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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - FWJG editorial: "Lawmaker’s conflicts tarnish entire Indiana House"

There have been a number of stories since the end of this year's session, first from Tom LoBiano of the AP, followed by the Indianapolis Star, on, as LoBiano writes:

... a Republican state lawmaker's private efforts to kill legislation calling for a ban on the construction of nursing homes, which would go against his son's business interest.
The legislator is Rep. Eric Turner, R- Cicero.

Today the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has a long editorial on Turner's conflicts. Here are some quotes from the second half of the editorial, after describing this most recent incident:

Don’t expect Turner to show any remorse. He is no stranger to conflict-of-interest charges.

Last year Turner pushed a measure that would have allowed Utah-based Insure-Rite, one of his daughter’s lobbying clients, to win a multi-million dollar contract with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

In 2008, he fought to preserve a controversial call center created in his district as a part of the state’s failed welfare privatization scheme. The legislator was an investor when his son later bought the building housing the call center.

Other public officials recognize Turner’s clear conflicts. Gov. Mike Pence a year ago placed a hold on $345,000 in state economic aid to Mainstreet Property Group because of the legislator’s ties.

The best-case scenario would find voters rejecting Turner in either the May primary, where he faces a challenge from Parvin Gillim of Sheridan, or in November, when the District 32 nominee faces Democrat Bob Ashley.

But the damage to the public trust is done.

Turner might have toed the conflict-of-interest line just close enough to avoid breaking the law, but his efforts on behalf of his family’s business enterprises clearly constitute an abuse of power.

If Turner’s legislative colleagues believe his reputation is the only one harmed, they are mistaken. Hoosiers are left with the suggestion from this incident and others that backroom deals not only are tolerated but might even constitute standard operating procedure. Super-majority control by one party only adds to the appearance that the real business is done behind closed doors.

Interesting, when I was looking for some background for this post, this April 13, 2011 post from Doug Masson's blog turned up, headed "More Conflicts for Rep. Eric Turner."

In addition, per this Feb. 24th ILB post, Turner was the author this session of the amendment to SB 367 which would have allowed. state contracts to discriminate on the basis of religion.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 20, 2014 09:21 AM
Posted to Indiana Government