Ike, Abdul and IndyUndercover: the plot thickens

Dateline: Tue 11 Dec 2007

There has been some speculation for some time that outgoing city-county councilman and rising Republican Ike Randolph of Indianapolis played a role in the now-defunct pro-cop blog Indy Undercover. The blog, which started off Oct. 1, 2006, as mostly fun and funny, eventually resorted to the use of excessive verbal force under the cloak of anonymity.

Or in the words of one veteran police officer, who admitted to occasionally reading it: "..it became sorta toxic and irrelevant." This man, by the way, is a staunch Ballard supporter.

Radio talk show host and attorney Abdul Hakim-Shabazz has been unquestionably linked to the blog, by virtue of a recent search warrant targeted to recover his computer. While Abdul was tipped off in advance and the warrant was never served, we now know that the essence of the legal document dealt with the naming of a confidential police informant in a June Indy Undercover posting about Southeastside arsons.

The blog, which endured a mercy killing Monday, still has tongues wagging, with this question hanging in the air: Did Randolph, a city employee, have a hand in the blog? The question is all the more relevant since the longtime Republican and firefighter is poised to take a key position in the administration of incoming mayor Greg Balllard.

Randolph's name in connection with Indy Undercover first surfaced on Gary Welsh's Advance Indiana blog. In a Nov. 12 post speculating on the role blogs played in Ballard's election, Welsh wrote:

"It is hard to deny the role Indy Undercover and other blogs like Advance Indiana, Indiana Barrister and Digital Farmers, among others, played in Greg Ballard's victory last Tuesday. Frankly, I think I can speak for the pro-Ballard blogs in saying we did more to aid Ballard's election this year than his own party.

"Indy Undercover," Welsh continued, "has been a mystery everyone has wanted to unravel. On at least two occasions, I have been falsely accused of being the person behind the blog...

"An even more bizarre thing happened last year," Welsh added, "when someone began anonymously sending me alleged e-mails between Ike Randolph and Abdul Hakim-Shabazz discussing posts for the blog. I couldn't tell whether they were spoofed e-mails so I showed them to the accused, who denied being behind the blog. Both say it's a group of law enforcement officers just like the blog claims. Rather than rush to judgment, I accepted the two men at their word."

I talked to Randolph today about that email, which I've seen. He acknowledged he received it from Abdul, but he denied being connected to Indy Undercover.

"No. Period," he said. "I do know a police officer who is part of the group that started it. I never pressured him. I don't think he did it all. There may have been as many as 12 (officers) involved."

As for the email, Randolph said Abdul called him a year and a half or so ago. "He said, 'Someone is jacking around with my computer. Here is what I want you to do. I'm gonna email you that I've got a new posting.'"

The ruse, according to Randolph, was that Abdul would use the words "indy undercover" as "a bait," to see "if the cops are monitoring me (Abdul)."

"I said, 'yeah, send it to me," said Randolph. "He (Abdul) believed his computer was being bugged. It was a test. It was just a passing thing."

Randolph said he was at the firehouse when Abdul contacted him. "I sent it online, I got on the Internet. We used the word 'indy undercover' in the email, just to see what would happen."

The email was forwarded to Welsh in October, 2006, and Welsh contacted Abdul about it Oct. 21. Randolph says now, "I would suspect that someone illegally was monitoring someone's computer. Someone broke the law. Now, it looks like Abdul was right (that he was being bugged)."

OK, that's the official story from Randolph.

Here's the email, sent to Randolph at his personal email address:

"hey,

>>>

>>> check indyuncover when you get home. i've got the draft for the

>>> (unveling). i >> also found out how to change the time of the postings, that could > come >>> in handy >>> later. chat soon.

>>>

>>> ahs"

>>>

One last note: Randolph said he returned my phone call because he wants to put this baby to bed. "I don't want to carry this into 2008."

Fair enough. But troubling questions remain: was somebody hacking into private email, albeit email sent on a city computer on work time? "Abdul was pissing people off," recalls Randolph. "He was digging deep."

Was someone in the city out to get Abdul? Obviously, a search warrant eventually was issued.

I'm trying to decipher the moral here. One that seems to be emerging: A blog that writes about politics and politicians is a kissing cousin to journalism. Despite the appearance of frivolity, said blog has responsibilities, including truth and honesty. A blog designed to hide its author's identity, when that author is a powerful player slinging a lot of hash and perhaps using his friends as sources, is trouble.

Having a name attached to Indy Undercover -- not the dumb Joe Friday -- might have saved the blog's life.

RIP.

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