An investigation starts with a report to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). This report or complaint is a request to investigate. In contrast, the term "complaint" in the OIG statute refers to the written document the OIG files with the State Ethics Commission (SEC) if a Code of Ethics violation is determined by the OIG after an investigation. Upon receiving a request to investigate, the following stages are followed.
The OIG investigates allegations that the Indiana Code of Ethics may have been violated. If it determines after an investigation that the facts constitute probable cause that can be shown by a preponderance of the evidence, it may file a written complaint with the SEC specifying the alleged violation.
- Filing of the complaint
An ethics complaint is a written document filed by the Inspector General with the SEC. This document cites the specific ethics rule which is alleged to have been violated along with the general supporting facts. This is a civil rather than a criminal proceeding. The person named as allegedly violating the rule is the "Respondent".
If the SEC finds that probable cause exists to support the complaint, the state employee is notified in writing of this SEC finding and is given a hearing date. This determination by the SEC is made in executive rather than public session.
Under Indiana law, the written complaint filed with the SEC is a public document. The probable cause information and supporting investigatory records are not public documents.
A witness and exhibit list allegedly supporting the complaint are provided to the Respondent.
- Optional Negotiations
During the interim between the filing of the complaint and the hearing or trial on the complaint, the Inspector General may communicate with the Respondent in order to seek an agreed settlement to submit for approval or rejection by the SEC. The Respondent is entitled to communicate through an attorney he or she hires. If an agreed settlement is not reached, the case moves to the SEC for the hearing or trial on the complaint.
- Hearing on the complaint
The hearing is public and like in most state agency proceedings, the media is permitted to attend and record the proceedings.
The hearing is similar to a court proceeding. However, the SEC conducts the hearings informally so as to provide fairness to the Respondent. The SEC is the ultimate trier of fact. The SEC also controls the reception of evidence and the entire proceeding. Currently, the SEC consists of licensed attorneys in Indiana who have wide ranges of experience and geographic backgrounds. To learn more about the current SEC members, please visit our Commission page.
Generally, the procedure at the hearing is similar to a court trial. Both parties are entitled to present evidence in the form of witness testimony and exhibits. Cross-examination of the witnesses is permitted. The Inspector General usually presents evidence first and then rests. Then the Respondent is entitled to present evidence. After