Holcomb responds to accusations with cease and desist letters

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INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb is pushing back against accusations that he was involved in a cover-up following an Amazon worker’s death in Plainfield.

After articles were published in Reveal and the Indianapolis Star alleging Holcomb helped clear Amazon of wrongdoing despite initial findings of major safety violations, Democrats demanded answers from the Republican Governor.

Friday, Holcomb responded with cease and desist letters to the publications, citing “serious inaccuracies and falsehoods” in the articles.

“While filing a cease and desist letter is an unusual step to take, I’m compelled to do so,” Holcomb said in a statement to the media. “I will not let the false accusations about Indiana state employees and me stand, as first published by California-based Reveal and followed soon thereafter by the Indianapolis Star.”

The articles claimed that as Holcomb was attempting to attract Amazon to build it its second headquarters in Indiana, “state labor officials quietly absolved Amazon of responsibility” in the 2017 death of 59-year old Phillip Lee Terry who was fatally crashed by a forklift in a Plainfield warehouse.

A state safety inspector originally levied a $28,000 find against Amazon, concluding the company didn’t provide sufficient training before the incident.

The report cites a recording the inspector made in which the state’s top safety administrator tells Amazon officials how to reduce the fines and shift the blame to “employee misconduct.” The inspector’s boss later tells him, “I hope you don’t take it personally if we have to manipulate your citations.”

The final state report issued in September 2018 dropped the fine and all safety violation orders, saying that Amazon “made a sufficient showing that it met all the required elements of an unpreventable employee misconduct defense.”

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