The new top dog at the Indiana Department of Revenue has a background in banking — including at an Evansville bank that failed under his watch.
Given the high unemployment rate and Gov. Mitch Daniels' emphasis on fiscal prudence, it's curious that someone with a recent high-profile bank failure would be chosen to turn around the troubled agency.
Mike Alley, of Carmel, was CEO of Integra Bank when federal banking regulators shut it down July 29. The bank's 2009 annual report, issued in March 2010, showed the bank ran into financial trouble before Alley's tenure as chairman and CEO began in May 2009, but his rescue attempt failed.
That must not happen at the Department of Revenue, which twice has experienced colossal accounting failures.
The first error was the misdirection of $320 million — five years of corporate income tax payments — into the wrong account. This month's final straw was the discovery of a computer error that withheld nearly $206 million in county income tax revenue to 91 Hoosier counties.
That's a half billion dollars worth of mistakes.
Alley, named new director of the revenue agency Friday, was president and CEO of Fifth Third Bank of Central Indiana for 13 years and owned Patriot Investments LLC.
State campaign finance reports show Patriot Investments LLC donated $15,500 to Daniels' 2004 and 2008 gubernatorial campaigns and has given the Indiana Republican Party and House Republican Campaign Committee $16,000 since 2004. Well, money talks, executives often like to talk to politicians, so this is not unusual.
But couldn't Daniels have picked someone besides the CEO of a failed bank to run the Indiana Department of Revenue?
Integra Bank suffered from being undercapitalized before it closed last summer. Isn't that ironic, given the problems the state has faced with money not being properly accounted for?
Daniels should have thought twice about what signal this choice for the head of the vital but troubled Department of Revenue sends to Hoosiers.