« Ind. Gov't. - "Indiana monitors Toll Road operators' financial troubles" | Main | Ind. Courts - LaPorte prosecutor listens in to defendant's conversation with attorney; police claim 5th amendment »

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - "Voters must step in on ethics rules – where lawmakers refuse to act"

From an editorial yesterday in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:

When do a citizen lawmaker’s efforts at exerting influence become a conflict of interest? The Indiana General Assembly can’t seem to figure it out, giving a pass to a legislative leader who used his position to benefit his family business. As House Speaker Pro Tem P. Eric Turner walks away from an ethics scandal unbruised and nearly $2 million richer, it’s time that voters demand the higher standards legislators have failed to approve. * * *

If one House Republican showed character in disclosing Turner’s hypocrisy, it’s fair for voters to wonder why the others supported his bid to kill the nursing home moratorium.

How did the Cicero businessman convince them that their Senate colleagues were wrong about the legislation? Were the others uncomfortable with Turner’s lobbying? Did he convince House members that his conflict did not compromise the integrity of the General Assembly?

We’ll never know. But we can remind all legislators that the low bar Turner was able to clear is in sharp contrast to legislative standards elsewhere. His actions would not have been allowed in Kentucky, where tough standards were recently revised to become even tougher.

Lawmakers in the Bluegrass State apparently recognized that a Statehouse scandal harmed the reputations of more than the 18 lobbyists and lawmakers convicted on corruption charges. The scandal led to the creation of an independent nine-member board that oversees lawmakers and lobbyists.

With many veteran lawmakers choosing retirement, the young and inexperienced group of Indiana legislators needs to hear the lessons of Martin K. “Chip” Edwards, Phillip E. Gutman and Michael K. Phillips. Once respected leaders, each was involved in a scandal that ended his political career and harmed the reputation of the entire legislature.

As the General Assembly begins to consider tightening its rules, it needs to hear from voters. A part-time legislature served by citizen-lawmakers shouldn’t serve as a cover for glaring conflicts of interest.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 20, 2014 08:38 AM
Posted to Indiana Government