Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Plan May Fix INDOT Chief's Conflict ; Firm That Does Work for State May Hire Him

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Plan May Fix INDOT Chief's Conflict ; Firm That Does Work for State May Hire Him

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana State Ethics Commission on Thursday approved a procedure to avoid conflicts of interest by Indiana Department of Transportation Chief of Staff Troy Woodruff as he negotiates for a job with an engineering firm that regularly does business with the state. Woodruff - who is the subject of an ongoing review by the

Indiana Inspector General's Of-fice regarding Daviess County land he and his family sold for the Interstate 69 project - is in talks to become the vice president of transportation for Indianapolis-based RQAW Corp.

The Ethics Commission was asked only to approve the screening procedure for conflicts of interest and not any circumstances surrounding if Woodruff left state employment. INDOT attorney Heather Kennedy said the agency understands there could be potential post-employment restrictions if Woodruff takes the job with RQAW.

Ethics Commission Chairman James Clevenger said he didn't have an issue with the procedure the commission approved Thursday to avoid conflicts of interest, but he has serious issues if Woodruff leaves state employment for RQAW.

"I'm just telling you the next step is going to be a difficult one for me," Clevenger said.

State ethics rules require a one-year "cooling-off" period before state employees can take a job with a company whose contracts they administered or negotiated while employed by the state.

However, INDOT Commissioner Karl Browning could choose to waive the period for Woodruff. In 2013, Gov. Mike Pence waived the "coolingoff" period for former INDOT Commissioner Michael Cline when he took a job at Purdue University as the vice president for physical facilities.

The ethics commission's role is to determine whether the "cooling-off" period would apply to a state employee. If the condition applies, the employee can then ask his or her agency head to waive the one-year period. The ethics commission doesn't have the authority to overrule an agency head's waiver, according to Cyndi Carrasco, its executive director.

Recently appointed state Rep. Bionca Gambill, D-Terre Haute, said on Thursday, she would seek legislation prohibiting the issuance of waivers to avoid the "cooling-off" period if elected to a full term in November. …

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