Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ visit this week to a Republican fund-raiser in the recreational vehicle he uses as an extension of his office has Democrats calling for an investigation, according to a report in the Louisville (Ky.) Courier Journal.
But the governor’s press secretary said yesterday (July 21) that Daniels did nothing wrong, and a top Republican called any suggestion otherwise “ridiculous and political posturing of the worst kind.”
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker sent a letter yesterday to the state’s inspector general, questioning whether Daniels broke ethics rules barring the use of state property or equipment for anything than other state business.
Daniels took the RV, lent to the state by Monaco Coach Corp. in February, on a trip through southwestern Indiana on Tuesday. Most of the trip was like others he has taken to host town hall meetings on various issues.
But Daniels finished Tuesday’s trip with a stop at a fund-raiser for Republican Rep. Troy Woodruff, who voted earlier this year for daylight saving time, one of the governor’s legislative priorities.
The Courier & Press, a newspaper in Evansville, Ind., wrote that “people who made the $25 per family donation to get into the Woodruff fish fry on Tuesday lined up to shake hands, get pictures with the governor, tour RV1 and even have him autograph” copies of his book.
Parker quoted the story in his letter to Inspector General David Thomas.
“The governor made a promise to the state that he would live by the highest of ethical standards,” Parker said in a written statement. “Using the state’s recreational vehicle for campaign fund raising is no different than charging a political contribution to enter the governor’s office or the governor’s resident.”
Daniels routinely welcomes people to tour his RV at his stops.
Jane Jankowski, the governor’s press secretary, said Daniels’ use of the RV is “consistent with the long-standing practice” of providing transportation to the governor wherever he goes. She said the state also provides all governors with troopers who drive and double as security.
Tuesday’s trip was no different than when the governor uses state transportation to go to dinner, to work out or to any of his other activities, Jankowski said.
Daniels promised during his campaign to impose tougher ethics standards in state government. His policies include a stricter prohibition on employees taking most gifts from vendors, and the Indiana Ethics Commission has levied fines against several employees who have broken that rule.
But when asked about the RV in the past, Daniels has said it does not fall under the gift prohibition because the vehicle was provided to the state, not to him.
Democrats said yesterday that makes it state property and unavailable for use as a political tool.