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Ethics ruling keeps Daniels clear for Purdue job

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Gov. Mitch Daniels' selection as Purdue University's next president by a panel he appointed doesn't violate state ethics rules, Indiana's top ethics official says.

Inspector General David Thomas, who was also appointed by the Republican governor, ruled this week that Daniels did not violate conflict-of-interest rules by taking the job because state law requires the governor to oversee Indiana's seven public colleges, including Purdue, and appoint university trustees.

"The investigatory resolution of this issue is clear," Thomas wrote. "The (conflict of interest) rule is not violated if the action is required by that public official through another specific statutory duty."

Purdue's 10 trustees, all of whom were appointed or reappointed by Daniels, selected the governor in June to become the university's 12th president. He will take office in January once his second term as governor ends.

Thomas' ruling, reported by the Journal & Courier on Thursday, is the second informal opinion addressing Daniels' hire.

Daniels in August requested a ruling on whether the state's post-employment rules and restrictions on lobbying applied to him. That came after Thomas and Tim Grogg, the Indiana Department of Administration's executive director of executive branch lobbying, determined that Daniels would not be barred from lobbying the Legislature once he becomes Purdue president.

In the latest ruling, released Wednesday by the governor's office, Thomas said the governor was not subject to the required one-year "cooling off" period because he never negotiated a contract between the state and Purdue.

However, Daniels cannot represent or help Purdue in a matter that he personally participated in as governor, Thomas said. Those would include investigations, applications, business transactions, lawsuits, economic development projects or public works projects.

None of those issues were presented to Thomas for review.

If any arise, Thomas said, Daniels should seek an advisory opinion from the State Ethics Commission.

Thomas also found no support for a complaint filed by Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary. Brown had asked Thomas to look into whether Daniels wrongly used state property for personal reasons by instructing his staff to send an email on a state mailing list Sept. 4 stating that he wanted a $380,000 renovation of the Purdue president's office stopped.

Thomas said it would be hard to prove that Daniels and his staff weren't engaging in "official state business" by commenting on state university activities.

Thomas's opinions are not binding because only the full ethics commission can make a binding ruling.

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  • The reason you don't see the employment contract
    I suspect the reason we don't see an employment contract is that the contract gives Mitch millions while he sells parts of Purdue to his business friends. But, wow...stupid people believe what Mitch says and ignore what he does.
  • Cronyism
    Mitch will probably do a good job, but the ends don't justify the means. The appears to be cronyism pure and simple. My private sector job requires yearly ethics training, and we are required to avoid even the perception of impropriety. Why aren't our elected officials held to the same standard?
  • Conflict of interest
    Several things pop up here that seem unethical to me. Were the appointments by the governor to Purdue's Board of Trustees conditioned on their agreement to select the governor for the Purdue President's position? For any Inspector General appointed by the governor that then investigates charges against the governor seems to be an obvious conflict of interest. Another conflict of interest, and perhaps the major one, is that Daniels would accept the Purdue President's job knowing the appearance of conflict of interest on the part of the Board of Trustees he's created with his appoints of them to Purdue's Board. Something smells fishy here.
  • Muck Fitch ba Ditch
    Cronyism pure and simple.
  • Who is David Thomas' boss?
    Who appointed David Thomas as Inspector General? Answer from Indiana Code: "Indiana Code 4-2-7-2. Inspector general; powers and duties; appointment and removal; reappointment; compensation IC 4-2-7-2 (c) The GOVERNOR shall appoint the inspector general." Anyone surprised? Sounds a whole lot like the Purdue Board of Trustees appointment/subsequent hire of your man Mitch.

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