Sunday, October 11, 2009

Did IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz Violate Indiana Law or University Ethics Rules in Using Public Resources to Influence an Election?

One of the basic rules virtually every public employee understands is that you are not to advocate or oppose a political cause or candidate while on the clock. Likewise public employees typically understand they cannot use public resources (e.g. computers, emails, etc.) to advocate or oppose a political cause or candidate.

These are apparently rules IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz does not understand.

This weekend, Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana noted that Chancellor Bantz has posted a full-page on IUPUI's website to promote a "Yes" vote on the Wishard referendum. On it he passes along the spin that this project which requires borrowing $613 million over 30 years (it's funny how he fails to mention the interest costs that pushes the project to well over $1 trillion). The bonds though are backed by property taxes, which Bantz fails to mention. He also fails to mention that there is no security whatsoever that taxes won't be raised for the project...a claim based solely based on promises made by Health and Hospital officials. It also assumes that the federal government won't crack down on HHC's nursing home Medicaid "scam" by which HHC is receiving the normal reimbursement from the federal government. The odds that this "scam" (which was identified that way by Mitch Roob, a Governor Daniels' administration official and former CEO of Health and Hospital) can be continued for 30 more years is wishful thinking.

It was bad enough that Chancellor Bantz has misused the IUPUI's website to promote a political cause. Apparently he is also now using the university's email system. IUPUI students have reported getting an email from Bantz promoting a "yes" vote on the project.

The Indiana University Board of Trustees should take a good look at the ethics and legality regarding what appears to be a clear misuse of the university's website and email system by Chancellor Bantz to promote a political cause.


Indy Student said...

Is there a specific law that talks about public employees and advocating political causes while on the clock?

Paul K. Ogden said...

Well that could fall under ghost employment. That's a really hard thing to track though with high level employees who pretty much come and go with very little restrictions.

There is an ethics rule that prohibits state employees from being involved in political activity when on the clock or using public resources for a political cause, but that rule excepts out university employees. I think they're probably covered under another statute that I haven't found yet. Much more likely though is that IU has ethics rules against this, which Bantz would have violated.

Downtown Indy said...

Since his University stands to get a major gift from Wishard it's quite odd he'd be trying to influence voters on this issue.

Of course, if we believe how terrible the conditions of the existing Wishard complex are, it's not going to be much of a gift when IU needs a multimillion dollar cash infusion to pay for tearing down what they were given.