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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

Waltzing around the law

The Republicans in the state legislature are at it again, essentially sprinting away from ethics scandals in hordes.

After the scandal by Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, in which he lobbied for bills to further his family’s business interests, the spotlight has expanded on state ?lawmakers here in Indiana.

It seems they just can’t stay away from all that juicy taxpayer money.

Or, at least, they can’t seem to stop running into trouble with their ?businesses.

What is ethics but a guideline, anyway?

It’s not like people need to get paid.

Sen. Brent Waltz, R-Greenwood, has served in the State Senate since 2004 and sits on the Senate ?Appropriations Committee.

It appears, however, that Waltz has some trouble appropriating funds in his ?private life. 

Waltz is being sued for withholding $220,000 in wages and benefits from his employees at a machine tooling firm in Indianapolis.

He and his coworkers are also being accused of withholding Social Security taxes from employee paychecks and never sending them to the federal government, instead opting to pocket the extra cash. 

Just a little embezzlement.

Of course, Waltz denies ever holding a significant role in the company, even though the records clearly contradict him.

According to company payroll forms, Waltz served as Chief Financial Officer of the business and received more than $60,000 in wages from said business annually.

This isn’t the first time Waltz has been sued for ?being fiscally irresponsible.

In 2009, another machining company, Indianapolis Diversified Machining, was sued for withholding pay from employees.

However, the company, which told employees it had no money, continued to pay Waltz after it shut down.

When questioned about his involvement, Waltz claimed the pay he received was to cover past debt owed to him by the company and that the decision was made entirely by the owners.

Again, according to company bylaws, Waltz was an owner of the company.

Official company forms, again, list Waltz as the Chief Financial Officer of the ?business.

To put this in perspective, a senator, who sits on the committee charged with budgetary tasks, has been the Chief Financial Officer of two companies, both of which failed and both of which withheld pay from employees.

Well, if that’s not encouraging, I don’t know what is.

It serves to reason that the Indiana House and Senate should audit its members a little more closely in regard to how their private lives may impact their public ?service.

Now, that isn’t to say lawmakers aren’t privy to the rights and comforts that we, as private citizens, are ?afforded.

It is to say, however, that by choosing to serve in the public sector, lawmakers open themselves up for ?additional scrutiny.

When members of the legislature engage in activities or practices that potentially impact their impartiality, their ability to work effectively or their ethical intelligence, it’s the public’s right to know.

So when lawmakers like Waltz mismanage their business funds, allegedly commit tax fraud and withhold wages from their employees, it’s warrant for constituent concern.

We have a right, as voters, to know what our ?representatives are doing.

So should Waltz resign?

Should he be censured?

I honestly can’t answer those questions.

What I do know, however, is that this is a topic worth discussing for the betterment and protection of the public interest.

Otherwise, we can’t ?expect any better.

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