UPDATE: Department of Justice sends letter and tapes back to city
SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Last week Mayor Pete Buttigieg received a box from the Department of Justice. A box containing the controversial phone recordings that he said he could not open.
The mayor also said he did not get a letter explaining the department's findings or instructions on how to move forward. However Tuesday, the department said it did send a letter and came separately from the sealed box that contained the tapes.
The mayor's chief of staff, Mike Schmuhl, said the city did not know about the letter. In fact, the mayor's office requested a copy of the email ABC 57 received from the Department of Justice. Now, the Mayor's office said it is checking with the Department of Justice to see if the letter was put inside the box.
The mayor announced in a press conference last Thursday that the city received a box containing what they thought to be the tapes. Yet, the mayor said he had no plans on opening the box.
"In order to make sure the integrity of everything is preserved it hasn't been opened, but it has been secured," said Mayor Buttigieg.
Interim City Attorney Aladean DeRose mailed the tapes to the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division on June 4th to seek the guidance of the Attorney General's office after members of the community demand the release of the tapes.
During the press conference, both the mayor and DeRose were adamant that the city had not received any sort of letter or response from the Department of Justice. "They [ Department of Justice] have not communicated with us any findings or any need to take action," said Mayor Buttigieg.
"If the Justice Department had something important to tell us, I think they would have communicated with us or sent us a letter separately from the box. We have not received anything from the Justice Department," said DeRose.
Yet, ABC 57 received an email from a spokesperson with the Department of Justice stating that, 'The South Bend Police Department should have received both the tapes and a letter explaining the return of the tapes on Tuesday, August 28, 2012'.
On the heels of the email, the South Bend Common Council hand-delivered this letter to the Mayor's office. In the letter, it demands to know if the city received a separate letter or any other correspondence from the Department of Justice.
The Common Council said it will be releasing an official statement regarding this letter and some of the questions they have now after hearing the Department of Justice's response.
We still have not received an official statement from the mayor's office with a response to the matter.