“With the recent news in the Indianapolis Star about more troubles swirling around the IEDC, it is becoming apparent that the agency that is supposed to help us create jobs is broken. It needs to be fixed.
“The investigation surrounding ‘The China Letter’ leaves many questions unanswered, in particular about the way that the IEDC handles its affairs as a part of state government.
“These concerns are not new. For years, there have been doubts raised about the accuracy of the job creation claims made by the governor and this agency.
“Their method of operation has become all too familiar: Make a big public announcement about large numbers of jobs that are coming, then disappear when the claims turn out to be inaccurate.
“Even before the recent controversies about Litebox in Indianapolis, Carbon Motors in Connersville, and Global Energy Solutions in Madison, there have been investigations – particularly by WTHR-TV in Indianapolis – questioning whether many of the numbers touted by the administration were even close to being correct.
“The current administration that helped create these problems is on its way out of office. It is content to sit back in its final days and make grand claims about job creation. The governor and his staff will be long gone before we see if those claims become reality.
“But with a new governor taking office in a few short weeks, there is plenty of time to see what has gone wrong, and work to improve our job creation efforts.
“To start, we can ask that the IEDC follow the same types of public oversight and accountability that we demand of all state government agencies. After all, we are talking about an agency that has the power to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded incentives.
“In addition, we have gone far too long in sitting by and letting this particular department make big claims about the numbers of jobs it creates, without any way to determine whether they are telling the truth or simply a story that makes good headlines initially. Upon taking office, Gov.-elect Mike Pence should examine all recent jobs announcements to determine their validity, then report back to the people of Indiana about his findings.
“Despite all the claims made by the current administration, Indiana lags behind when it comes to creating and keeping good-paying jobs.
“The time has come to demand that the IEDC live up to its charge, and stop hiding behind a shroud of secrecy.”
According to the Star investigation, Monica Liang, a Chinese immigrant, had been contractually hired by the agency as a $100,000 per year special assistant to former Commerce Secretary Mitch Roob. Liang allegedly accepted a $50,000 wire transfer from a Chinese billionaire with whom the agency was in discussions about economic development efforts and had solicited an $8,000 bribe from another Chinese businessman while working for the agency. A complaint filed with the agency by another vendor of the agency claimed Liang had told Chinese officials several state officials were shareholders in a nursing home project she was pursuing in Marion, Indiana, including Roob and Gov. Daniels. The agency dismissed the complaint as unsubstantiated but terminated Liang after it discovered she had lied on her resume' about her education credentials. Despite the seriousness of the allegations contained in the complaint, the matter was not referred to a prosecutor or law enforcement agency for further investigation.
UPDATE: The administration of Mike Pence will give added scrutiny to the IEDC, even if the Daniels administrations chooses not to do so. The Star has this statement from Pence:
“The governor-elect is aware of the issues that have been raised in the media regarding IEDC,” Pence’s spokeswoman Christy Denault said in a statement Monday. “He will give due consideration to the policies and practices of IEDC at the outset of his administration to ensure integrity and transparency.”