WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Two state ethics rulings have concluded that
Gov. Mitch Daniels can lobby the state Legislature for university funding
and other matters once he becomes Purdue University’s president next year.
After Daniels was chosen as Purdue’s next president in June, questions were
raised about whether a one-year “cooling off period” required by the State
Ethics Code would apply to him when he assumed his new post in January.
The code bars former public employees from working as lobbyists for a year
after leaving a state job.
But opinions released Friday by state Inspector General David Thomas and Tim
Grogg, the Indiana Department of Administration’s executive director of
executive branch lobbying, found that no restrictions will apply to Daniels
after he becomes Purdue president.
The Journal & Courier reported Saturday that Thomas, who was appointed by
Daniels in 2005, wrote that a state officer or employee leaving the
executive branch is not restricted from lobbying the Legislature.
The employee would be barred from lobbying the executive branch, Thomas
But Grogg, in his opinion, pointed out that university officials are not
considered executive branch lobbyists, according to state code.
Daniels’ ability to lobby the Legislature as Purdue president will be a
boost to the school because funding appropriations for Purdue and the
state’s six other public colleges will be determined next year as part of
the state’s biennial budget.
Jake Oakman, a spokesman for Daniels, said both opinions were sought because
the inspector general has the sole authority to interpret the Indiana Code
The Department of Administration’s executive director of executive branch
lobbying is responsible for all executive branch lobbying matters.
The opinions, however, are not binding, because only the full ethics
commission can issue an official advisory opinion, Thomas noted.
Despite the two opinions in his favor, Daniels has requested further
clarification from Thomas on all rules that apply to his exit from state
A letter sent to Thomas on Friday from Daniels’ general counsel asks for an
informal advisory opinion on all post-employment rules and restrictions.
“The governor wants to fully understand all post-employment provisions to
ensure full compliance,” the letter stated.
Kerwin Olson, executive director of Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana,
was not impressed with the opinions released Friday.
“This begs the
question of what purpose does the ethics commission serve?” he said. “Sounds
like Indiana taxpayer dollars are being wasted on an agency without a
function except for a rubber stamp.”