Whether you love, hate or don’t care one way or another about Daniels taking the job, what you should care about is that the system has no checks and balances to prevent corruption and conflict of interest that will likely promote Daniels to the state’s highest-paid employee in January. There is no law against what he’s doing, and that is probably because it’s never happened before in Indiana. Previous legislators may never have envisioned a time when a governor and not an administrator from the world of education, would lead a university.
That may be cause for ending his rule over the state in 2013 with a “Daniels Rule” that prohibits former governors from accepting presidencies of state universities until after they leave office. We already prevent certain government officials from lobbying government until after they leave it, but there’s more.
Let’s consider some reasons why the ethics of this situation merit further review:
1. In 2010, the chairman of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission was fired by Daniels when it was determined the chair was aware the IURC’s attorney, Scott Storms, had been pursuing a job with Duke Energy while he was still working for the state, overseeing Duke’s case before the IURC. Storms and Duke’s Indiana head were both placed on administrative leave when news broke about the conflict of interest. But two years later, Daniels essentially is committing the same conflict of interest in that he sought a job with Purdue while the university secured millions in state funding as part of its annual budget which is either signed into law or vetoed by Daniels. But more to the point, Daniels also has input on decisions affecting other Indiana public universities, and that inherently presents a conflict of interest. Would Indiana University officials for instance prefer that the next Purdue president pick their trustees?