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Indiana Democratic Party leader criticizes David Thomas' investigation of Mitch Daniels

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

(Photo)
File photo

Then-candidate Mitch Daniels greets a Clay County crowd during a campaign stop in November, 2004, at a Brazil truck stop.

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By MIKE SMITH

AP Political Writer and

By FRANK PHILLIPS

frankphi@hotmail.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- The chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party is scoffing at an ethics probe into Gov. Mitch Daniels' stop at a GOP fundraiser in a donated RV as a predictable, political punt.

"It doesn't shock me at all that Mitch Daniels' own inspector would let him off," said Democratic Chairman Dan Parker.

Daniels' appointed Ins-pector General, David Thomas, said Monday that his governor did not violate ethics codes by taking a donated recreational vehicle he uses as a mobile office to a political fundraiser for a state legislator.

Thomas, of Brazil, resigned as the Clay County Prosecutor when he was asked to become the State Inspector General by Gov. Mitch Daniels.

The report said RV1 was simply used to take Daniels to a fish fry for Republican Rep. Troy Woodruff of Vincennes on July 19. Thomas said he found no evidence that anyone from the general public boarded the RV or was charged money for doing so.

He said no further inquiry was warranted.

Parker's attack is being sloughed off by some Clay County residents as being politics as usual.

However, Clay County Republican Chairman Sharon Koehler took issue with Parker's words.

"David Thomas' investigation appears to be thorough, fair, and based on the facts of current law and previous practices," Koehler said. "David has always had immense credibility with people from both political parties and is one of the most honorable people I have ever met.

"He has gone out of his way to remain independent and non-partisan in his job as Inspector General.

"His willingness to take time to investigate the charges which were basically a political ploy in the first place shows how much he is trying to bend over backwards to be fair and impartial."

Clay County Prosecutor Lee Reberger worked with Thomas for many years in the county prosecutor's office.

Reberger said Wednesday morning he trusts Thomas' judgment in the matter.

"I don't know the basis of the allegations or the information that was provided as part of the Inspector General's investigation," Reberger added. "However, I do trust the judgment of Mr. Thomas."

An article by the Evansville Courier & Press published the day after the event said people paid $25 to attend the fundraiser, some shook hands with Daniels and boarded the RV for a look around. The article did not say anyone was charged to get on the RV.

But Parker asked for the investigation. He said the RV was donated to the state and likened its use at the



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