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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Ind. Gov't. - "But by resigning before July 31, Smith also qualifies for lifetime, state-subsidized health insurance"

John Byrne of the Gary Post-Tribune reports today:

EAST CHICAGO -- State Sen. Sam Smith wants to pass his legislative seat to his wife.

Smith, D-East Chicago, said he will resign, effective Wednesday.

He said he has received commitments from Democratic leaders in East Chicago and Hammond to support the candidacy of his wife, Diane Smith, in the precinct caucus to name his successor.

Smith said he wants to focus on running his business, Divinity Funeral Home, which is preparing to open a larger location in East Chicago.

But by resigning before July 31, Smith also qualifies for lifetime, state-subsidized health insurance.

The General Assembly passed a law this spring, eliminating the insurance package as part of a pay increase for legislators, but the new law has not yet taken effect. * * *

In 2004, Smith won the Democratic nomination on his way to another term despite a scandal touching him.

The senator pleaded guilty that year to misdemeanor charges of failure to remit sales tax in connection with his funeral home.

The transgression came to light during an investigation of misappropriated Build Indiana funds Smith helped secure for a proposed women's shelter in East Chicago which was never constructed.

Yet Smith resisted calls for his resignation then.

Now, he said, the time is right.

"(Diane) will do a great job, and I need to be here now," he said.

Ed Feigenbaum writes this morning in Indiana Daily Insight:
Some folks tell us to see a spate of additional retirements announced before the July 31 take it (and leave) or leave it deadline for the lucrative old legislative health insurance benefit package.
Patrick Guinane of the NWI Times reports:
State Sen. Sam Smith, D-East Chicago, said he is resigning to focus on an expansion of his family's funeral home and wants his wife to serve the remaining 18 months of his term.

A senator since 1998, Smith faced a potential re-election roadblock next year. He pleaded guilty to tax evasion for failing to pay sales tax on his East Chicago funeral home in 2004. And a state law approved a year later prohibits those charged with a felony but convicted of a misdemeanor, as Smith was, from seeking public office.

He is asking fellow Democrats to select his wife, Diane Smith, to complete the remaining 18 months of his term.

"I was going to run and let the chips fall where they may," Smith said Monday. "This (resignation) was all based on me getting the larger (funeral home)."

Smith said his resignation is effective Wednesday.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 5, 2007 09:13 AM
Posted to Indiana Government | Legislative Benefits