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Fundraiser lists, emails raise Bennett questions

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Former Indiana schools chief Tony Bennett faces scrutiny over the discovery of lists of Republican fundraisers on Department of Education servers and emails he sent directing staff to dissect a speech by Democrat Glenda Ritz.

An election law attorney says the fundraiser lists and an August 2012 email to aides including chief of staff Heather Neal appear to violate election and ethics laws prohibiting state employees from engaging in political activity while on duty. The rules also bar them from ordering others to do so and using state resources for political purposes.

Bennett denies any violations and says the fundraising lists were used to make "thank you calls" after the election.

Inspector General David Thomas says his office is investigating Bennett but won't discuss the nature of the probe.

Indiana law prohibits state employees from engaging in political activity, including seeking contributions, while on duty or acting in an official capacity. It also bars state employees from working on anything outside their official job duties while on the clock, or ordering others to do so, and from using state resources for political purposes.

It's rare to have officials prosecuted because finding proof of violations can be difficult. Complaints typically go to the state inspector general, then to prosecutors if charges appear warranted. Prosecutors also can launch investigations on their own.

In 1995, former Indiana Clerk of Courts Dwayne Brown was convicted of ghost employment for using state employees to help with his campaign for Congress. He received a three-year suspended sentence, was ordered to perform community service and lost his law license.

Former Indiana School Superintendent Harold Negley resigned in April 1985, two months before pleading guilty to charges of ghost employment and official misconduct. Negley and a top aide each received a one-year suspended sentence for using state employees to campaign on state time in Negley's 1984 re-election bid.

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  • You can bet on...
    ...the fact that Bennett, Daniels and the rest of these Republicons are the most corrupt politicians in a long line of corrupt Republicons...it's a pay-as-you-go system with these repugnantly corrupt criminals and their self-appointed judges allow them to get away with theft, literally
  • Seems guilty...
    I do hope our Inspector General looks at all the actions for awarding tax supported charter schools to political donors. We need to award schools with competitive bids and requirements as we do highways. Giving school tax dollars to politically connected friends is corruption. I see corruption in the charter school business.

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  1. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

  2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

  3. I live on the east side and I have read all your comments. a local paper just did an article on Washington square mall with just as many comments and concerns. I am not sure if they are still around, but there was an east side coalition with good intentions to do good things on the east side. And there is a facebook post that called my eastside indy with many old members of the eastside who voice concerns about the east side of the city. We need to come together and not just complain and moan, but come up with actual concrete solutions, because what Dal said is very very true- the eastside could be a goldmine in the right hands. But if anyone is going damn, and change things, it is us eastside residents

  4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

  5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.

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