Prosecutor Carl Bizzi cautioned that he was conducting a preliminary review "to see if it rises to the level of criminal conduct." Brizzi said he will send a letter to Indiana's Inspector General David Thomas asking for pertinent e-mails and documents. A story in The Indianapolis Star today reported that Demoract Steve Bell said Thomas offered him a post on the Indiana Parole Board if he ended his campaign for Clay County sheriff. Brizzi said he decided to review the allegations after reading the story. Such a job offer could be a violation of official misconduct or bribery laws, Brizzi told reporters today. Offering a state post in exchange for a candidate quitting his run for office "creates an appearance" that needs to be investigated, said Brizzi, a
We totally agree with Brizzi’s decision to look into the matter, but it raises the question of why allegations that Daniels’ chief of staff Harry Gonso offered similar state jobs to two Democratic House members in the middle of the session while both members were pondering retirement, and while the Governor was actively pursuing their votes for his Major Moves initiative, is not also being investigated?
Thomas has denied he made the offer as alleged, but he admits he spoke to Democrat Steve Bell about the job at the request of Eric Holcomb, a close aide to Gov. Daniels. As the state’s chief officer in charge of regulating ethics in state government, it is simply inexcusable that Thomas would compromise his own integrity by involving himself in any state hiring matter which is clearly not within the scope of his employment as noted by the Governor’s office. Thomas is a former Republican prosecutor in Clay County--hence his continuing to dabble in local political matters there.
Making matters worse in the Gonso job offer matter, the Indiana Republican Party is now running radio attack ads against Rep. Vern Tincher (D-Terre Haute) and Rep. Bob Bischoff (D-Greendale), the two lawmakers offered jobs by Gonso, for refusing to support Gov. Daniels’ Major Moves Initiative. Gonso had told the Star earlier that he offered each of the legislators state jobs because they were highly qualified candidates for the job. To accept the jobs, the Democrats would have had to give up their jobs as state lawmakers, thereby enhancing Republican efforts to maintain control of the House by putting their seats in play.
This all looks very bad folks, and the timing of this news could not come at a worse time for the administration. Gov. Daniels promised us a state government with the highest of ethical standards. So far, it is those persons closest to the Governor, including his own man in charge of ethics, who have failed to live up to those high standards. Gov. Daniels needs to deal directly with both of these individuals as quickly as possible if he is truly serious about cleaning up state government.