Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hoosiers For Honesty In Government Calls On Obama To Withdraw Carson Endorsement

Hoosiers for Honesty In Government PAC released a letter it sent to Sen. Barack Obama urging him to withdraw his endorsement of 7th District U.S. Rep. Andre Carson in the hotly-contested 4-way primary race. Carson and the Carson political machine "are practicing monarchy with a congressional seat and are hurting our community and a lot of people" the letter said. The letter asks Obama to "rehabilitate" the other Democratic candidates in the race by appearing with each of them. "These candidates should be allowed to run without the influence of the 1st formidable black presidential candidate backing the ‘least qualified’ candidate who is slated because of a ‘dying declaration’ from his grandmother to a group of hand-picked precinct committee people to send her ‘seed’ to Congress," the letter reads. The group is planning a rally this Friday, May 2 at 12:00 Noon at Obama's campaign headquarters in downtown Indianapolis at 2 N. Meridian.

Groppe Continues To Do Carson's Bidding

The Star's Washington bureau reporter, Maureen Groppe, continues her work as an ad hoc campaign staffer for U.S. Rep. Andre Carson. She's all worried about how much Dr. Woody Myers is spending of his own money on his 7th District bid to oust Carson. She opens her story today on the 7th District race:

Former state health commissioner Woodrow Myers has upped his personal spending on the 7th Congressional District primary race to $1.6 million.

Myers, a multimillionaire, reported to the Federal Election Commission Tuesday that he has loaned his campaign $356,000 on top of nearly $1.3 million in previous loans.

The real concern to voters in the 7th District is why so much special interest money and contributions from people who live outside the 7th District is flowing into Carson's campaign--the guy who promised "bold leadership" free of control by "DC lobbyists and corporate CEOs." Check out this highly sanitized dribble Groppe gives you on Carson's fundraising:

Carson has reported receiving about $150,000 in contributions since April 16. Much of the money came from Democratic members of Congress and political action committees representing such interests as mortgage brokers, insurance agents and wine and spirits wholesalers.

Once again, if you want the rest of the story, you're going to have to read this blog. There's no mention of South Florida fundraisers or large sums of money Carson is taking from the financial services industry to influence his votes on the House Banking Committee. Groppe continues to withhold Carson's financial statement from the public until after the May 6 primary. Shouldn't we know how much money Carson got paid during his short stent working as a lobbyist for a city contractor while serving on the Indianapolis City-County Council? Will someone in the Star's editorial office please order Groppe to do her job?

A Bag Of Cash To Save Governor's House

The testimony in Tony Rezko's federal trial on public corruption charges gets worse by the day. It seems the political fixer likes helping politicians out with their homes. According to government witness Ali Ata, the man who earlier said he purchased his $125,000 a year state job from Gov. Rod Blagojevich for about $50,000 in campaign contributions, Rezko had him to arrange the delivery of a $25,000 bag of cash to him to pay off building contractors to prevent liens from being filed on the remodeled home of the governor. Recall that Rezko is the close Obama friend who helped out Sen. Obama with the purchase of his South Side mansion by purchasing an adjoining lot and then later selling a portion of that lot to him. Nothing to be concerned about here.

UPDATE: Check out this information Mike Stein posted on the Sun-Times blog on the Rezko trial, claiming proof that Obama and Rezko are partners:


Examine the Cook County land records:

The deed for the house that the Obama’s purchased for $300k less than the asking price is from Frederic Wondisford and his wife, Sally Radovic, to the Obama’s Northern Trust Company Land Trust #10209 (established as such for “confidentiality”) is dated 15 June 2005 and is recorded 21 June 2005 as Document #0517233010. Declared value is $1,650,000.00.
The deed for the vacant lot is from Wondisford/Radovic to Rita M. Rezko. This deed is dated 15 June 2005 and recorded a day earlier, on 20 June 2005 as Document #0517133004. Declared value is $625,000.00.

Examination of the Cook County records very clearly indicates that Rita M. Rezko conveyed the entire lot to Obama’s Northern Trust Company Land Trust #10209 on 11 January 2006 and recorded 16 February 2006 as Document #0604733162. Declared value is $104,500.00.
VERY IMPORTANTLY, thorough and careful examination of all Cook County land records fails to locate a deed back to Rita M. Rezko from the Obama’s Northern Trust Company Land Trust #10209.

