Former Rep. Troy Woodruff gained my attention when he became the deciding vote for abandoning Hoosier Standard Time and imposing Daylight Saving Time on Indiana. (I can’t say for sure, but Richard Mourdock is probably the only state official at whom I’ve taken more shots over the years.) Mr. Woodruff cast his fateful DST vote after promising his constituents he would never vote for it. After that, Mr. Woodruff was the beneficiary of some RV-1 fundraising love during his next House campaign.
After losing his election to Kreg Battles, Woodruff had a soft landing with the Indiana Department of Transportation – which one could infer might have been repayment by friends and well-wishers in appreciation for the tough vote that probably cost him his position. (His wife also gained INDOT employment). But, then, he moved on from that position after some sketchy land deals.
And, now, Ryan Sabalow and Tony Cook, writing for the Indy Star, bring us another installment in the ongoing saga. “Indiana’s ethics laws generally require former state employees to take a year off before working for companies with which they directly did state business.” The notion is that you might not be a great steward of public funds with respect to a particular organization if you know that you can arrange for that organization to make big money from the State, then jump ship and cash in by becoming an employee of the company. Woodruff is skirting this restriction, after the Indiana Ethics Commission told Woodruff they would not grant him approval to quit his state job and become vice president of RQAW in whose favor Woodruff signed contracts in his capacity as chief of staff for INDOT.
“So what if I was an ‘independent contractor’ instead of an ‘employee’ of RQAW?” Woodruff seems to have asked himself.
[A]n Indianapolis Star investigation has found that Woodruff is working for the very company that ethics officials had warned him to avoid for a year. But not as an employee. He’s an independent contractor.
“I’m doing it within the law,” Woodruff told The Star. “If I want to have an affiliation with those guys on a contractual basis, and it doesn’t violate the law, I feel like I should be able to do that.”
Government ethics experts say it appears Woodruff is on sound legal footing, thanks to a loophole written into the state’s ethics rules.