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Judicial Watch announced on Wednesday that former-Mayor Pete Buttigieg has agreed to search his personal emails, instead of being deposed by Judicial Watch, for records related to the creation of ID cards to help illegal aliens in South Bend, Indiana.   

This agreement and subsequent court order come in response to Judicial Watch’s Access to Public Records Act (APRA) open records lawsuit that was filed in August 2019 after the City of South Bend failed to respond as required by law to open records requests seeking emails between Buttigieg, members of his staff and officials of La Casa de Amistad regarding the Community Resident Card program. (Judicial Watch v. City of South Bend (No. 71C01-1908-Ml-000389)).

Judicial Watch initially sought a deposition of Buttigieg, but withdrew its request upon his agreement to search his personal email for the following records:

  • Emails between Mayor Peter Buttigieg on any personal/private or non-South Bend email account and any of the below listed individuals from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017 containing the following terms: “Community Resident Card,” “CRC,” “Municipal ID,” “SB ID, ”Resident ID,” and/or Community ID.”

Individuals:  Same Centellas, John Collins, Felix Bueno, Jr., Laura O’Sullivan, Tammy Bell, Genevieve Miller, Molly Buser, Cherri Peate, Scott Ruszkowski, Mark Bode, Eric Horvath, Jamie Morgan, Marcia I. Jones

On December 16, 2016, the South Bend Tribune reported that, “A nonprofit Latino advocacy group … unveiled a new identification card it hopes will make life easier for undocumented immigrants who live in [South Bend].” La Casa de Amistad Inc. are the creators of this “SB ID.” Buttigieg reportedly worked “closely with La Casa de Amistad, South Bend’s main Latino outreach center … and the nonprofit’s executive director, Sam Centellas,” to create a “Community Resident Card … created and distributed by the group — a private organization — not the city.” “Buttigieg’s part to make it all work was to sign an executive order requiring local services and institutions — like law enforcement, schools, the water utility and libraries — to accept the card as a valid form of identification.”

South Bend refused or ignored Judicial Watch APRA requests for multiple times between June 24, 2019, and July 18, 2019. Each time, South Bend said the requests were too broad and not “reasonably particular.” After each refusal, Judicial Watch would comply with South Bend’s suggestion to limit their request. After four exchanges, South Bend produced Mayor Buttigieg’s executive order and 2 information bulletins that were already publicly accessible.

“This victory will help the public understand Mayor Buttigieg’s plan to create special ID cards to make it easier for illegal aliens to stay in the United States contrary to law,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is curious that the mayor fought us for so long on this simple request for information.”

Judicial Watch is represented by Andrew B. Jones of the Jones Law Office LLC in South Bend, IN.