There is a “wild’ deed indicated from Rita M. Rezko to “5050 S. Greenwood LLC”. This is an Illinois limited liability corporation with the same address as Rezmar Corporation that is registered to the indicted Tony Rezko. (This deed is considered “wild” because it is not supported by any ownership deed from the Obama’s Land Trust.)

Furthermore, Tony Rezko’s registered corporation, 5050 S. Greenwood LLC, then pledges the entire vacant lot in favor of a mortgage THAT IS STILL OPEN with Fifth Third Bank for the amount of $375,000.00. This is Document #0703357023 recorded 2 February 2007.


This is contrary to what has been stated by Senator Obama; contrary to what has been stated by Senator Obama’s campaign staff: and contrary to what has been reported.

It must be noted that a seemingly intelligent Harvard educated attorney does not make such unknowing errors as stated above. The above is obvious intent not “oversight”.

Central Indiana Senators On The Hot Seat

The vast majority of state lawmakers are getting a pass in this year's May 6 primary, but four Republican state senators in the Indianapolis area weren't so lucky. The Star's Bill Ruthhart explains:

Four of the most experienced and powerful Republican leaders in the Indiana Senate are facing challengers in Tuesday's primary, three of them for the first time in their long tenures.

Sens. Beverly J. Gard, Luke Kenley, Connie Lawson and Teresa S. Lubbers represent Central Indiana districts, chair key committees and have a combined 64 years of legislative experience.

Terry Michael, Ken Geesaman, John Gootee and Ken Morgan, respectively, are the four challengers. Their biggest problem is money. Ruthhart reports that the four challengers have raised $17,000 combined, while the incumbents have raised more than $475,000 between them. Anyone see any upsets here in the making?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

You've Got To Be Kidding?

This has to rate as the absolute dumbest political move of this year's Indiana campaign cycle. Remember those images of public schools which Jill Long Thompson's campaign used in a campaign TV ad that criticized Jim Schellinger for making "millions lobbying to raise property taxes to pay for schools he designed?" When Schellinger complained that the images of the schools shown in the original TV ad were actually projects performed by another architectural firm which supported Thompson's candidacy, the Thompson campaign corrected the mistake and began using images of schools which CSO Architects had designed. Now, CSO's attorneys have served a cease and desist letter to Thompson's campaign to stop using images of its projects. The letters reads, in part:

Please be advised that Barrett & McNagny LLP represents Schenkel & Shultz, Inc.(hereinafter referred to as “Schenkel & Shultz”). It has recently come to our client's attention that the Jill Long Thompson campaign is using images of Schenkel & Shultz projects in its TV ads without authorization from Schenkel & Shultz. The projects included in the TV ads are the Wayne Township Schools, Ben Davis High School and a Decatur Township School projects. The Jill Long Thompson campaign does not have authorization to use these images. Schenkel & Shultz is the architect of record for these projects and is owner of the images which the Jill Long Thompson campaign has used in its TV ads.

I'm a lawyer, but someone is going to have to help me out here. If I take a picture of Ben Davis High School, then I have to get permission from CSO to use that image in campaign material for illustrative purposes because it happened to be the architectural firm which designed this publicly-owned school? I think not. Maybe I should ask the school for permission to use an image of the school (although I doubt I'm legally required to do so), but I'll be damned if CSO owns the image of any public school it happened to design at taxpayers' expense. Even if CSO's position is legally correct for the sake of argument, it is an outrageous position for Schellinger to have to defend publicly. Good luck explaining this one, Jim. A big hat tip to Taking Down Words.

Myers Dumps Another $356,000 Into Congressional Campaign

Dr. Woody Myers dug into his wallet today and loaned his 7th District congressional campaign another $356,000, bringing the total of his personal contributions to his campaign to over $1.6 million. Myers' decision to bankroll his campaign has allowed him to make the hotly-contested Democratic primary race a two-man race between he and U.S. Rep. Andre Carson according to recent polls. His problem is that he still trails Carson in the 4-way race. Can he beat Carson without going negative? The Carson political machine has already begun spreading nasty rumors about Myers in an effort to sideline his campaign. This is standard fare for any campaign in which the Carson political machine is involved. If you're going to take on the Carson political machine, you better show up to the fight with an AK-47 (figuratively speaking) with all rounds firing if you want to survive. Myers had better go on the offensive real quick if he wants to end on top. Otherwise, he'll be lucky to survive the next week with his reputation in tack if the past is prologue.

