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November 14, 2013

Prosecutor to see if friendship keyed Ivy Tech job

Former Clay County sheriff got emails from chairman of board of trustees

INDIANAPOLIS — The state inspector general named a special prosecutor Thursday to investigate whether a friendship with an Ivy Tech trustee led to the preferential hiring of a former Indiana Department of Natural Resources chief as the statewide community college’s security chief.

Inspector General David Thomas appointed Posey County’s chief deputy prosecutor, Jonathan Parkhurst, to investigate the hiring of Rob Carter Jr., The Indianapolis Star reported.

Gov. Mike Pence had asked Thomas to investigate, but the inspector general recused himself, saying he has had a “friendly relationship” with Carter for 20 years. Thomas is a former Clay County prosecutor, and Carter is a former sheriff of the western Indiana county.

“This relationship makes an objective review of the allegations difficult, if not impossible,” Thomas wrote in a letter announcing he would step aside. “Under these circumstances, any associated decisions could make the determinations to appear suspect.”

V. Bruce Walkup, while the chairman of Ivy Tech board of trustees, sent a number of inappropriate emails to Carter’s DNR address, the Star reported last month. The emails included raunchy and sexist jokes and nude pictures.

Ivy Tech hired Carter as its chief security officer after Ivy Tech Trustee Walkup sent him an email strongly suggesting he would soon handling the college’s security issues, the Star reported. The job wasn’t posted until three months later.

The Ivy Tech position pays Carter $120,000 annually, a $10,800 raise from what he earned as DNR’s director.

Carter, while director of the DNR, extended special privileges to Walkup at least once last fall. He arranged a duck hunting trip with Walkup on public lands without going through a drawing required of other hunters, the Star reported. DNR officials said they are investigating whether any rules were broken.

Walkup resigned from the Ivy Tech board Oct. 21, the day after the Star’s report was published.

A telephone message seeking comment was left for an Ivy Tech spokesman. Ivy Tech officials have said they hired Carter because he was the strongest candidate.

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