|Inspector General David Thomas|
Documents released from the Indiana Office of the Inspector General revealed ethics violations, including ghost employment involving two Indiana State Fair Commission employees.
Records showed the workers used state property to run their private businesses while on the state payroll, Call6 Investigator Kara Kenney reported.
The inspector general said Supervisor David Hummel and employee Chris Clyne used the Pepsi Coliseum's ice rink, weight- training equipment in the South Pavilion and the State Fair grandstands to train hockey players and various other athletes for a profit.
Hummel admitted to using his state computer for private business activities, according to the report, and used his position to purchase hockey equipment for the private business "at cost" through the Indiana State Fair Commission.
The Inspector General estimated Hummel and Clyne took financial advantage of $7,500 worth of ice rental time.
"These figures do not account for any other financial advantage or gain through the rent-free use of the weight-training room discovered in the South Pavilion or the Grandstands, both used for athletic conditioning purposes by the business," read the report.
Both workers are still employed, according to State Fair spokesperson Andy Klotz.
Both employees reached settlement agreements with the Office of Inspector General, in which they admitted to Code of Ethics violations, including use of state property and ghost employment.
Hummel also admitted to a violation of outside employment, and agreed to pay a $1,500 fine and serve a two-week suspension without pay.
Clyne was sanctioned to a one-week suspension without pay.
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I am well acquainted with David Thomas' work as Inspector General and I continue to be thoroughly outraged by it. About seven years ago Thomas filed an ethics violation to support the IDEM's termination of my client. The charge was that my client was driving a state car from Brownsburg to Beech Grove to fill up the car's gas tank at a station in which he had a financial interest. The financial interest my client had was a 3% interest in the profits from gasoline sales at the station. The profits from gasoline sales are only a few cents per gallon and 3% of that is minuscule. I did the math and estimated my client would have made 1/2 of one cent for every mile he drove going to the station and made about $11 over the years from putting gasoline in the state car.
In actuality, my client was driving from Brownsburg to Beech Grove to pick up chemicals he used as a water inspector. He wasn't allowed to store them at his Brownsburg home so he stored them at the Beech Grove gas station, without billing the state a dime for rent. When he was down there to pick up the chemicals for a job, he would occasionally fill up the state car with gas.
Thomas didn't care that my client had a legitimate reason for the trips. He didn't care that my client obviously was not doing what he did to profit off of gasoline sales. My client had complained to his boss about minority hiring and promotions at IDEM. That was a politically protected activity so Thomas went out and gave IDEM an ethics violation to hang the agency's hat on instead.
It is not the job of the Inspector General to file trumped up ethics charges to protect agency chiefs who make bad decisions on firing employees. Thomas' abuse of the ethics process to provide an agency head the fodder to fire a state employee is reprehensible, indeed I would say unethical. Unfortunately I've seen this sort of thing more than once from the Inspector General's Office. The next Governor needs to appoint a strong ethics chief that will clean up the political mess Thomas has made out of that office.