Indiana to consider creating a government corruption hotline

Indiana residents soon could have a hotline for reporting improper or illegal spending and other suspected corruption by local government officials, if lawmakers approve a proposal being drafted by a legislative committee.

Posted: Oct 28, 2019 10:19 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana residents soon could have a hotline for reporting improper or illegal spending and other suspected corruption by local government officials, if lawmakers approve a proposal being drafted by a legislative committee.

Sen. Victoria Spartz said Indiana taxpayers have no clear place to go if they suspect officials are being unethical, and a single, state-run hotline would ensure their concerns are investigated, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

"We have so many things in the government and it's hard for people to know where things are," she said.

Spartz suggested the State Board of Accounts, which regularly audits the spending of all local governments, run the hotline in conjunction with the office of the Indiana Inspector General, which investigates corruption by state officials and workers.

State Auditor Paul Joyce, who heads the State Board of Accounts, said his office already fields reports from local government employees who allege violations of the law or the misuse of public resources. He said the public is also welcome to contact his office with similar claims.

But Joyce warned that creating a hotline likely would require doubling his current staff of 15 investigators and changing state laws to establish standards for what must be investigated and to protect the anonymity of whistleblowers.

Rep. Matt Lehman agreed that a hotline could lead to excessive false reports from people upset about decisions made by local officials.

"I have neighbors who don't even know what branch of government I'm in, let alone whether the clerk-treasurer of the town is absconding with money," Lehman said.

Citizens who are informed enough to be aware of illegal action by local leaders already understand to contact their county prosecutor, the State Board of Accounts or their state representative or senator to report issues, Lehman said.

Sen. Karen Tallian noted that Indiana already has several separate hotlines to report child abuse, elder abuse, Medicaid fraud and other crimes. The Legislature should look at merging all the hotlines into a solo answering point that would refer citizen reports to the proper state agency, she said.

The committee wants the hotline proposal to be considered during the legislative session that begins in January.

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CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1450832237
Lake721711247
Allen66684881
Hamilton50838487
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Elkhart40079546
Vanderburgh34553496
Tippecanoe30654274
Johnson27559465
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Porter25556386
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Bartholomew12894190
Warrick12152190
Wayne12036268
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Grant11901242
Morgan10360192
Boone9815122
Noble9234122
Henry9142167
Marshall9062147
Dearborn8923100
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Cass8134127
Lawrence8018185
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Gibson7074118
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Knox6896115
Steuben665889
Miami6563111
Whitley655360
Putnam641584
Clinton624579
Wabash6182111
Jasper610892
Jefferson5796104
Ripley555893
Adams540581
Daviess5062117
Scott488280
Wells4814104
White475669
Greene4680100
Clay462862
Decatur4597110
Jennings448867
Fayette448396
LaGrange425990
Posey407544
Randolph3908107
Washington389856
Fountain373464
Fulton362474
Spencer360747
Starke353574
Owen351277
Sullivan347554
Orange329172
Jay328850
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Perry288553
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Tipton250066
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Pike247244
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