Indiana House Democratic Caucus

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Pelath: State government ethics transparency? More like a haze of confusion

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July 10, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath from Michigan City issued the following statement in the wake of actions at today’s State Ethics Commission meeting:

“Here is the latest news from the effort to convince Hoosiers that our state government is transparent and accountable:

“Our former state Superintendent of Public Instruction uses high-powered lawyers to cut a deal in private that enables him to get off for the price of a used car.

“When we created these ethics watchdogs, I have to admit I never envisioned what they would become:  A bucket of paint to coat questionable actions of high ranking officials with pity, apologetic sympathy, or downright respectability. Even our State Inspector General has had enough. He wants to leave his post as soon as humanly possible.

 “Here, in a nutshell, is what drives people crazy about single-party rule.

“In too many instances, once a complaint or a request for an investigation is made, it disappears down the rat hole at the ethics commission. Ask for an update and you get told that the Inspector General cannot comment on pending cases. Then all is decided and you’re left wondering what happened.

“I will remind you that House Democrats made several attempts this past session to try and provide a better sense of transparency from some of these groups. For instance, we asked that both the Inspector General and the Attorney General do a better job keeping the public updated on cases that involve public trust and taxpayer dollars. We also attempted to open up the process by which highway appraisals and relocations are conducted.

“All of these efforts failed at the hand of one party that controls our entire state government.

“As a result, we end up with meetings like today, where everything gets decided away from the public’s eye, and no one is satisfied…except, of course, for the public officials who ride into the sunset with better things waiting for them in the next town.”

“We can do better.”

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