IN Brief

Critics slam Morales for hiring brother-in-law

By: - February 16, 2023 3:50 pm

Embattled Secretary of State Diego Morales faces another scandal over the hiring of his brother-in-law. (Leslie Bonilla Muñiz/Indiana Capital Chronicle)

New Secretary of State Diego Morales is working alongside his brother-in-law, who filled a newly created position that comes with a six-figure salary.

The Indianapolis Star first broke the story Wednesday evening.

Shawn Grady, Morales’ brother-in-law, is the new co-director of the Auto Dealer Services division of the agency. Previously, the division had one director and a deputy director that had a combined salary of $207,350.

The deputy director position no longer exists, according to Jerold Bonnet, the general counsel for the office and deputy secretary.

Grady, who is married to Morales’ sister Cecilia Grady, previously worked at a car dealership and now has a salary of $108,000. The other co-director also makes around $108,000.

Bonnet said, in an email to the Indiana Capital Chronicle, that the Morales’ administration submitted a list of names to the State Personnel Department for “open, non-classified, executive positions” and the other agency processed hiring.

The process for traditional hiring through the State Personnel Department can take up to two months and new administrations utilize a quicker method to get their agencies started, he said.

Government watchdogs told the IndyStar the hiring was “completely inappropriate,” though it doesn’t technically violate the state’s nepotism laws. The publication also reported that Grady received the job offer nine days after Morales was sworn in on Jan. 9.

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State law bars the hiring of one’s relative but only includes: spouses, parents or stepparents, children or stepchildren, siblings or stepsiblings, nieces or nephews, aunts or uncles, and daughter-in-laws or son-in-laws.

Brother- or sister-in-laws don’t qualify.

House Speaker Todd Huston said he was unfamiliar with the hiring Thursday and didn’t say whether or not the nepotism code that applies to all state employees needed to be updated.

But Sen. Greg Taylor, the Senate Minority Leader, said he didn’t thing it needed to be changed.

“If his brother-in-law does a good job, let him have his brother-in-law in office,” Taylor, D-Indianapolis said. “I don’t think we need to react by changing law every time something like that happens.”

Mike Schmuhl, the chair of the Democratic Party, criticized Morales over the hiring in a Wednesday night statement, saying the move “erodes trust in government” and is a continuation of the multiple scandals that plagued Morales’ campaign.

“Diego Morales should rescind the appointment and commit to transparent and fair hiring practices in the future – rather than hiring people for the personal gain of himself and his family,” he said.

During his campaign, Morales faced accusations of sexual harassment, election improprieties, campaign mis-spending and exaggerating his military service. He won the November election with overwhelming support.


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Whitney Downard
Whitney Downard

A native of upstate New York, Whitney previously covered statehouse politics for CNHI’s nine Indiana papers, focusing on long-term healthcare facilities and local government. Prior to her foray into Indiana politics, she worked as a general assignment reporter for The Meridian Star in Meridian, Mississippi. Whitney is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University (#GoBonnies!), a community theater enthusiast and cat mom.