Holcomb donates campaign contributions from people tied virtual schools

Posted at 10:00 PM, Feb 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-19 22:00:30-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has donated money received in the form of campaign contributions from donors tied to two Indiana virtual schools, after it was revealed the schools defrauded the state millions of dollars.

An Indiana State Board of Accounts review found evidence last week that two Indiana virtual charter schools received about $70 million from the state by claiming thousands of students as active, even though they weren’t.

The schools shut down last year after state funding was cut off.

“Those found defrauding students, families and teachers of needed education dollars will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Holcomb said, via a statement. “I’m hopeful that through a thorough investigation, a complete restitution of the defrauded funds will be realized. In the meantime, I’ve instructed my campaign team to identify any and all contributions received from involved organizations and donate those past campaign contributions to a local nonprofit organization involved in education. I’m hopeful all other candidates, campaigns, and office holders will do the same.”

It was not immediately clear which nonprofit organization the money would be donated toward.

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody criticized Holcomb for “donating because he got caught.”

“Eric Holcomb pocketed thousands in campaign cash from donors that very likely could face criminal charges,” Zody said. “He can donate the money, but he can’t change that fact. These aren’t new allegations or new contributions; they date back years. Holcomb isn’t donating the money on principle, he's donating because he got caught.”

Indiana Senate Democrats held a press conference Wednesday, calling for more accountability for the state’s virtual charter schools. All amendments or bills to increase oversight into the schools has been voted down over the past few years. Republicans in both chambers have maintained it’s not an issue of oversight by the state, but a failure of oversight in this circumstance.