INDIANAPOLIS — Former Indiana schools chief Tony Bennett faces scrutiny over the discovery of lists of Republican fundraisers on Department of Education servers and emails he sent directing staff to dissect a speech by Democrat Glenda Ritz.
An election law attorney says the fundraiser lists and an August 2012 email to aides including chief of staff Heather Neal appear to violate election and ethics laws prohibiting state employees from engaging in political activity while on duty. The rules also bar them from ordering others to do so and using state resources for political purposes.
Bennett denies any violations and says the fundraising lists were used to make “thank you calls” after the election.
Inspector General David Thomas says his office is investigating Bennett but won’t discuss the nature of the probe.
Bennett lost his bid for re-election as Indiana superintendent of public instruction last year. He was later named Florida’s education chief, but he resigned in August after questions were raised about actions during his tenure in Indiana.
Bennett was a longtime Southern Indiana educator. In recent years before taking state office, he’d served as an assistant superintendent for New Albany-Floyd County schools and as the superintendent for Greater Clark County Schools.