Howey-Gauge Poll Results Not Good News For Democrats

I just finished attending a briefing on the release of the latest Howey-Gauge Poll numbers at a luncheon hosted by Barnes & Thornburg. I suspect the numbers will not be music to many Democrats. In the Democratic primary race for president in Indiana, Obama and Clinton are locked in a tight race, with Obama up 2 points at 47%-45% and 8% undecided. On a statewide basis, neither Clinton nor Obama fare well with voters, although Obama's negatives aren't as high as Clinton's at this moment. Obama's favorable/unfavorable numbers are 41%-34%, while Clinton's are 37%-42%. McCain, by comparison, polls favorable/unfavorable numbers of 47%-25%. With a plus or minus margin of error rate of 4.1%, Obama's 2-point lead is within the margin of error. Nevertheless, I see this race going to Clinton when you see how well she is running ahead of Obama among female voters and older voters, two big blocs of voters. It also appears Republican cross over votes could help Clinton. According to Holly Davis, the poll anticipates that as many as 1 in 5 of the people who vote in the Democratic primary will be either Republican or independent voters. A surprising finding of this latest poll was just how little voters seemed concerned about the Iraq War. Pocketbook issues are on the minds of voters. Note also that this same poll found Obama with a 15-point lead over Clinton in February. Rev. Wright and Obama's dissing of small town folks have definitely taken their toll on his campaign in the Hoosier state.

The poll brings more bad news to the troubled campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Schellinger. He trails Thompson by a 45%-27% margin with 28% undecided. In a match-up with Gov. Mitch Daniels, Thompson loses 55%-36%. Daniels scores a positive favorable/unfavorable rating of 51%-28%. Also, voters prefer to re-elect him as governor as opposed to those who favor someone new by a 47%-41% margin according to the poll. The poll finds that issues like daylight savings time and toll roads are not registering with voters. Once again, it's the economy, stupid.

In the 7th District, the poll numbers suggests it's a two-man race between U.S. Rep. Andre Carson and Dr. Woody Myers. Orentlicher and Mays are trailing far behind in third and fourth place, respectively. Howey suggests that Myers' only hope at closing the 17-point gap between him and Carson may be a late, negative attack against him by one of Carson's opponents, preferably Mays or Orentlicher. The poll suggests white voters are gravitating to Myers instead of Orentlicher, contrary to the conventional thinking of many. Surprisingly, the poll shows Myers with higher name recognition in the district than Orentlicher. Only 67% of the voters could identify Orenticher compared to the 82% who could identify Myers.

The poll produced little hope that Dr. John McGoff will succeed in unseating U.S. Rep. Dan Burton in the 5th District. Burton is leading McGoff by a whopping 57%-22% margin with 20% undecided according the poll results. The only good news for McGoff in the poll is his apparent lead in Marion County where voters prefer him over Burton by a 40%-35% margin. Only 20% of the district's voters, however, live within Marion County. One of Dr. McGoff's biggest problems is a lack of name recognition district-wide.

Democratic Presidential Primary

Democratic Gubernatorial Primary

7th District Democratic Primary

5th District Democratic Primary

Groppe Writes Puff Piece For Carson

Proving that she is going to be of no assistance in telling 7th District voters just how fast the newest member of Congress sold himself out to the special interests and lobbyists who run Washington, the Star's Maureen Groppe writes a puff piece today about how Carson's fellow black caucus colleagues are helping him out. Maureen, if you want to write press releases for Carson, then become a member of his staff. We want and demand hard news coverage from the Star's Washington bureau. We aren't getting it. That leaves it up to the blogs to get the truth out. And by the way, Maureen, we're still waiting for you to report on Carson's financial disclosure statement. Oh, that's right. You decided we don't need that information until after the May primary. We want to know how much money a city contractor, Cripe, put in Carson's pocket before he went to Congress. Remember, that's the lobbyist job he conveniently took as soon as he was appointed to the Indianapolis City-County Council. Please, do your job.

