Friday, May 02, 2014

State's Inspector General Shows Forgiveness Once Again For High-Level Political Appointees

Whenever a high-level political appointee faces an ethics investigation by the state's Inspector General David Thomas, you can pretty much take it to the bank that his office will find a way of concluding that no wrongdoing occurred. Let any minor transgression by a low-level state employee come to his office's attention, and his office will move mountains and cross oceans to make sure that an employee is punished to the fullest extent of its powers, which can often include termination and a permanent bar to state employment. Nobody expected his office to do anything to former DNR Director Rob Carter, Jr. for exchanging raunchy e-mails with a board member of his future employer, Ivy Tech, and doling out special hunting favors to him on state lands in exchange for his assistance in helping him land a high-paying job at Ivy Tech, and it didn't. The Star reports on the predictable outcome in Carter's case:
The state’s watchdog agency cleared former Department of Natural Resources chief Rob Carter Jr. of wrongdoing concerning his hiring by Ivy Tech Community College, his receipt of raunchy emails on his work computer and his use of public hunting lands . . .
The investigation was launched after an Indianapolis Star story last fall revealed that, prior to being hired as chief security officer at Ivy Tech, Carter received and sometimes responded to several racy, sexist and inappropriate emails — including photos of naked women — sent by the then-chairman of Ivy Tech’s board. He also appeared to have taken the school’s chairman on a hunting trip on public lands without going through normal channels. 
The inspector general’s report determined that Carter broke no rules for the following reasons:
• The report found that, while Carter and V. Bruce Walkup, the former Ivy Tech chairman, did communicate about Carter’s future employment, there was no evidence of a quid pro quo. 
• The racy emails between Carter and Walkup didn’t violate any state policy, and there weren’t enough of them to run afoul of state rules forbidding excessive personal use of state computers. Walkup resigned this fall after The Star’s report. 
• While Carter did skip a lottery required of other hunters on a public land in September 2012, no rules were violated because all of the hunters who had gone through proper channels were allowed to hunt. In effect, Carter’s hunting party didn’t cut in line . . . 
The IG’s report didn’t address the content of the emails, but it said that Carter’s correspondence with Walkup was “consistent with the limited personal use policies regarding state computer usage in place at many state agencies.”
Vaughn said she finds it extremely hard to believe that a low-level state employee would be given a free pass on that many personal emails.
“To me, dozens and dozens of emails would exceed a limited use,” she said.
One of the emails The Star obtained showed that Walkup forwarded an internal Ivy Tech security issue to Carter, suggesting he would soon be dealing with security there. The email was sent three months before the chief security job was posted.
Carter was later hired for the $120,000 position, affording him a $10,800 raise — a hiring Ivy Tech officials say Walkup endorsed. 
Even so, Ivy Tech officials say Walkup had no say in the hiring process and that Carter was hired because he was the best candidate . . .
I think it's time to shut the Inspector General's Office down. Its existence seems to serve two purposes contrary to its supposed mission: punish whistle blowers and cover up public corruption committed by political appointees. I can't think of a single good thing David Thomas has done in the past decade. Next up will be a total whitewash of the criminal activity engaged in by former Superintendent of Education Tony Bennett and members of his executive staff, who blatantly used state resources and state time for performing prohibited campaign activities. That's not even a close call, but I'm sure Thomas' office will find a way to blur the lines between right and wrong. The same Barnes & Thornburg attorney called in to defend Carter will be holding court in Bennett's case. That's the only signal Thomas needs to understand what will be his job to do.


bjb said...

I am licensed in Kansas and lived there for about eight years. While that state has some ethics crashes from time to time, from what I have witnessed, and I served as a Dept AG and head of a division for four years, the justice is rather even handed and fairness is not too far away in most cases. SO NOT TRUE IN INDIANA. This state's government is seriously corrupt as I view it. I am mad as Hell about that, I hope that all reading along are as well.

Anonymous said...

Dave Thomas should legally change his name to "Sgt. Schultz"

Anonymous said...

This is absolute crap! The state all the time uses trumped up charges of internet abuse to fire state employees! Why Pence keeps this dirt bag on as IG is a mystery to many Indiana Republicans. Also since the governors office controls the IG of course they will not do anything to make them look bad! Thomas should be investigated himself he is so crooked he moonlights as a corkscrew!

Ghostwriter Judiciary said...

Look at the case Ghosh v. Ethics Commission, which I took all the way to the Supreme Court. Obviously, Thomas does the dirty work of state agencies when they are unable to succeed.