Bill Addresses Conflicts Of Interest, Nepotism
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – A proposal being considered in the Indiana legislature threatens several local officeholders who work for the governments they preside over.
Senate Bill 170 passed the state Senate Monday on a 39-11 vote. The legislation now goes to the House.
The bill would ban employees of cities, towns, townships, or counties from holding political office in those governments.
“By making this adjustment, we can help ensure trust in local government by eliminating conflicts of interest that could arise when a public employee serves as an elected official and makes decisions on things like budgets and office policies they will directly benefit from,” Lawson said.
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A handful of officeholders in Dearborn County could be affected if the bill becomes law.
Dearborn County Commissioner Shane McHenry is a detective for the Dearborn County Sheriff’s Department. County councilman Bill Ullrich is a deputy with the department while fellow councilman Bryan Messmore is a victim advocate coordinator with the Dearborn County Prosecutor’s Office.
City council members Bill-Bill Bruner and Lawrenceburg Police Capt. Doug Taylor are city employees.
Under the bill, those officeholders would be able to complete their current terms. If they found new jobs outside their respective city, town, or county, they could keep their elected position.
SB 170 would also prohibit an individual from serving in a direct supervisory role over a family member within any government unit.
“We need to eliminate all conflicts of interest within local government, and this legislation would remove the impropriety that occurs when an elected official pays a family member’s salary with taxpayers’ dollars,” said bill author Sen. Connie Lawson (R-Danville).
The proposal is one point in Governor Mitch Daniels’ local government reform agenda.