Indiana earns ‘F’ for judicial financial disclosure

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The Center for Public Integrity evaluated the disclosure rules for judges in the highest state courts nationwide. The level of disclosure in the 50 states and the District of Columbia was poor, with 43 receiving failing grades, making it difficult for the public to identify potential conflicts of interest on the bench. Despite the lack of information in the public records, the Center’s investigation found nearly three dozen conflicts, questionable gifts and entanglements among top judges around the country. Here’s what the Center found in Indiana:

Strengths:

Indiana asks for comprehensive disclosure of the gifts and reimbursements its judges receive. The Hoosier State’s high court must disclose the source of gifts received by all members of their households, along with a description and the value of the item. Additionally, the state asks for judges’ sources of income beyond their judicial salaries. Judges must disclose their spouses’ employers, too.

Weaknesses:

Indiana seeks little information about the financial investments and liabilities of its high court’s jurists. The state requires judges only to name the businesses in which they or their family members own $10,000 or more worth of stock, a particularly high threshold. Judges need not report any household debt.

Highlights:

In 2012, four out of Indiana’s five Supreme Court justices reported receiving tickets to the Indianapolis 500 from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Some judges reported that the tickets to the state’s popular sporting event were worth roughly $180-200, while one judge estimated that the tickets he received were valued at $500.