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Daniels admits judgment error in think tank speech

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Purdue University President Mitch Daniels admitted Thursday he made an error in judgment by delivering a paid speech at a fundraiser for a conservative Minnesota think tank after promising to avoid partisan politics while at the helm of the university.

In a public letter published online by the Journal & Courier, Daniels said his appearance in Minneapolis on Monday for The Center of the American Experiment belonged among the dozens of others he has turned down because the potential downsides outweighed the opportunity to promote Purdue.

"I conclude that better judgment would have been to decline," Indiana's former governor wrote.

Some Purdue faculty members have questioned the speech because Daniels has said repeatedly he would avoid partisan activities while Purdue's president.

"I accept the validity of the criticism and will try to avoid similar judgment errors in the future," Daniels wrote.

Daniels said his speech covered the themes of delivering basic services effectively, bringing people together across political lines, the importance of civility in public discourse, and "the centrality of social mobility and opportunity for the yet-to-haves in our society as goals of public policy."

"I would like to assure those concerned that I gave a scrupulously nonpartisan speech, as I had told the hosts was a requirement of my acceptance," he said.

Daniels hasn't disclosed how much he was paid at the request of organizers of the fundraiser. He said he'll use the honorarium to help fund scholarships that he and his wife, Cheri, are providing to Purdue students.

He said he complied with every rule of his contract as president and university policy.

Daniels traveled on a Purdue plane to Minneapolis for the speech and then to Newark, N.J., to take part Tuesday in NBC News' Education Nation panel in New York City.

The chairman of the Purdue Board of Trustees, Tom Spurgeon, said Daniels' use of the school plane was appropriate and Purdue benefits when he appears on news shows and at conferences and events.

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  • So what?
    So what? I mean, why is it not a problem until Republicans do it? University Presidents do that all the time, and most are Democrats.
  • Mitch
    Mitch did very well for the State of Indiana and I would expect him to do well for Purdue. He is entitled to use Purdue aircraft as it helps further the reputation of this great university. Who cares about his speech- so not important in the overall scheme of life. Based on the few comments by others here, it doesn't matter what Mitch says or does as you already have your minds made up that he is a loser. Too bad none of you are good enough for the jobs he has held...
  • EGO
    Mitch has always thought he can do anything.
  • Crafty
    Ole' Mitch is now using another stratgy to cover up his deceitful ways. Now he is deploying the "it's easier to get forgiveness than permission" approach. Kinda like our own Gomer Pyle, aw-shucks folks. Mitch Daniels knows exactly what he is doing and uses a very full bag of tricks to cover his tracks,.
  • Problem with Mitch
    Like or hate his politics, the REAL problem Purdue is facing is that it's all coverage about Mitch, not Purdue, not the things he's doing to foster academic growth, etc. He's a lightning rod of a university president, for a school that generally shuns that sort of thing. I think the school and Mitch would be better off if they parted ways.
  • Yawn.
  • Bagger Mitch
    How ironic that Mitch gets religion after the public finds out he violated his personal commitment to Purdue and the people of Indiana he mislead with his promise to stay above the politics. I cannot say I am surprised that Mitch sold out so soon, because I am not surprised at all.
  • Ethics
    Time for Mitch Daniels to reimburse Purdue for personal use of the jet, release transcript/video of the speech and disclose the amount of dollars raised. This is not the first time there has been concerns of Mitch Daniels abusing aircraft privileges at taxpayer expense http://www.wndu.com/home/headlines/27726584.html

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