By BRIAN SLODYSKO,
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An ethics panel found Thursday that a former state
administrator violated Indiana's nepotism law by hiring three relatives to
work at her agency.
Indiana State Ethics Commission unanimously approved banning former
Department of Homeland Security administrator Leann Walton from ever working
in state government. Walton was fired as the agency's chief financial
officer in August 2016.
Emails produced through an investigation by Inspector General's office show
Walton hired her aunt, sister and stepdaughter to positions in the agency.
Walton's aunt and sister were in her direct line of supervision. Her
stepdaughter worked in another division.
Indiana's ethics law states that an "individual employed in an agency may
not hire a relative" or have a relative in their "direct line of
attorney for Walton did not immediately respond to a request for comment
Walton, who was tapped to be the agency's CFO in 2012, previously defended
her actions. She said that the temporary clerical positions, which paid
between $12 and about $15 an hour, were low-level and hard to fill.
Walton hired her relatives through Knowledge Services, a central Indiana
company that has a state contract to provide temp workers, the emails show.
company's directive is to provide a pipeline of workers, but managers are
allowed to pre-select candidates for the firm to hire, which Walton did when
she brought on her three relatives between March and May of 2016, according
to a report by the IG's office.
state officials discovered Walton's sister was working under her, they
transferred her out of the office and spoke to Walton, who made no mention
that she not only hired her sister, but also two other relatives, officials
Later, amid swirling office rumors about Walton's hiring practices,
investigators discovered the extent of the hires.
text message sent to a co-worker around that time, Walton denied having a
role in hiring her aunt. Though emails obtained by investigators contradict
Walton's account, she told the co-worker that she only passed along her
aunt's resume and had nothing to do with the hiring.
done trying to find people to sit at a job that no one wants," Walton wrote
in a July 21, 2016 text message exchange with the co-worker.
Three weeks later Walton was fired.