IN Focus: Holcomb denies Amazon interference allegations

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb is fighting back against accusations that he interfered in the death investigation of an Amazon employee.

An investigative report from Reveal News claims he helped shift blame away from Amazon in order to help lure the company's new headquarters, HQ2, to Indianapolis.

The report says an inspector with the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) found Amazon responsible for the 2017 death of Phillip Terry. Terry was crushed by a forklift at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Plainfield.

The report claims that when Amazon was informed of the investigators' report, a state official with IOSHA talked to the company about how to shift the blame to Terry. It says the inspector faced additional pressure from the labor secretary, who allegedly indicated he leave it alone or resign.

Reveal says the IOSHA inspector said Gov. Holcomb was at the meeting with the labor secretary and didn't want to upset the company they were trying to bring here.

Holcomb says that meeting never took place, and called the reporting "irresponsible" and "deliberately misleading." Here's his full statement:

“Let me be as clear as I possibly can be, I have never been involved in a Department of Labor case. Furthermore, I have never had a meeting with Commissioner Ruble and an IOSHA employee. My office told “Reveal” that this information was false and yet they still published the fabricated allegations. The reporting is both irresponsible and deliberately misleading.  We are exploring any possible recourse to remove these heinous lies."

The governor's office took a further step Friday, sending cease-and-desist letters to news organizations which published the report.

"While filing a cease and desist letter is an unusual step, I'm compelled to do so," said Holcomb in a statement issued Friday. "I will not let the false accusations about Indiana state employees and me stand."

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