Bringing Accountability Back to Indiana

I have been following the investigation into Governor Daniels’ alleged misuse of state property (RV1) at a Republican fundraiser. Rather than try to add something new to the topic — I think everything worth saying has been said already — I’ll give a quick rundown of the events.

My Man Mitch, honorable governor of our Hoosier state, pushed hard for the creation of the office of Inspector General. The AP put it this way in a March 21 report (no link):

Daniels created the post of inspector general by executive order, but legislation to give that official prosecutorial powers ran into serious trouble in the House. Democrats are outnumbered 52-48 in that chamber, but claimed the bill would allow a governor to conduct political witch hunts.

It was among several bills and actions House Democrats claimed were GOP-power grabs. They killed that and 131 other bills by boycotting the floor during a deadline day for legislation to clear its house of origin.

But House Republicans revived that legislation in a Senate bill, the parties worked out some compromises, and it passed the House unanimously last week.

Here’s an excerpt from his April 13 press release (no link):

“[…]We are creating a culture that encourages state employees to seek advice and report wrongdoing, as well as an understanding that rules will be enforced and unethical behavior is unacceptable,” said Daniels.

A seemingly inocuous article in the Courier & Press on July 20 led with this:

Gov. Mitch Daniels stopped by in his RV1 to stump for Rep. Troy Woodruff at a Vincennes fundraiser to cap off a day of events in Southwestern Indiana.

People who made the $25 per family donation to get into the Woodruff fish fry on Tuesday lined up to shake hands and get pictures with the governor, tour RV1 and even have him autograph a copy of “Notes from the Road,” a collection of the writings Daniels posted on his campaign Web site while touring the state.

Democrats seized on the apparent use of RV1 — which, according to My Man Mitch, is state property:

When questioned in April, Daniels said the RV, which is worth about $175,000, does not run afoul of his administration’s ethics rules because it was not a personal gift to him but rather a gift to the state for his use.

Democrats filed an ethics complaint with Daniels’ own inspector general’s office. My Man Mitch, determined to restore honesty and accountability to Indiana politics, responded in a characteristically classy manner:

“Here’s what I really find interesting … that the once-proud Democratic Party has been reduced to this,” Daniels said. “They only stand for what they say they’re against and seem to exist only for the purpose of attacking me personally.

The inspector appointed in this case, “Bud” Allcron, is wrapping up the investigation. [Late addition: Allcron is a retired State Police detective who was worked a number of high profile cases, including the “Angel of Death” Orville Lynn Majors case and the 1968 murder of Carol Jenkins in Martinsville (as a cold case).]

This great editorial in the Courier & Press from July 31 hits the nail on the head (well worth the free registration):

The irony may not be appreciated in the governor’s office, but who would have thought that an early target of the state’s new inspector general would be the very person who pushed so hard to create the post?

[…] But no matter how the case turns out, it’s likely to leave the perception that a governor who showed great concern for the ethics of the previous administration has a blind spot when it comes to his own.

Other Indiana blogs have done a great job on this story (and others). The highlights:

  • taking down words uses Daniels’ own words to hang him.
  • taking down words on the potential conflict of interest in following up the investigation.
  • Liberal Indiana shows how Daniels brought his White House-style financial honesty to the Hoosier State.