Elect a clown, the joke goes, and you should expect a circus to follow.

Sometimes, you even get the clown’s brother-in-law as part of the act.

The news, first reported by The Indianapolis Star, that Indiana Secretary of State Diego Morales hired his brother-in-law is an outrage that isn’t a surprise. Morales long has demonstrated that he has the ethical compass of a scavenger bird.

He is what he is. Anything available for the plucking he will take.

In this case, less than two months into his tenure as secretary of state, Morales installed Shawn Grady as co-director of the Auto Dealer Services division of the office.

Grady’s qualifications? He apparently worked as a sales consultant for an auto dealership in Southern Indiana—and, likely more importantly, he’s married to Morales’ sister, Cecelia Grady. For his labors, Grady will take home an annual paycheck of more than $100,000, courtesy of the Indiana taxpayers.

It’s hardly a shock that Morales would do something like this.

When he was running for secretary of state against a much better candidate, Democrat Destiny Wells, Morales’ campaign was dogged by one scandal after another. He padded his resume by claiming professional experiences he didn’t have, greatly embellished his record of military service, obscured the fact that he twice had been fired from positions in the secretary of state’s office and used campaign funds to acquire an expensive car for his personal use.

These revelations demonstrated that he had been a dutiful student in the Donald Trump/George Santos school of political mendacity, but none of these things were the worst things that emerged about Morales.

Two women—both of them members of Morales’ own Republican Party—said he had sexually assaulted or harassed them while they worked together.

That news was broken by Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, who now is gearing up to be the Republican candidate for mayor of Indianapolis.

So, it wasn’t a partisan hit job.

And what was the Indiana GOP’s response to this damning development?

A yawn.

Republicans didn’t even bother to investigate.

No wonder Morales thinks he can get away with anything.

That is the truly disturbing thing.

One shouldn’t and can’t expect upright conduct from Diego Morales. He—like Trump, like Santos—has made clear what he is, a con artist, a grifter who constantly is on the make for the next hustle.

There are many good and decent people who hold positions of responsibility and authority in the Indiana Republican Party.

Yet, like their counterparts in Washington, D.C., they do nothing while one of their own trashes every value they claim to hold dear. They sit on their hands while guys like Trump and Santos and Morales turn the party of Lincoln into a haven for scammers and schemers.

This, too, shouldn’t be a surprise, I suppose.

These are, after all, the same Republican heavyweights who refused and continue to refuse to act while two successive GOP attorneys general—Curtis Hill and Todd Rokita—have abused the powers of their office, declared war on the Indiana constitution and violated the state law they’re supposed to uphold.

The puzzle to all this is why decent Republicans tolerate this conduct.

It has become abundantly clear that any candidate bearing a Republican label will be elected to statewide office in Indiana. That Morales won the 2022 secretary of state’s race by more than 15 points against a vastly more qualified opponent proves that.

Wouldn’t it make life better for everyone, including Indiana Republicans, if the party put forth candidates with moral codes and removed the ones that don’t have them? Is it that hard for the state GOP to find decent people who care about the law, their oaths of office and other people to run for office?

That’s the issue here.

It’s impossible to believe that the Indiana Republican Party didn’t realize Morales would take every opportunity to use his office for his personal benefit. Diego Morales is who Diego Morales is.

But Republicans chose to line up with him any way and to condone, with their silence and inaction, his ethical breaches. They opted to bring him to the dance, so now they get to twirl around the floor with him.

Elect a clown and expect a circus to follow.

Sometimes, you even get the clown’s brother-in-law as part of the act.

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. The views expressed are those of the author only and should not be attributed to Franklin College.

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