The ethics rules Mitch Daniels created shouldn’t bar the governor from lobbying for Purdue University. But the governor says he’s still asking questions after two state ethics experts gave him the all clear.
“I keep sending back questions to make triple certain, but it appears there’s just no issue at all,” Daniels told WFIU‘s Sara Wittmeyer.
The governor is headed to Purdue University when his term expires in January. When the Board of Trustees announced his selection in June, we asked if Daniels would be subject to a one-year “cooling off” period before he could advocate on behalf of the university.
Daniels wondered, too. He asked for opinions from David Thomas, inspector general, and Tim Grogg, the director of executive branch lobbying. Both told the governor they saw no conflict, though only the full ethics commission can write an official opinion. That’s what Daniels is seeking now. He says:
Indiana had one of the weakest ethics situations in the country when we first came to the office. And one of the first things on the first day I did by executive order was create a ‘revolving door’ rule and an inspector general to enforce that, as well as whistleblower protections and other things. We later fought that through into law. You can imagine I’m extremely conscious of staying way within all such boundaries.
It’s unlikely that the governor will cross any of those lines, at least not legally. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t lingering opposition to Daniels’ selection.
“It does seem strange that Daniels was hired by a board filled largely with people he appointed,” writes Indianapolis Star columnist Matthew Tully. “The issue is mitigated by the fact that landing Daniels is a huge boost to, and a dream hire for, the school.”
Purdue alumni and West Lafayette resident Aaron Hoover felt so strongly about Daniels leading the school he organized a protest to ask the Board of Trustees to reconsider.
“Ethical people avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest,” he told StateImpact.