Woodruff decision leads to criticism of Inspector General

August 1st, 2014 at 2:18 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

A  four year investigation into a high ranking official in the state Department of Transportation has concluded with no criminal charges filed.  However, Troy Woodruff will be banned from working in state government for a year.

It’s a case that has raised questions about the investigators.

State Inspector General Dave Thomas has been on the job for ten years and held only his second news conference Friday.  It was to address the Woodruff investigation and he showed up prepared to defend himself.

Troy Woodruff is a former state lawmaker who served as chief of staff at INDOT before resigning this week.  He became the target of an investigation because both he and family members made money on land sales in southern Indiana when the state built the I-69 extension.

“You’ll see that there’s a conclusion,” said Thomas, “that there are no crimes and the code of ethics wasn’t violated.”

Thomas found that the land sales were above board but that Woodruff failed to disclose his interest until after the fact.

“When you engage in conduct that goes right up to that line and then you dance away from the line and say that it wasn’t violated,” he said, “that’s ok, but this is what happens.”

The Woodruff case is the latest example where Democrats feel the Inspector General has failed to properly identify corruption in state government.

“It’s a slowdown and then whitewash strategy,” said Rep. Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis.)  “I really don’t see the value in it.”

“Just seems like these allegations go into black holes for a very long time,” said Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington,) “and just get kinda dropped out at the last minute and usually the answer is no harm, no foul.”

Thomas defends himself by pointing out that 3 prosecutors declined to file charges against Woodruff, yet he accepts the criticism.

“Of course, this office should be challenged,” he said.  “This office has a very powerful position.”

Thomas is the first Inspector General and points out that his investigations have led to the arrest of 100 state officials.  He will leave state government himself in a couple of months but said the criticism has nothing to do with it.

“Frankly,” he said, “I thought it would be a lot worse.”

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