Democrats call for state ethics investigation
By Matt Mikus firstname.lastname@example.org August 8, 2013 6:20PM
Updated: September 10, 2013 6:32AM
Democratic leaders of the Indiana House and Senate asked state Inspector General David Thomas to investigate the ethics of the state’s executive branch of government.
Sen. Tim Lanane of Anderson and Rep. Scott Pelath of Michigan City sent an open letter to Thomas on Thursday pointing to a number of incidents, from unethical business connections to the development of Interstate 69 to recent revelations involving former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett’s manipulation of a new school grading system. The two asked whether Thomas should begin an investigation.
“Taken as a whole, we believe the circumstances surrounding each of these cases demonstrate the need for a fundamental review of the duties of the Inspector General’s office and the code of ethics presently in place for executive branch officials,” the letter states.
The most recent issue involves emails published by The Associated Press last week showing Bennett and his staff changing the grading formula to raise Christel House Academy’s grade from a C to an A. The academy’s founder, Christel DeHaan, donated $2.8 million to Republicans since 1998, AP said, including $130,000 to Bennett.
Bennett resigned as Florida’s education commissioner last week but continues to deny any misconduct.
The letter lists reports from media outlets showing misuse or misconduct of the state’s executive branch, including a recent ruling on land deals for the development of Interstate 69 and an Indiana Department of Transportation official and his family, and former Gov. Mitch Daniels’ appointment as Purdue University president after Daniels left state office.
Pelath and Lanane asked whether Thomas’ office will investigate the recent school grading controversy, and whether the office will review and update the state’s code of ethics.
The office of the Inspector General was established in 2005 by Daniels, and charged with investigating criminal and ethical violations.
Thomas did not respond to requests for comments.