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Ethics commission fines, bans attorney from state employment

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The Indiana State Ethics Commission has found a former general counsel and chief administrative law judge for the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission violated the law when he participated in decisions involving his future employer, Duke, while still with the IURC.

The ethics commission released its findings in a report Thursday, outlining the charges against Scott Storms. The inspector general charged Storms with violating Indiana Code Section 4-2-6-9(a) when he participated as an ALJ in the Duke Edwardsport case while knowing he had a financial interest in the case because he was negotiating employment with Duke at that time. He was also charged with violating the law when he participated as an ALJ in the Duke Smart Grid case after he learned he would become an attorney at Duke. Duke had a financial interest in both the Edwardsport and Smart Grid cases.

Storms ruled on the Duke cases in July 2010, and he began working at Duke in late September 2010. He was fired in early November 2010. His salary at Duke was $42,000 more than what he earned with the IURC.

The ethics commission found he violated I.C. Section 4-2-6-9(a) by participating in the matters and by not notifying his appointing authority of a potential conflict of interest or seeking an advisory opinion from the commission after he began negotiations for the open position at Duke. Storms also failed to file a written description detailing the nature and circumstances of the matter and make full disclosure of any related financial interest in the matter.

The ethics commission imposed a $12,120 fine, which was three times the amount of benefit Storms obtained from the $4,040 salary increase he received during his employment at Duke. He must pay the fine in full to the commission within 60 days. He is also banned from future employment with the state.

Duke’s Indiana president, Mike Reed, a former executive director of IURC, was fired at the same time as Storms as a result of this matter. Gov. Mitch Daniels fired IURC Chairman David Lott Hardy in October 2010 for not having Storms step down from Duke cases after learning Storms applied for a job with the company. Reed sent numerous emails and communicated with Storms and Hardy regarding Storms’ prospective employment.

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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