Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Gary Lawmaker Calls For Ethics Probe Into Daniels' Purdue Move

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Gov. Mitch Daniels addresses the Indiana Education Roundtable in December 2011. He will soon be the president of Purdue University.

A state lawmaker wants the Indiana Inspector General to officially clarify what Gov. Mitch Daniels can and cannot do as he transitions into his new role as president of Purdue University.

Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, filed a formal ethics complaint Wednesday saying Daniels violated state rules by using a governor’s office email list of statewide media to send a press release responding to concerns about the cost of renovations to his new office on-campus in West Lafayette.

“This is partisan nonsense,” Daniels spokesperson Jane Jankowski responded in a statement, adding, “as governor, he could very legitimately and properly comment about university expenditures at Purdue or elsewhere.”

But Brown says he filed the complaint to elicit a ruling from the state’s Ethics Commission that would set boundaries for Daniels — including an official edict on whether Daniels can lobby state officials on Purdue’s behalf.

“We have never had this unique situation where a sitting governor is, in another two or three months, going to transition into the role as president [of a public university]. That’s why the Ethics Committee needs to make a clear and concise decision as to whether there are appropriate or inappropriate positions being taken by Mitch Daniels,” Brown told StateImpact Wednesday.

Daniels signed an executive order creating Indiana’s “revolving door” or “cooling off” rule in 2005. The regulation prevents any former member of the Indiana General Assembly from being “registered as a lobbyist… or employed as a legislative liaison” for one full year after his term ends.

But in August, Indiana Inspector General David Thomas issued an “informal advisory opinion” concurring with the state’s director of executive branch lobbying: State ethics rules would not prevent Daniels from lobbying for Purdue.

As Daniels told WFIU in August:

Indiana had one of the weakest ethics situations in the country when we first came to office and one of the first things — on the first day — I did was, by executive order, created 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. But no, it appears there is absolutely no issue. I keep sending back questions just to make triple certain, but it appears that there’s just no issue at all.

Steven Yang / Purdue University

Gov. Mitch Daniels, soon to be Purdue's 12th president.

But Brown contends Daniels was out-of-bounds in sending an e-mail blast to statewide press responding to Purdue’s $380,000 office renovations. As Brown told StateImpact on Wednesday, it wasn’t clear he was using state resources for his role as governor:

There is still this cloud over [Daniels] — still a sitting governor, and yet taking on some of the duties of president of Purdue. The most glaring example is the remodeling of the President’s office at Purdue and he steps in to halt that project. Well, was he doing that in his role as governor or as incoming president of Purdue? And there still seems to be a mixing of duties and responsibilities there. So I think that’s an example of things that really need to be clarified.

Brown personally feels Daniels should not be allowed to lobby on Purdue’s behalf. Brown notes Daniels appointed eight of the ten Purdue trustees who ultimately hired him.

But Daniels spokesperson Jane Jankowski says the Inspector General already addressed Brown’s concerns in his August letter, and “now resources will have to be wasted disposing of this silly charge.”


  • Joe Perkins

    It all comes back to the Purdue Board of Trustee’s lack of judgment in selecting an in-state politician as Purdue’s next president. Rep. Brown was correct in blowing the whistle as the entire appointment has been unethical.

  • Bob Eckert

    The very idea that Purdue’s trustees, 80% of which were -appointed- by Daniels
    can sit back and say they were not biased and perhaps obligated to name Damiels the next president of Purdue is beyond ludicrous. Anyone who thinks this is a proper selection to head one of the education jewels of Indiana is a fool.

    • Joe Perkins

      Well said, Mr. Eckert!

    • Lisa Rozgony

      I agree with you 100% and thank you for shedding some light on this unethical situation and obvious example of cronyism.

  • Purdue Watchdog

    It is amazing that it has come to this.

    How can Mitch Daniels act blissfully unaware of his own words and intent in regards to ethics?

    Why does he need to hide behind lawyers to interpret his own executive order on ethics?

    Is it that he simply doesn’t find it personally convenient to hold himself to the same standards he demanded of tens of thousands of state employees and appointees?

    Why is there even a question if he will follow his own directive laid down in 2005?

    • Joe Perkins

      Where are we with this ethics complaint? Gov. Daniels believes that if he ignores all the complaints and skeptics, they will go away. How convenient of him to now use gov. vacation todays as a Presidential ‘Trainee’.

      Sorry, Gov, we all know how crafty you are but it is just not going to fly this time. You can only fool some of the people all the time. If you care about Purdue’s leadership, join us on Facebook at the SOAP Page (Society for an Open Accountable Purdue).

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