Friday, February 01, 2008

Carson, The State Excise Police Officer

In a recent interview with Star political columnist Matt Tully, Democratic 7th District congressional candidate Andre Carson cited ten years of service as a state excise police officer in explaining that he was qualified to serve in the U.S. Congress. A public records request of Carson's personnel file turns up little information upon which we can weigh the experience he gained while working there. Employment records show that Carson began working as an excise police officer on August 24, 1998 and stopped working there in October of last year after nine years of service. His starting annual salary was $18,980, and he was earning $47,648 a year when he resigned his job to take a marketing position with Cripe Engineering. His rank of Officer remained unchanged throughout his tenure.

Superintendant Alex Huskey of the Indiana State Excise Police explains that some information is missing from Carson's file because a Marion County grand jury led by former Prosecutor Scott Newman's office seized Carson's personnel file, along with several other state excise police officers, including that of a cousin, Sam Carson, soon after Carson began working as an excise officer. Newman convened the grand jury to investigate allegations of favoritism within the agency, which at the time was run by a former campaign manager of the late U.S. Rep. Julia Carson, Eugene Honeycutt. At the time, Honeycutt was accused of hiring the two Carson grandsons as a favor to Rep. Carson. In 2000, Honeycutt pleaded guility to charges he accepted food, drink and sexual favors from two Indianapolis strip clubs, although he denied ignoring excise violations at the strip club in exchange for the favors. Another excise employee, John Dugan, was also charged with ghost employment. Both Honeycutt and Dugan lost their jobs. Although neither Carson was charged with wrongdoing during the investigation, Huskey says the prosecutor's office retained some of the information removed from Carson's personnel file.

To be hired as an excise police officer, a candidate need not have a college degree. As a 22-year-old Carson filled out an application for an excise police officer position on September 8, 1997. Carson was required to attest that he had not been convicted of a felony and had never been a member of or affiliated with a group or organization which advocated the overthrow of the U.S. government by force, violence or other unlawful means. After being hired, he was sworn in as an excise officer on October 16, 1998. Excise police records show that Carson successfully completed basic training at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in 1999. He finished 88th out of 89 students in the class. However, Huskey cautioned not to read too much into Carson's next-to-last place class ranking. He noted that his academic average of 85.3% was statistically close to peers in his class and well above the passing 70% threshold required of academy attendees at the time. Carson eked out a passing grade in criminal law with a 70% score and a 72% score in hazardous materials. His highest score, 96%, came in firearms. Huskey noted that Carson was a squad leader. A graduate of the academy tells me that a person is not always chosen to be a squad leader because the cadet demonstrates leadership ability. According to the academy graduate, who asked to remain anonymous, a squad leader role may be given to a candidate in need of extra leadership attention. Huskey also points out that newly-hired exicse police officers take their training after they are hired. Carson needed only to pass the basic training exam at the academy to remain employed as an excise police officer. How high he scored on the exam was irrelevant to his continued employment. Excise police records also indicate that Carson had an academic ranking of fourth among excise police candidates in his class. Huskey did not know how many candidates against whom Carson had competed.

While serving as a full-time excise police officer, Carson earned a bachelor's degree from Concordia University in Mequon, Wisconsin in 2003 in Criminal Justice Management and a master's degree in business management in 2006 from Indiana Wesleyan University. Because Concordia is located in Wisconsin, it is assumed Carson completed his bachelor's degree in a correspondence program. Although he was not required to do so, Carson had a copy of his undergraduate transcript placed in his personnel file. Carson studied from Spring, 2001 to Summer, 2003, earning an overall GPA score of 3.48 and credited with 128 hours. His study period was shortened as a result of 14 credit hours that he received from his law enforcement academy training and another 6 credit hours transferred from Ivy Tech. Although he earned mostly As and Bs, his lowest grades came in the latter part of his studies. He earned a C in Mathematics 125, a C- in Algebra 122 and a C- in Statistical Methods 169. Carson earned an A in the World of Islam and an A in the Management of Law Enforcement Agencies. Huskey said he believed Carson completed his studies at Indiana Wesleyan University through evening and weekend classes.

Soon after Carson became an excise police officer, a letter of commendation dated December 13, 1998 and signed by Sgt. Don Weilhamer, Jr. of the Indianapolis Police Department was placed in his personnel file. Sgt. Weilhamer expressed gratitude to Carson's then-boss, Superintendent Gene Honeycutt, for the work of Carson and Officers John Dugan and Kevin Leslie with the investigation of several eastside Indianapolis bars. The investigation resulted in a number of arrests. "These Officers did an excellent job," wrote Sgt. Weilhamer.

Although Carson never earned any promotions during his service as an excise police officer, from December 1, 2006 to August 28, 2007, Carson was assigned to the Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center within the state's Department of Homeland Security as a watch officer. Huskey could not provide a job description for Carson's work at the Fusion Center because of the sensitive nature of his work there. Carson's website, nontheless, describes his duites. "There he worked in an anti-terrorism unit to provide Indianapolis and all of Indiana with the security measures necessary for our physical safety," the site reads. His employment ended there when he was appointed to the City-County Council and became a candidate for election to that office in the November election. Huskey explained that the Fusion Center received grants from the federal government and, although Carson's salary was still paid by the Indiana Excise Police, the decision was made to return Carson to his former job to avoid Hatch Act problems. In a letter dated September 4, 2007, Monte McKee, Executive Director of the Fusion Center, praised Carson's service. "I couldn't be more pleased that you were on our first staff of watch officers during the critical time of start-up operations at the fusion center and seeing us through to a point when we could grow to a full 24-7 operation."

