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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - Bosma wants to close ethics waiver loophole for certain public employees leaving state government

Tony Cook and Ryan Sabalow report today for the Indianapolis Star in a long story that begins:

House Speaker Brian Bosma said Tuesday he wants to close a loophole in the state’s ethics laws that allows state employees to avoid public scrutiny when they take jobs with companies they regulate.

His comments suggest that a pledge from House Republicans to take up ethics reform during the upcoming legislative session may extend beyond the rules governing lawmakers and include new requirements for the executive branch as well.

At issue is a state law that requires state employees to take at least a year off before working as a lobbyist or going to work for companies they once regulated. The law is intended to prevent companies from dangling lucrative jobs in front of state employees to ease regulations or get a bigger share of public money.

But an Indianapolis Star investigation in August found that more than 100 state employees have taken advantage of a loophole that allows state agency heads to grant employees a waiver from the cooling-off period.

“I was personally surprised by the number of internal waivers that have been granted that there was not a public meeting about,” Bosma said Tuesday. “They were put in somebody’s file folder, and there was no public discussion. One of my intentions is to have those waivers go through the ethics commission.”

The Star found that waivers have been issued 102 times since 2005. By comparison, state employees, concerned about potential conflicts with job prospects, have sought formal, binding advisory opinions from the ethics commission 73 times during those years. * * *

Bosma’s comments Tuesday suggest the scope of the reforms likely will include the executive branch as well.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 19, 2014 10:13 AM
Posted to Indiana Government