Myers Explains HIV/AIDS Policy And Responds To Critics

Editor's Note: This is a guest post on Advance Indiana by Dr. Woody Myers, Democratic candidate for the 7th District congressional seat. Last year, Advance Indiana was the first to report on a possible bid for the 7th District seat by Dr. Myers. Because this site was also the first to note opposition he faced in New York from some corners of the GLBT community because of his supposed policies in responding to the HIV/AIDS crisis as Indiana's state health commissioner when New York Mayor David Dinkins appointed him to a similar post there, it is only appropriate that he be given the opportunity to set the record straight here. His campaign is also hosting a reception Wednesday evening, April 30 at 7:00 p.m at his campaign headquarters for the GLBT community to discuss his views.

I would like to thank Gary Welsh for the opportunity to address an issue that's recently come up on this blog.

Since my announcement for Congress in the 7th District of Indiana I've connected and reconnected with the people of Indianapolis and I've shared my thoughts on a wide range of issues. As we've reviewed the many important healthcare issues we face, my views and continued concerns regarding the HIV-AIDS epidemic here in Indianapolis and around the world have been discussed on numerous occasions. After completing five years as the Indiana State Health Commissioner, I was appointed New York City Health Commissioner for David Dinkins for almost two years, in 1990-1991. I was appointed in part because of my prior experience and knowledge of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I was honored to accept the position then and am still honored to have served in Mayor Dinkins' administration. While in New York, the City Health Department accomplished a number of its goals to improve the public's health. We strengthened environmental controls in a notoriously dirty city, worked with schools to develop better sex education programs, and made great strides increasing awareness of tuberculosis and HIV-AIDS. We reached out to and worked with the GLBT community of New York. Together we created a true dialogue between various communities affected by this insidious virus.

After accepting the position in New York and before I started work as NYC Health Commissioner, I was interviewed by a number of reporters the New York media, including a reporter from the New York Post. I was asked about many issues relating to HIV-AIDS and consistently said we needed to fight against the disease, not the people with the disease, exactly as I had done in Indiana with Ryan White. One of many questions asked was what to do about HIV-positive citizens who knowingly and purposely spread the virus with the sole intention of infecting others. I responded by saying that in those few and very rare cases, the solution was to follow the guidelines put out by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Those guidelines required that in the specific instances where the disease was being spread to innocent victims purposely, the infecting individual should be restricted and treated. That was (and is) the policy of the CDC and was existing policy in New York.

The reporter (along with his headline editor) drastically exaggerated and took my comments out of context and presented me as an advocate for quarantine of all HIV-positive patients. This simply is not true, nor has it ever been true, and no one has any evidence whatsoever to the contrary. I have a record of responsibly educating the public on the true nature of HIV-AIDS beginning right here in Indiana where our state gained national attention while the Indiana
State Board of Health advocated for the INCLUSION of Ryan White into public school. When I left NYC to return to Indianapolis, the reporter later apologized for his initial article.

I will be proud to represent all of the people of the 7th district, especially those who are the most vulnerable in our society, including HIV-AIDS patients and their supporters. If you have any questions or would like more information I hope you will call our headquarters at 687-0707 or visit our website at I also hope you will join me and my staff tomorrow, Wednesday April 30th, in our headquarters for our GLBT Community Reception. The reception will begin at 7 pm and topics for discussion will include ENDA, the Federal Marriage Amendment and Don't Ask Don't Tell. Thank you for allowing me to address you in this forum.

Dr. Woody A. Myers Jr.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Obama Straw Donor Testifies In Rezko Trial

An associate of Obama pal and corrupt political fixer Tony Rezko took the witness stand in Rezko's federal corruption trial today in Chicago. Elie Maloof testified that Rezko told him to ignore a grand jury subpoena he received in the federal investigation. He said Rezko told him that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald would be canned by the Bush administration, and that the entire investigation would be shut down after then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert put his guy into Fitzgerald's spot. According to the Sun-Times, Maloof became tied to Sen. Barack Obama when he acted as a straw donor to Obama's Senate campaign at the behest of Rezko, although government documents simply referred to the donation Maloof made to Obama as "a political candidate." Obama later gave Maloof's $10,000 donation to charity, along with other money he received from Rezko, after Rezko was indicted. The Sun-Times said attorneys and the judge in the case were taking extra care to avoid mentioning Obama's name during Maloof's testimony.

