Democrat: Indiana Statehouse lacks ethics

Democratic candidate for auditor Mike Claytor motioned to the Statehouse on Tuesday and said ethics "left the building," as he ran down a list of high-profile investigations that have resulted in little if any punishment.

Claytor, who is running to be one of the state's chief fiscal officers, said he would work to fight public corruption if elected and promised to abstain from the ethical lapses uncovered by recent investigations.

"Things have gone terribly wrong when appointed and elected officials arrogantly move forward with no thought about problems with getting caught in what they are doing," Claytor said.

A trio of ethics investigations into Indiana officials this year left many watchdogs grumbling about loopholes in the state's ethics laws.

Former Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett was fined $5,000 in July for using public resources to campaign for re-election in 2012, but Inspector General David Thomas determined he could have avoided a fine altogether by rewriting the law to allow moderate campaigning through his state office.

House Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner, R-Cicero, was cleared of wrongdoing after lobbying in private against legislation that would have cost him and his family millions in profits. But members of the House Ethics Committee determined his actions exposed problems in their own ethics rules and promised to fix them.

Former Indiana Department of Transportation Chief of Staff Troy Woodruff left his job at the state one day before a lengthy investigation of his involvement in land deals profiting him and his family was issued by the inspector general's office. Thomas found he had not violated any ethics laws, but said Woodruff walked right up to the line with his actions.

Recent news reports have also exposed conflicts for state Rep. Todd Huston, who worked as Bennett's top adviser while also working for a Department of Education contractor, and for the architect of Indiana's proposed Medicaid alternative, who also consults for one of the top contractors with the department that administers Medicaid.

Claytor is running against Republican Auditor Suzanne Crouch in November's election. He is one of handful of Democratic candidates who have proposed ethics reforms.

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