Weeks after Carson returned to the State Excise Police, he tendered his resignation to become a marketing specialist for Cripe Engineering. Carson tendered his letter of resignation in a memorandum to Supt. Huskey dated October 2, 2007. "I have enjoyed nine full years with this wonderful organization," Carson wrote. "I appreciate (sic) the opportunity to serve you."

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

ok..he barely passed criminal law in the academy (which isn't that tough of a subject) and then went on to get a's and b's in college??? Something doesn't add up there

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a truely unspectacular career.

He is certainly prepared to lead in Congress. Not.

Vox Populi said...

Great post. I think it's clear his job in the State Excise police was because of political patronage and he is not qualified to be in Congress yet. David Orentlicher is much more qualified, smarter, and a great contrast to the Center Township Mafia.

Anonymous said...

Concordia University Wisconsin has a learning center in Carmel, and they formerly had a learning center out by the airport, so Carson probably took classes there.

http://www.cuw.edu/AdultEd_Graduate/ae/locations/indianapolis/index.html

Anonymous said...

and why can't Elrod hold a job other than with the family law firm........how about someone disagreeing with Andre on an issue ....wouldn't that be novel..discussing an issue instead of bashing his grandmother and ...where does Elrod stand on most issues like the Iraq war, healthcare, etc.

Anonymous said...

This article is an embarrassment to the democratic party. If Mr. Carson loves his grandmother, he would get out in good standing while he can. Can you imagine the what is going to happen when the Indpls Star publishes the information? Great job Andre!!!

Anonymous said...

"and why can't Elrod hold a job other than with the family law firm........"

what is he supposed to do, 8:56? just chuck all that college and law school and go become a plumber? your statement is absurd.

Anonymous said...

9:26 Great job of pointing out the differences between an academic institution with mandatory uniform standards of achievement in order to pass, and a degree mill.

Nepotism can't be more obvious.

Anonymous said...

Getting an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan is nothing to be proud of. It's basically a diploma mill. They'll let anybody in and as long as you pay your tuition, you'll get a degree.

Anonymous said...

I e-mailed Concordia last week, to ask how to get an online degree.

The answer, while too lengthy to publish here, is hilarious. This "Lutheran university" in Wisconsin basically said, pay the $17,648 per year and I can get a degree in my choice from a long list.

Not one single Wisconsin appearance was required. I could've gotten a degree in the name of Mickey Mouse.

Indiana Wesleyan is not a diploma mill, exactly, but it is an endurance degree. If you hang out long enough, you graduate. And not cheaply.

By the by--there is paydirt in the Gene Honeycutt connection and how Andre and one other Carosn got jobs in the first place. The reporters have only scratched the surface. And I'd bet that Gene is willing to talk right about now. He lost almost everything, and I'd bet he'd talk now if asked. His sidekick was fired, too, but Dugan's unreliable.

Hint: it won't be pretty, Andre.

Anonymous said...

Many major universities have this same degree progam......we are not living in 1953 anymore, Beaver.

Anonymous said...

Online degrees from reputable institutions almost always require some on-campus attendance and monitoring.

Anonymous said...

Indianapolis Star publishing this information??? Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

Hey, is all the information in this post from original reporting by Advanve Indiana? Or is there a primary source like a newspaper article or something?

Advance Indiana said...

"Hey, is all the information in this post from original reporting by Advanve Indiana? Or is there a primary source like a newspaper article or something?"

The story is based on a public records request obtained by me from the Indiana State Excise Police and a telephone interview I conducted with Supt. Huskey. Does that answer your question?

Anonymous said...

Hey AI, you rock! That's an AWESOME story.

Who needs newspapers!?!

Anonymous said...

I hope you do realize that not everything you read in the newspaper and see on tv are true. The truth has never been told. Newman spent alot of taxpayers money that was not necessary. He had it out for the Chief and others. He of course was on a mission along with some of his Rep. friends to destroy certain people. He accomplished his mission several times over at taxpayers expense. What goes around comes around, who's sick now!!!

Edwin said...

The idiot who said Indiana Wesleyan is a diploma mill perhaps couldn't get into the school. ALL schools are a matter of endurance. 80% of going to ANY medical school or business school is a matter of endurance while intellectual horsepower accounts for 20%. I know Wharton MBAs who don't have common sense, and I know countless GED graduates who think like some MBAs should. No you idiot, Indiana Wesleyan may not be Harvard or MIT, but that does not mean that the school hands out MBAs just because one attends class and leaves their brains elsewhere like you did when you wrote your comment. Maybe Rockville University will sell you an MBA. They sell them for a couple of grand. But then, you may not have that because you only finished kindergarten and have not fully realized your earning potential just yet.

...inconsolable said...

Indiana Wesleyan degrees are a joke - you aren't even required to take the GMAT before enrolling - and they accept ANY undergrad degree as a prerequisite - even a tech school!