Supreme Court Upholds Indiana's Voter ID Law

In a key voting rights decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld by a 6-3 vote Indiana's Voter ID law. This is a major setback for efforts by the Democratic Party to make it difficult for poll workers to detect vote fraud activity at the polling place in the form of voter impersonation. Justice Stevens delivered the majority opinion for the Court. Justices Breyer, Souter and Ginsberg dissented. I'll have more analysis later.

Star Describes Burton As "Shameless"

A Star editorial today takes aim at U.S. Rep. Dan Burton, who is locked in a tight primary race with Dr. John McGoff. The subject of the editorial is Burton's abuse of the congressional franking privilege to aid his re-election efforts. The Star editorial says Burton is "shameless. It read, in part:

Under fire for missing key votes to play golf, and facing for the first time in many years a credible primary opponent, the 13-term congressman last year sent out nearly 700,000 pieces of mail to constituents, touting his record and years of service. The mailers cost taxpayers more than $190,000 in postage. Only nine U.S. representatives, of the 435 in the House, sent out more taxpayer-financed mail than Burton.

It's not the first time, of course, that questions have been raised about Burton's judgment and use of congressional perks. In 2007, he missed House votes for a week in order to play golf with celebrities in Palm Springs, Calif. It also was revealed last year that taxpayers were shelling out $702 a month to provide Burton with a Cadillac DeVille. Burton last year was the only member of the House to vote against tougher ethics rules for members of Congress. The legislation passed the House by a vote of 430-1.

Burton apparently feels he can get away with such outrages because he represents one of the most heavily gerrymandered districts in the nation. The only real challenge Burton need ever fear at the polls is in the Republican primary.

McGoff's campaign may not have nearly as much as Burton's campaign to spend, but the Star's reporting and editorializing against Burton is going a long way in helping to close the money advantage Burton has.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Obama Pal Sprung From Jail By Iraqi Fugitive

It's one of those things the mainstream media won't bother discussing in this presidential campaign, but Sen. Barack Obama has this really sleazy close friend and political fixer who is on trial in Chicago for buying and selling influence in Illinois politics. Tony Rezko has been in jail without bond while he is being tried on federal corrupt influence charges for months now because he failed to disclose a 7-figure wire transfer payment he received from a corrupt former Iraqi businessman, Nadhmi Auchi. Rezko finally made bail last week with a little help from another Iraqi fugitive from justice, Aiham Alsammarae. The Sun-Times is reporting that Alsammarae put up more than one-third of the $8.5 million in cash and property pledged for Rezko's bail.

In other Obama news you won't read about in the mainstream media, Larry Sinclair, the man who has accused Obama of doing drugs and having sex with him in the back of limousine in Chicago in 1999, now says that Chicago Police have expressed an interest in questioning him about the mysterious murder of a gay choir director at Obama's church. Donald Young, choir director of the church where Obama has attended services for the past 20 years, was found shot to death on December 23, 2007 in his South Side Chicago apartment. Sinclair claims that Young spoke to him about his sex and drugs allegations, purportedly on behalf of Obama, prior to his unexplained murder. According to Sinclair, Young said in telephone conversations with him last fall that Obama had spoken to his minister about his past drug use and planned to discuss it publicly. Young communicated to Sinclair his concern that Sinclair not discuss the drug and sex allegation publicly. Sinclair said Young told him he was an intimate friend of Obama's.

