Ethics waiver a question in $1.7M education contract

Oct 6, 2014 by

A former top Indiana education official’s role in the sale of $1.7 million worth of videoconferencing equipment to the state by Cisco Systems Inc., where he worked before and after holding that state position, has added to calls to strengthen Indiana’s ethics laws amid a recent spate of boundary-pushing incidents.

Todd Huston left his Department of Education job as chief of staff to former Indiana Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett in 2010 for a position with Cisco, where he had previously worked. He was involved in the 2012 sale of a new TelePresence videoconferencing system to the DOE that officials later determined was a waste of taxpayer money.

Although Huston says he was careful to keep his work for the state and for Cisco separate over the years, good-governance watchdogs say his role in the sale violated the spirit of Indiana’s ethics rules designed to stop state employees from cashing in on their public experience in the private sector.

Last month, a top aide to Democratic Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz filed an ethics complaint with the inspector general’s office alleging that state workers violated contracting rules in making the purchase. The complaint doesn’t mention Huston directly. The allegation comes amid a slew of high-profile ethics investigations this year which have found little formal wrongdoing, but left state ethics officials faulting gaps in the law itself.

via Ethics waiver a question in $1.7M education contract.

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