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SCHERERVILLE | According to a Democratic candidate for Indiana state auditor, corruption in Indiana government costs taxpayers millions of dollars.

During one of two campaign stops Friday in Northwest Indiana, Mike Claytor said he wants to return financial accountability to Indiana government by watching over the state’s financial management practices. Ethics figure prominently in that formula, he said.

Claytor and Democratic secretary of state candidate Beth White talked Friday with the press at the Schererville campaign headquarters of James Wieser, who is running for 15th District state representative. They also made a stop in Valparaiso on Friday.

The theme of acting as “the people’s watchdog” features heavily in his platform, Claytor said.

A resident of Carmel, Claytor has been a certified public accountant for 40 years and said he is the first CPA to run for the office of state auditor.

“Certified public accountants are often regarded as trustworthy stewards of finances. As a CPA, I work with a set of ethics,” he said.

Those ethics include making certain client’s financial information is accurate and meets all regulations.

“(Although not a business) we need the same in government,” Claytor said. “Ethics have left the building.”

In addition to being a CPA, Claytor cited his experience investigating and prosecuting allegations of wrongdoing by state and local public officials when he served as deputy state examiner, appointed by Republican Gov. Robert Orr.

Claytor tied the cost of corruption in Indiana state government to “the revolving door” in Indiana government, especially in the state auditor’s position.

In the last few years, five people have served as state auditor. Each time there’s a new auditor, the state’s computers have to be reset and the signature cards for signing checks must be changed.

“That affects $30.5 billion in payments that go through banks,” Claytor said. “Those are real costs and real money for taxpayers of Indiana to make those changes.”

In addition, Claytor cautioned, the Indiana State Board of Finance “has complete control of state finances when the legislature is not in session.”

That’s problematic, he said, because “if the state wanted to eliminate a state agency, all it takes is the governor to sign an executive order and the State Board of Finance could take away that agency’s funding.”

Gov. Mike Pence now has “a hand-picked state auditor and a hand-picked state treasurer. It’s under a single control,” Claytor said.

If elected state auditor, Claytor said he would “bring the audit function back into the auditor’s office in order to prevent future accounting errors like the ones that led to misplacing over a half a billion dollars.

Other plans include making certain that all funds “are spent for authorized purposes and properly accounted for” and to “develop a true Transparency Portal to allow Hoosiers to track how their taxpayer dollars are spent,” he said.

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Regional News Editor