Indiana Inspector General David Thomas and the state ethics commission dispensed with the Tony Bennett mess as quietly as possible, but making something disappear doesn't mean it never happened or that it should have happened in the first place.
Bennett's champions outside Indiana have an easier job because their audiences don't know the details of the former state superintendent's transgressions and don't realize they represent just more of the muck in the ethical swamp of Indiana state government.
Under one-party rule, anything goes here. Democratic elected officials in northwest Indiana have appropriately noted that the same campaign violations for which Bennett was fined $5,000 have sent politicians there to prison.
“We don't have an ethics commission in northwest Indiana. We have the FBI," Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. told a radio station.
At the Statehouse, however, the most blatant of conflicts can be dismissed and anyone daring to point them out can be labeled as a "self-serving opportunist" or "crusading journalist." . . .
Indiana's leaders make no apologies for the ethical mess. Like Bennett's champions, they wonder aloud how anyone could possibly suggest these "public servants" are doing anything but serving Hoosiers.
The problem for them, however, is that the swamp doesn't go beyond Indiana's borders. When one of these public servants makes a bid for a post elsewhere, they quickly learn what is acceptable in Indiana is not only frowned upon most everywhere else -- it's not legal most everywhere else. That's why you won't see a former Indiana governor in the White House for awhile and why Florida's commissioner of education is not a Hoosier.
That's all good for people elsewhere, but those of us who call Indiana home continue to live in an ethical swamp.Boosters of Gov. Mike Pence's presidential hopes should take Francisco's comments seriously. Former Gov. Mitch Daniels dropped talk of running for president in 2012 like a hot potato after reporters outside the state started examining aspects of his personal life and corrupt dealings as governor that received very little coverage beyond the blogs within the Hoosier state. Those reporters are already similarly starting to dig into Pence's past, and they're already chomping at the bit to take on his record. Remember, the mainstream media holds Republican candidates to a much higher standard than the Clintons or Obamas.