Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Daniels' Administration Bends Travel Rules For Rhoad

A last-minute move by the outgoing state budget director is likely to ignite another round of criticism towards FSSA Secretary Mitch Roob and the Daniels' administration. You may recall that Richard Rhoad, the former chief financial officer for FSSA, departed the administration after a controversy erupted over $13,700 in travel reimbursements Roob allowed paid to Rhoad for travel between his home in Fort Wayne and his job in Indianapolis. State personnel rules clearly prohibit such payments unless the state budget director and the director of the Department of Administration approve the payments. An earlier request by Roob was turned down but he paid Rhoad the expenses anyway. Niki Kelly of the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette reports what happened next:

In July 2005, the Department of Administration notified the state auditor to cease further travel reimbursements to Rhoad because an exception had not been granted.

The inspector general concurred with the State Board of Accounts that Rhoad was not entitled to travel reimbursement and joined in a request for reimbursement that was given to FSSA on May 2 to allow it a response before the report was released to the public.

Instead, Roob submitted an additional request for an exception on May 29 to outgoing State Budget Director Charles Schalliol and Department of Administration Commissioner Carrie Henderson.

The exception was subsequently approved by both, and the investigation was closed, according to Inspector General David Thomas.

Henderson said she wasn’t there for the initial denial in 2005, but she reviewed the follow-up request and determined that Rhoad had operated in good faith, based on what his superiors told him.

“I don’t think we needed to hold him responsible,” Henderson said. “It was a pass-through expense that didn’t enrich (Rhoad). When the improper reimbursements were identified, they were stopped.”

Schalliol did not return calls Tuesday for comment.

Roob’s only comment was, “The report is self-explanatory.”

As Kelly points out in her article, Rhoad's job originally became a source of friction after it was learned that Roob had improperly signed a personal services contract with him which allowed him to collect $180,000 annually, plus housing and travel reimbursement, instead of the original $100,000 state job he had been given. Rhoad quit his job after Kelly first reported on the arrangement. Democrats' reaction was not surprising. Inspector General Thomas' report said nothing about this arrangement. “This is like the world’s longest whitewash,” said Jennifer Wagner, spokeswoman for the state Democrats. “It shows yet again (the inspector general) is nothing more than a partisan prosecutor who does the governor’s bidding and doesn’t act in a fair and impartial way.”

It is beyond belief that Inspector Thomas would not cite Roob for anything after he defied the original application for an exception for Rhoad and paid Rhoad's expenses anyway. Again, this is further evidence the Daniels' administration is being duplicitous when it comes to ethics in state government. Gov. Daniels promised a cleaner and more honest and open government. It just seems those requirements don't apply to those closest to him.


Wilson46201 said...

As George Bush just said to Scooter Libby and Dick Cheney: "It's OK if you're a Republican!"

Anonymous said...

Or in the case of Bill Clinton in regard to perjuring yourself where there was no crime committed, "It's OK if you're a Democrat!" Oh wait, gosh, maybe it's okay if you are a politician?

Anonymous said...

I just don't get this whole right-wing talking-point rehashing of Clinton, et al

Lest we forget, Scooter got memory lapse when being asked about a specific breech of national security and potential outright breaking of multiple chapters of the US Code vis-a-vis the CIA employee being outed. Yeah, you can argue about that all you want, but it's true.

There's no freaking way W was going to let Scooter get close to a jail cell. Because then, his memory might get, uh, better.

When Clinton lied, no one died. And he was not convicted. Fine point, granted, but important. A jurt of Scooter's peers found him guilty of five counts of obstruction of justice and perjury. In a Republican judge's court. And the sentence was upheld by a 2-1 Republican federal appeals court. And a federal sentcing guideline.

Mitch promised better. Shame on him for this arrangement getting a wink and a nod. It was disgraceful. And it fails to pass the smell test.

But, then, he learned at the right hand of Reagan and W, so...don't ever forget, for a brief while, in Reagan's White House, Mitch held the job now held by Rove.

Just sayin'...