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Friday, December 04, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - More on "Five Lake officials await ruling on state conflicts law"

Updating this lengthy Nov. 20th ILB post, which began:

In 2012 the General Assembly passed a law, commonly referred to as the "anti-nepotism law," generally prohibiting local government employees from serving as elected officials of governments they work for and banning relatives from supervising relatives in local government jobs. The ILB has had a number of posts on this issue, but not recently.

As it turns out, the law remains a big issue in Lake County.

But yesterday, as Teresa Auch Schultz reports in the Gary Post-Trbune, "Lake County pols lose bid to keep office and municipal jobs." The long story begins:
A federal judge ruled against five elected officials in Lake County seeking through a lawsuit to keep both their jobs and their political seats.

U.S. District Judge Philip Simon said in his order dismissing the lawsuit Thursday that the state of Indiana had shown it had a compelling interest to pass a law banning elected officials from working for the governments they represented.

The state passed the law in 2012 with the intention of ending elected officials from voting on their own salaries and benefits. The law was grandfathered for then-current office holders until Jan. 1, when any elected official still working for their town or city would automatically lose their job.

"It strikes me as entirely reasonable for the General Assembly to have wanted to avoid a situation where elected officials are allowed to feather their own nests," Simon said in his ruling.

Simon also pointed to other possible situations of a conflict of interest, such as a police officer voting on whether police should wear body cameras.

"Judge agrees five Lake pols must give up one of two paychecks" is the headline to Bill Dolan's NWI Times story on the ruling, that concludes:
Simon stated this new law doesn't impose unconstitutional burdens on the five defendants who can run for office anywhere but in their hometowns. He said it is similar to other constitutional laws forbidding felons from holding public office or requiring officials to live within their community.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 4, 2015 09:06 AM
Posted to Ind Fed D.Ct. Decisions | Indiana Government