Gov Mitch Daniels' Assistant Chief of Staff Betsy Burdick and his liaison to Indiana's military, Andrew Norris, thought it would be cool to take a trip down to Camp Atterbury today on a Black Hawk helicopter that would have cost taxpayers $10,000 until someone tipped off WTHR's Sandra Chapman. Gov. Daniels pleaded ignorance of the planned trip when confronted about it by Chapman and then suggested the cost would be borne by federal and not state taxpayers before running off. Shortly before Chapman's story was scheduled to air, a National Guard spokesman contacted her to advise her that the planned flight was not happening.
Based on an itinerary obtained by 13 Investigates, Betsy Burdick, Daniels' assistant chief of staff, and Andrew Norris, the governor's liaison to Indiana military, would have boarded a UH-60 just after 8:00 am for a 30-minute flight from Stout Field to Camp Atterbury where they were to meet awaiting tour buses. Once at Camp Atterbury, the two visitors would have been escorted by Major General Umbarger and were set to board the aircraft again around noon for a 30-minute ride to the Muscatatuck Urban Training Ground. Three hours later, the entourage was scheduled to return to Indianapolis.
The four 30-minute jaunts would have cost about $10,000. Now we've learned that the flight has been canceled.
Guard Spokesman Major Shawn Gardner contacted 13 Investigates late Monday to say that the flight was not happening. He defended the flight plan, saying that National Guard regulations allow the practice for key policy makers, government employees and contractors who perform services in direct support of the Guard's mission. Major Gardner also says these flights serve as operational airlift missions for crew training requirements.