Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is waiting for a decision from the State Inspector General’s Office to see if as the President of Purdue whether he can lobby the state. This stems from the Governor’s own Executive Order that prohibits state government lobbying by members of the executive branch for one year after leaving their jobs.
The rule is as follows…
No state officer, employee or special state appointee who leaves state government after Jan. 10, 2005 shall accept employment or receive compensation for one year:
a. As a lobbyist engaged in lobbying the executive or the legislative branches of government in Indiana;
b. From an employer if the former officer, employer or special state appointee was engaged in the negotiation or administration of one or more contracts with that employer or in a position to make a discretionary decision affecting the outcome of that negotiation or administration of such a contract; or
c. From an employer if the former officer, employer or special state appointee made a regulatory licensing decision that directly applied to the employer or to a company that controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with the employer.
Obviously as a university president, the governor would clearly be lobbying the executive and legislative branches of government regarding funding, construction projects, and a various sundry of other rules and regulations affecting higher education. But once again, by doing any of this is he in violation of his own executive order? I would argue no.
What’s key in the executive order is that it applies to individuals “who leave state government.” By taking over as president of Purdue, Daniels is not leaving state government; he is merely going to work in another branch. Purdue is a creature of the state. If you look at its own history the school would not exist but for the state.
In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Land Grant Act, which turned public lands over to any state that agreed to use the land sale proceeds to maintain a college teaching agriculture and the “mechanic arts.”
In 1865, the Indiana General Assembly voted to participate in the plan and took steps to establish such an institution. And on May 6, 1869, the Indiana General Assembly chose the Lafayette area for the new institution and accepted a $150,000 gift from John Purdue, as well as $50,000 from Tippecanoe County and 100 acres of land from local residents.
The legislature named the new school Purdue University.
Looking at Purdue’s $1.6 billion annual budget, state funding accounts for approximately 27% of its operating revenue to the tune of about $312 million, coming in second to student fees. Purdue has to answer not only to its Board of Trustees, but also to the Indiana Commission on Higher Education and the Indiana General Assembly.
And the first line in Purdue’s own mission statement is to “serve the citizens of Indiana.”
Taking those facts as a whole, it is hard to argue that Purdue is not an institution that would qualify as an entity of “state government.” So therefore, if all the governor is doing is going from one branch of state government to another – albeit a more independent branch – then it doesn’t seem to me that there really is much of an issue here.