Friday, June 09, 2006

Two Kernan Officials Admit To Ethical Violations

Former Gov. Joe Kernan (D) has been out of office nearly a year and a half, but ethics investigations into two former members of his administration have just concluded. Former Indiana State Police Superintendant Melvin Carraway admitted to destroying three computer hard drives before he left office. The State Ethics Commission also found that former INDOT Commissioner Bryan Nicol held a political fundraiser for Mayor Bart Peterson in 2003 at which persons seeking state highway contracts were in attendance. Each will pay a $5,000 fine according to the Star for their misdeeds.

That doesn't necessarily end it for Carraway however. He faces on ongoing investigation by the Marion Co. Prosecutor's office. The Star's Mary Beth Schneider reports:

Roger Rayl, spokesman for Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, said that while the investigation into the hard drives is complete, the office continues to investigate allegations, outlined in a State Board of Accounts audit last year, that Carraway and Johnson inappropriately directed more than $140,000 in public dollars to a foundation that runs the State Police Memorial.

Republicans were quick to jump on the news. Schneider writes:

County GOP Chairman Michael B. Murphy, also an Indianapolis state representative, issued a statement calling on Peterson to refund any money "from that infamous fundraising event." "What did the mayor know, and when did he know it?" Murphy said, repeating the phrase used in the Watergate probe of then-president Richard Nixon.

Democratic Party communications director Jennifer Wagner says I can play that game too. She tells Schneider that "the Indiana Democratic Party, said it has filed a similar complaint with the state's inspector general against current Transportation Commissioner Tom Sharp for meeting with transportation industry officials who also are GOP political donors." Schneider adds, "That meeting was coordinated by the Republican Party's state fundraising unit."

As for the tainted Peterson money, Mike O'Connor tells Schneider that Peterson has no intention of returning the money which Nicol raised for him in violation of state ethics rules. And just what was on those computer hard drives Carraway destroyed? Let's hope the Marion Co. Prosecutor's office can tell us more about that one.

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