According to the Indiana Open Door Law handbook, “caucus” means a gathering of members of a political party or coalition which is held for purposes of planning political strategy and holding discussions designed to prepare the members for taking official action.

Indiana Public Access Counselor Luke Britt said it is wrong to compare the Carroll County Commissioners to the Indiana General Assembly. He said a caucus is to “galvanize a political strategy” employing political ideology.

“Absolutely not, should this meeting be called a caucus,” Britt emphatically stated. “A caucus is to ensure the Party members’ actions are consistent with the Party’s ideology.”

Britt also said the Party Chair (in this case, Auditor Beth Myers) is the person who officially calls a caucus, not the commissioners. He said it sounds like the Commissioners, on the advice of their attorney, might be trying to abuse the caucus exemption in the Open Door Law. Britt stated when Jack Krouse advises about the jail project to a majority of the commissioners and council, that act would be considered “receiving information” and therefore, the commissioners and council members are in a public meeting.

Britt wrote an opinion about a similar matter in March of this year regarding the Common Council for the City of Bloomington in which he stated, “a caucus is certainly a vehicle for taking official action on the political party’s business, which is why a caucus is not subject to the ODL. The goal of the ODL is to ensure the people are informed on the business of the public, not political parties.”
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