INDOT staffer in ethics case seeks new work

A top Indiana transportation official who is under investigation for land sales that benefited his family is considering taking an executive job at an engineering firm that bids for state work.

Indiana Department of Transportation Chief of Staff Troy Woodruff is seeking a formal opinion from the State Ethics Commission on whether he can work at transportation contractor RQAW. The panel is set to meet Thursday, when it will also consider a proposed settlement in the ethics case against former Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett.

Woodruff wrote to the ethics commission on June 30 asking for approval of a job "screening" procedure designed to eliminate any appearance of impropriety should he accept a job with RQAW.

"At this point in the negotiation process, I am uncertain what all my potential job duties and responsibilities will entail; however, I would generally oversee transportation activities," Woodruff wrote to the panel. A copy of Woodruff's request was given to The Associated Press by staff for the ethics commission.

According to the state's public contracts search, RQAW has won more than $9.3 million in work from the state since 1999. State law requires a one-year "cooling off" period for state workers taking a private sector job doing the same work they do for the state. However, the ethics commission frequently waives the cooling off requirement.

Woodruff is under investigation for land along the Interstate 69 corridor that he and his family sold to the state. The Indianapolis Star reported last year that Woodruff, his father and his brother sold a 3-acre parcel to the state in 2010 for 30 percent more than they paid for it three years earlier. The paper also reported on Woodruff's efforts to get an important grade-change approved along the stretch of I-69 running by his family's property in Daviess County.

Gov. Mike Pence asked for the investigation last year shortly after the Star uncovered the Woodruff family's stake in the sales.

Inspector General David Thomas declined comment Monday on the status of the investigation. INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield also declined comment, saying INDOT would wait until Thursday's ethics hearing.

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