LOGANSPORT – Indiana has a “sore loser” law that prevents losing primary candidates from being on the ballot again in fall elections, but maybe it’s time to take the sore loser exemption a step further.

Case in point: The pending whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former state treasurer’s office employee Jim Holden. He’s alleging State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell wrongfully awarded state contracts to some of her political contributors.

If the vendors paid through the contracts were not legitimate, this suit would have more legs than it does. As it is, the suit says more about former State Treasurer Richard Mourdock’s decision to award Holden a three-year contract than it says anything about Mitchell. If the vendors involved already had done business with the state treasurer’s office and previously were approved by the Department of Administration and the attorney general, when Mourdock was in office, this case is ridiculous. 

And let’s face it, any state, county or city officeholder would want to have the ability to hire and fire their own employees without having to deal with holdover appointees with six-figure guaranteed contracts. Mourdock had no business committing Mitchell or her Democratic opponent to an employee who would create a potentially hostile environment. It doesn’t happen in the White House, but it happens in our Statehouse thanks to Mourdock. Who knows, there may be other examples that simply haven’t come to light yet.

Mourdock’s actions underscore why Indiana voters chose Joe Donnelly over him in the U.S. Senate race, but in the bigger picture, this story makes a case for a state law that bans anyone from doing what Mourdock pulled. It’s poor public policy. It’s poor management, and it screams of political payoff that ought to be decried and condemned by every panelist on every Indiana-centric issues program on radio or television in this state. Paying off a former campaign manager with a six-figure salary represents the worst in politics, but unless we ban all political contributions from state vendors, we’re always going to have situations like Kelly Mitchelll’s. 

And while we’re on the subject, with the change in officeholders, how long was it going to take the AG or the Department of Administration to grant Mitchell approval of all the consultants she needed to start her first term? Weeks? Months?

There’s plenty of room for improvement in state government here, but throwing Kelly Mitchell under the bus when someone who shouldn’t have even been on a state payroll and has already dipped into the state coffers for $92,000 is bad enough.

This episode gives Democrats another reason to say what they said at the end of 20 years of Republican governors in 1988 when Evan Bayh defeated John Mutz. Enough is enough. It’s time for change. It’s time to push reset. It’s time to think about the pendulum swinging the other way and making the process more honest.

Maybe the Democrats haven’t done anything to deserve this break, but maybe they’re overdue for one. The elephants in the room have forgotten what public service really means. 

Kitchell is the former Democratic mayor of Logansport.