first_imgBy Brynna SentelTheStatehouseFile.comINDIANAPOLIS—The state’s office of inspector general has been at the center of some of Indiana’s most high-profile scandals since its creation by former Gov. Mitch Daniels in 2005.“I really thought we were just simply catching up,” Daniels, now president of Purdue University, said of why he created the watchdog agency. “We were out to have a government people could really trust.”Since those early days, the inspector general and the staff have conducted investigations into a range of issues, including allegations of nepotism in stateagencies, conflicts of interest in contracts, financial misdeeds and misbehavior by government officials. In addition, the agency recommends changes to state ethics laws.One of the most high-profile cases was the investigation of Tony Bennett, the former Indiana superintendent of public instruction who was accused of changing the state grade of a charter school founded by a prominent GOP donor to make that school’s performance look better. The inspector general referred the case to a prosecutor, but no charges were ever filed.And now, current Inspector General Lori Torres is investigating Attorney General Curtis Hill, who is accused of groping four women at a downtown Indianapolis bar in March following the end of the 2018 regular legislative session.Leaders of both political parties in the Indiana House and Senate as well as Gov. Eric Holcomb have called on Hill, a Republican, to resign. He has refused and is fighting back, first unsuccessfully challenging the inspector general’s right to investigate the case and then threatening a defamation lawsuit through lawyers Kevin Betz and Sandra Blevins.Daniels said his experience in federal government taught him the value of having an inspector general whose job is to police the ethical behavior of government officials. “To me Indiana’s laws were way behind, our ethics standards were way too low and we wanted to elevate them,” Daniels said. “And when you do that you need a watchdog and an enforcement mechanism so that was the idea.”Daniels had served in Washington D.C. as a chief political adviser and liaison to President Ronald Reagan and later was director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush.In his experience, he saw that nearly every federal agency had a position of inspector general to investigate ethical breaches and criminal activity.That is why, when he returned to Indiana and took office as governor in 2005, he created the inspector general’s office on his first day in office.Indiana has only one inspector general position that covers the entire executive branch, but every department is asked to have its own compliance officer. The position does not have prosecutorial power. That requires whoever is in that role to work with local prosecutors to determine whether criminal charges should be filed.In the investigation of Hill, Torres will be working with Special Prosecutor Daniel Sigler, who was appointed to the position by a Marion Superior Court judge in late July.Since 2005, Indiana has had only three people in the role—former Clay County Prosecutor David Thomas, who served as inspector general for 10 years, Cynthia V. Carrasco, and Torres, who was appointed by Holcomb.“I hope by now it has been well imbedded in the Indiana system and everybody understands the importance of the job and why it’s there,” Daniel said. “I’m sure they are taking ethics and justice in government just as seriously as we did.”FOOTNOTE: Brynna Sentel is a reporter for, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.Print Friendly, PDF & EmailFacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more