The flap over the Indiana Regulatory Commission is not a scandal. "Scandal" is defined as "a disgraceful or discreditable action, circumstance, etc. American College Dictionary, 1962 ed., p. 1082. In a general sense, the whole thing about Duke Energy officials being cozy with the people at the Indiana agency charged with regulation of Duke Energy is disgraceful or discreditable. But I came of age—i.e., went to college—when Watergate was in its prime. "Scandal" has evolved (or devolved) since then. Also, we have a fine tradition of scandal and graft in Indiana. We should not give short shrift to our heritage.
Therefore, I present the following characteristics for a matter to qualify as a scandal here in the Hoosier state. Not all of the qualities be included; only a number sufficient for a given imbroglio truly to earn the name "scandal."
1) Cash money must be tossed around.
The Duke Energy matter involves large quantities of money. However, in days of old it was said that to pass a bill through the Indiana General Assembly took a paper bag full of money tossed over a transom of a room at the Claypool Hotel in the dead of night. Watergate involved cash in safes at the White House. Abscam featured a United States Senator asking (on hidden camera) whether bundles of cash disturbed the lines on his suit jacket. Cash gives matters a certain tawdry quality that enhances "disgraceful or discreditable."
2) Sex must be involved, and more than tangentially.
I did not read that hookers, or transactions in men’s restrooms, played a part in the Duke affair. If the players got laid after an exchange of particularly heated e-mails, that does not count (except to the person who had sex. Sex has to be an element right there in the middle of things, so to speak. Representative Wayne Hays of Ohio had to resign from office over his affair with a stripper. During Watergate (the modern-day Big League Scandal) G. Gordon Liddy plotted to have adversaries of the Nixon Administration kidnaped and sent to Mexico to be with hookers. A dead bed-mate takes a scandal up more than a few notches, as does sex with a minor. Sex gives matters a certain tawdry quality (are we catching a theme here?) that enhances "Disgraceful or discreditable."
3) There must be a minimum of geekish issues.
Money delivered to a hotel room, by a hooker, to a legislator for his vote: that’s scandal. I am not sure arranging employment for oversight of an agency that controls the expenditures of hundreds of millions of dollars is base enough. People would have to think to understand the "scandalous" nature of it. But give them the cash money and that hooker, and you’re talking concepts they understand.
4) The matter must be exceptional.
Standard operating business should not qualify as "scandal." Unfortunately, what happened at IURC and Duke (probably) happens every day.
These are but a few of the qualities of a true "scandal." More will be added in the future, as I am sure our political leaders always are hard at work, especially since the development of Viagra®.