INDIANAPOLIS — Diego Morales has been Indiana’s Secretary of State for just over a month, but there are already questions and controversy about his staff.
Several viewers have contacted 13News to ask if the new Secretary of State hired a family member.
“Did Diego Morales hire his brother-in-law to work in the Secretary of State’s Office? Wouldn’t that be a violation of Indiana’s nepotism rules?” asked one of the emails.
After several days of inquiries to state agencies, 13News VERIFY has confirmed answers to both of those questions.
First, did Indiana Secretary of State Diego Morales hire his brother-in-law to work in his office?
- Indiana Secretary of State’s Office
- Indiana State Personnel Department
- Indiana State Ethics Commission
Yes, it is true that the new Secretary of State did hire his brother-in-law for a lucrative job within the state agency.
WHAT WE FOUND
Diego Morales’ brother-in-law is now working in the Secretary of State’s office. Shawn Grady is listed on the department’s website as a director of the auto dealer services division.
Previously, Grady worked as a car salesman at an auto dealership in southern Indiana. He is still listed as a sales consultant on the dealership’s website, but a staff member told VERIFY that Grady has “left to work for his brother-in-law at the Secretary of State’s office.” Grady is married to Morales’ sister.
According to the Indiana State Personnel Department, Morales officially hired his brother-in-law on Feb. 6, and Grady will be earning an annual salary of $108,000 – even more than the Secretary of State’s salary of $94,501.
Second, does a state official hiring his brother-in-law violate Indiana’s nepotism statute?
Because “brother-in-law” is not included as a family member in the state ethics rules pertaining to nepotism, it is false to claim that Diego Morales violated state rules by hiring his brother-in-law to work with him in the Office of the Secretary of State.
WHAT WE FOUND
State lawmakers passed Indiana code 4-2-6-16 to prevent nepotism – the practice of hiring a relative – within state agencies. The code clearly states, “An individual employed in an agency may not hire a relative.”
Less clear is who is considered a relative.
13News asked the Indiana State Ethics Commission for clarity, and a spokeswoman responded: “Brother-in-law is not included in the definition of ‘relative’ for purposes of the Code of Ethics.”
The only family members specifically prohibited from being hired under Indiana’s nepotism rules are: spouse, parent, stepparent, child, stepchild, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, daughter-in-law and son-in-law.
So we can verify Indiana Secretary of State Diego Morales did hire his brother-in-law for a well-paid management position in the Office of the Secretary of State.
But any claims that the hire violates the state’s nepotism rules are false. Hiring a brother-in-law does not violate state ethics rules.
If you have a question you’d like 13News to verify, email us at VERIFY@wthr.com.