Hoosier Gov. Mitch Daniels drew criticism Thursday (March 3) from public interest group Common Cause Indiana (CCI) for accepting the donation of a used Beaver diesel pusher motorhome from Monaco Coach Corp. to serve as a mobile office.
Republican Daniels last week received a 2001 Beaver Patriot Thunder with 21,000 miles on it from Coburg, Ore.-based Monaco, with the intention of using it about once a week to travel throughout the state. The coach would sell for about $200,000 on the used retail market.
Daniels, a former White House budget director for President George W. Bush, took office in January after a highly publicized campaign that spotlighted his cross-country treks in a different motorhome.
“The governor is showing some inconsistency with his acceptance of this RV,” Julia Vaughn, CCI policy director, told host Charlie Butcher on WOWO-AM, a Fort Wayne radio station. “The governor has come out during the campaign, and at the start of his administration, very strongly in support of strengthening ethics in state government.
“One of the things he did in his first day in office was sign an executive order saying that his employees in the executive branch cannot accept any gift from a lobbyist (and anyone) who wants to do business with the state of Indiana cannot give anything of value to an employee.
“(By accepting the RV) he is violating his own executive order. He’s saying, ‘Don’t use me as an example.’”
When Butcher argued that Monaco was not a lobbyist and had received clearance for the donation from the State Ethics Commission, Vaughn countered that even the appearance of impropriety should be avoided. “We need to stop this gravy train down at the Statehouse,” she said.
Luke Messer, executive director of the Indiana Republican Party, defended Daniels. “It doesn’t make sense to waste state dollars when somebody’s willing to give a gift to you,” Messer said, adding that had Daniels’ campaign committee reimbursed Monaco, the governor likely would have been accused of politicizing the arrangement.
Monaco employs about 2,700 workers in the Elkhart, Ind., area, making it one of north-central Indiana’s largest employers.