INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 6, 2015) - The BMV is back in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Governor Mike Pence is calling for an ethics investigation into a former top BMV official after he took a job with a company that collects a controversial and potentially illegal fee from BMV customers.
The “convenience fee” associated with obtaining a car title and registration is the fee in question. The cost of it is up to the privately contracted companies that issue it.
Former BMV Chief of Staff Shawn Walters pushed for that fee and now works as an executive at Express MVA, a private company that issues car titles, and consequently can charge the convenience fee.
“We`re looking into the matter we`re in the process of not only to improve the back office but we`re looking at a broad range of proposals to stream line the code and clarify the way the BMV serves the people of Indiana,” said Governor Mike Pence regarding the controversial convenience fee.
The fee charges customers for services traditionally offered only by the BMV. When in office at the bureau, Walters signed off on a contract allowing Express MVA to act as a private contractor that would issue the fee. Months later, he’s being paid as a new executive of the company.
On Wednesday February 18, 2015, during a House Transportation Committee Hearing State Representative Dan Forestal (D – Indianapolis) called the legitimacy and legality of the fee into question, “Are you saying that the partial service dealers have the statutory authority to just charge the convenience fee on top of what they are already statutorily obligated to?”
“They collect the statutory fee for the BMV. They also have authority under contract to collect a fee for their services,” replied BMV lobbyist, Mark Shublack.
“Ok if that’s the case, why are we allowing the fee after the fact in this bill?” asked Forestal.
Forestal claims the fee is illegal and never should have been allowed. He too is calling for an investigation into Walters.
“The fact that a fee was pushed and then somebody received a job after that just doesn`t seem to pass the smell test,” he said.
“The problems with corruption at the BMV did not just crop up within the last couple of weeks,” said Director of Communications for State House Democrats, John Schorg.
House democrats want a total BMV overhaul. More than 1,000 fees they claim are creating millions of headaches for drivers around the state.
“Fees that are being charged without people knowing, people being overcharged fees, undercharged fees, fees that nobody seems to know what they do,” said Schorg.
Calls into Express MVA and requests to speak with Shawn Walters were not returned Thursday.
Lawmakers have said that they are looking to cut down on and make more transparent more than 1,000 various fees associated with the BMV.