The other day, I described the irony of Illinois' new Republican governor touting the role of a former high-ranking Daniels official he chose to become general counsel in his administration in guiding ethics reform in Indiana. A press release issued by Bruce Rauner noted Jason Barclay's "particularly sharp focus on public ethics, helping guide one of the nation's most comprehensive and highly regarded integrity and compliance programs." The Star's Tony Cook pens a story highlighting five big loopholes in Indiana's ethics laws Barclay helped craft when he formerly served as legal counsel in Daniels administration that shatters that claim.
1. Write your own ethics law. Cook reminds us that the inspector general's office investigation of former Supt. of Education Tony Bennett observed that had Bennett adopted a policy allowing his employees to use state resources for political resources his actions would not have violated state ethics rules.
2. Obtain an ethics waiver without the public knowing. Indiana supposedly has a one-year cooling off period before state employees can accept employment with businesses they regulate or to which they've participated in a decision to award contract; however, an employee can skirt that requirement by privately obtaining a written waiver from his or supervisor without any input from the state ethics commission.
3. Advise the state on policies that could affect your other clients, get paid by both. State employees are barred from taking outside employment involving divided loyalties, but those same restrictions don't apply to independent contractors employed by state agencies to protect against conflicts of interest.
4. Lawmakers can privately lobby other lawmakers on legislation affecting their businesses. This loophole was highlighted when former State Rep. Eric Turner was cleared of ethics violations when he successfully lobbied fellow lawmakers in private against a bill placing a moratorium on construction of new nursing homes shortly before selling his family's nursing home business in a multi-billion dollar deal.
5. Partial disclosure of private business interests. Financial disclosure statements must include all partnerships and limited liability companies in which a lawmaker or his spouse are a member, but he need not disclose secondary businesses controlled by those same entities.
What is insane is often that these knuckleheads who do this carp could be changed with Honest Services Fraud but since the U.S. Attorney's Office is useless in this state it hasn't meant anything! Troy Woodruff, Mitch Roob, Roy Templeton, and especially Tony Bennett should be indicted by for honest services fraud! Wake up Indiana and show these dirtbags the door!
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