News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

November 14, 2013

UPDATE: Ex-Indiana schools chief faces ethics complaint

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Former Indiana schools Superintendent Tony Bennett is accused of using state resources for political reasons in a complaint filed with the state’s ethics commission today.

The complaint from Inspector General David Thomas alleges Bennett improperly used state resources to engage in political fundraising, schedule campaign meetings and conduct other political or personal activity in violation of Indiana law. A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 9.

The move comes two months after The Associated Press reported Bennett kept multiple campaign databases on Department of Education servers and ordered his staff to dissect a speech by his Democratic opponent for inaccuracies last fall. Bennett’s computer calendar also included more than 100 entries labeled “campaign calls” between July 2011 and November 2012.

Bennett released a statement today saying he looks forward to working with the commission and Thomas’ office “to demonstrate proper adherence to state rules and guidelines.”

“Throughout my time in public service I made every effort to be cognizant of and to follow state rules and guidelines for elected officials,” Bennett said.

Indiana law prohibits state employees from engaging in political activity, including seeking contributions, while on duty or acting in an official capacity. It also bars state employees from working on anything outside their official job duties while on the clock, or ordering others to do so, and from using state resources for political purposes.

Violating the official duties law, known as the “ghost employment” statute, is a felony punishable by up to three years in prison.

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody issued a statement saying Bennett, a Republican, “led a culture of corruption by misleading Hoosiers and abusing the trust of the office to which he was elected.”

The documents are the latest trouble for Bennett, a national star in conservative education circles until his abrupt resignation as Florida’s education commissioner Aug. 1. His decision to step down followed outcry over an AP story showing he oversaw changes to Indiana’s school grading system in 2010 after learning that a school founded by a prominent GOP donor — and which he had consistently hailed as a top performer — had scored a C.

Bennett has previously denied instructing his staff to do campaign work and told the AP in September that one of the lists was used to make “thank you calls” on his own time after the 2012 election.

Bennett has said all the campaign calls were made on his own time and outside his office.

The campaign documents were found on Department of Education computers after Bennett lost the election to Democrat Glenda Ritz. They include an Aug. 28, 2012, email that Bennett sent to chief of staff Heather Neal and other aides from his state account directing them to review a campaign speech by Ritz.

“Below is a link to Glenda’s forum in Bloomington. It is 1:35 minutes. I would ask that people watch this and scrub it for every inaccuracy and utterance of stupidity that comes out of her mouth,” Bennett wrote in the email obtained by The Associated Press.

Three fundraising lists and a donor call list tailored for Bennett also were discovered on the computers. They include an expansive database of more than 6,500 party activists and volunteers created in 2009 by his then-communications director, Cam Savage. That list includes a footnote that it is licensed by Salesforce.com, the party’s fundraising tool, to the Indiana Republican State Committee.

Savage didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment today.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Raw: Deadly Taiwan Gas Leak Explosion Demoted Worker Shoots CEO, Kills Self Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo 49ers Open Posh, High-tech Stadium in California Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
NDN Video
Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity