoever is preposterous. It just goes to show how desperate Shaw Friedman is to personally attack me. This is part of the seedy underbelly of La Porte County politics I talked about when I ran,” Haney said.
Haney was elected in November and took his seat on the three-member county commission in January. The friction between the political figures who all spoke last night during the La Porte County Council meeting boiled over. A five-minute break was taken in the meeting so the charged atmosphere could simmer down.
Stabosz questioned the legal advice of Friedman over a $1.5 million no-bid contract awarded last week for repairs to the Frankin Street drawbridge in Michigan City. The Commissioners approved the contract on a 2-1 vote, with Haney voting against it and publicly questioning Friedman's legal judgment on the issue.
Friedman said the no-bid contract was justified under state guidelines because of the emergency nature of a bridge vital to the economy of Michigan City and the contractor being a longtime caretaker of the bridge and specialist in its upkeep and maintenance.
Stabosz said one of his duties is to pay the bills for the county, and he won’t pay unless the Indiana State Board of Accounts confirms Friedman’s claims that a no-bid contract was appropriate under state guidelines.