04/04/12  Veteran Plymouth attorney James N. Clevenger has been appointed chairman of the Indiana State Ethics Commission by Gov. Mitch Daniels. The appointment was effective Feb. 1, 2012, and Clevenger serves at the Governor’s discretion.

Clevenger, a partner in the law firm of Wyland, Humphrey, Wagner & Clevenger, LLP, was appointed to the commission in 2004 by then-Gov. Joe Kernan, a Democrat, and was reappointed by Daniels, a Republican, in 2008. The State Ethics Commission has jurisdiction over all current and former state officers, current and former state employees and appointees, and persons who have or had a business relationship with any state agency.

The five-member commission meets monthly in Indianapolis. Its primary functions are to issue advisory opinions interpreting the State Ethics and Conflicts of Interest laws, conduct hearings on complaints and issue rulings on those proceedings which include sanctions and/or fines, and collect ethics’ disclosure information and organize training for state employees and special appointees.

In short, the commission’s function is “to make sure state government and its employees are honest, fair, and beyond reproach,” Clevenger said.

“The commission assures the general public that their state government employees are serving the residents of Indiana honorably and legally. It is important for Indiana taxpayers to know that their tax dollars are not getting squandered and that the person making the regulatory decision is doing it for the right reasons and not for personal gain,” Clevenger said.

Kernan ramped up the activity of the State Ethics Commission in response to the general public’s desire for more accountability in the executive branch, Clevenger said. Meetings increased from two or three times a year to monthly and the caseload increased. Daniels has added new legislation and created the Inspector General’s Office. The Inspector General’s Office is the investigative arm and then files complaints with the Ethics Commission.


Clevenger is a 1970 Plymouth High School graduate. He received his undergraduate degree from Hanover College (Bachelor of Arts, political science) and obtained his law degree from the Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis (1978). He practiced law from 1978-80 in Marion, Ind., before joining Kizer & Neu in Plymouth, now Wyland, Humphrey, Wagner & Clevenger, LLP.

His law practice includes general and trial, corporate, probate, administrative law, and litigation. Clevenger has served as a public defender and has been the Marshall County attorney since 1997. He also serves as attorney to the Culver Town Board, Argos School District, Koontz Lake Regional Sewer District, and Pretty Lake Conservancy District.

Clevenger and his wife, Suzie, have one son and four grandchildren. He is the son of James A. and Peggy Jo Clevenger of Plymouth.  His mother is a former two-term Marshall County treasurer and former member of the Marshall County Council.