Lobbyists And Special Interests Pour More Money Into Carson's Race

Folks, once again our local news media is asleep at the switch as lobbyists and special interest groups pour money into buy the 7th District seat on behalf of U.S. Rep. Andre Carson. I told you on Friday about all the money Carson raised down in South Florida this past week. Another 48-hour report with the FEC reveals that Carson raised $4,600 from the Miccosukee Tribe, a Native-American tribe in South Florida which operates casinos. D.C. lobbyist Steve Elmendorf, makes a $4,600 contribution. A securities industry PAC kicks in $1,000, while a mortgage bankers PAC contributes $1,000. A senior V.P. for Verizon, Howard Wooley, chips in $1,000, and Michael Williams, a lobbyist for Credit Suisse adds another $1,000 to Carson's campaign coffers. An investment manager from Connecticut, Francisco Borges, makes a $2,300 contribution. Local contributors like lobbyists Lacy Johnson and Mike O'Connor max out for Carson. More than $100,000 has flowed into Carson's campaign in the last week alone. The vast majority of these funds have come from individuals and special interests far away from the 7th District. Andre Carson sold you down the river to buy his seat in Congress. If you want to take back your seat in Congress, you must defeat him on May 6. I hope the Democrats in this district care more about the future of the people of the 7th District than the Carson legacy. We can't afford any more of Carson selling out our interests to the highest bidders.

Carson On Job Creation: No Comment

Star business columnist John Ketzenberger says the four leading candidates for the 7th District congressional race put job creation at the top of their list of concerns, which he says is "music to local business leaders." Each candidate brings his or her own strengths, except for U.S. Rep. Andre Carson. He's no match for former Wellpoint executive Dr. Woody Myers, newspaper business manager Carolene Mays or the extensive plans of professor and doctor David Orentlicher. On Carson, Ketzenberger writes:

Andre Carson, who won a special election for the seat last month, has the least business experience. He spent most of his career working with the Indiana Excise Police. Many in business here met Carson when he was appointed to a City-County Council seat last year.

Carson, grandson of the late Congresswoman Julia Carson, did not respond to telephone messages seeking comment.

The question remains: Will his famous name be enough to overcome the other candidates' business savvy?

Tully Makes Case For Dumping Burton

Star political columnist Matt Tully used U.S. Rep. Dan Burton's own record against him to make the case for replacing him with emergency room physician and former Marion Co. Coroner Dr. John McGoff. The multiple examples provided in his column speak for themselves. As Tully points out in his column, it is very unusual for him to endorse one candidate over another candidate in any race, but he makes an exception for this race. Here are some facts about Burton's record which Tully believes should lead voters of the 5th District to turn Burton out of office:
  • 1989: Burton sues a local grocery store for $250,000 after his wife pricks her finger on a shelf. He loses the case. 1994: Burton fires a bullet into a "head-like" object, believed to be a pumpkin or watermelon, in his backyard in a much-ridiculed attempt to prove a White House aide was slain. 1995: Burton goes after President Bill Clinton's cat, using his congressional influence to investigate how the White House dealt with Socks' fan mail. 1995: Burton fights new restrictions on lawmakers taking part in golf outings with lobbyists.
  • 1997: A lobbyist for Pakistan accuses Burton of demanding campaign contributions in return for access. 1998: While leading his bungled investigation into Clinton White House fundraising, Burton releases carefully edited transcripts of a Clinton ally's conversations. The transcripts distort the overall tone of the conversations and lead even Burton's fellow Republicans to criticize him. "I'm embarrassed for you," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tells Burton at the time. 1998: A congressional expert calls the Burton investigation, "A prime example of investigation as farce." 1998: Burton calls Clinton, who was impeached after an affair with an intern, a "scumbag." Months later, Burton is forced to acknowledge fathering a child out of wedlock.
  • 2003: Burton and two aides take an expense-paid trip to Guam; he later pushes pro-Guam initiatives. 2007: Burton skips a hearing on the treatment of injured soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. 2007: A report finds Burton spends $702 a month in taxpayer funds for a Cadillac DeVille. Another report finds he has paid his daughter $143,900 from campaign funds in recent years.
  • January 2007: Burton skips a week of House votes to play golf with celebrities in sunny California. January 2007: Burton, who has long been a fan of trips paid for by outside organizations, casts the only vote against stricter ethics rules. The measure passes by a vote of 430-1. 2008: Reports show Burton sharply increased spending on taxpayer-funded mailings to constituents as his re-election campaign heated up.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Softball Questions For Obama

Apparently the Star editorial board was too awe struck at the mere presence of Sen. Barack Obama to ask any tough questions of him during their sit-down interview this week. Whether he is answering a question about his experience, or the lack thereof, or how he plans to balance the federal budget, he always speaks in vague platitudes. The absence of follow up questions to force him to be more specific is emblematic of how the media has treated him throughout this campaign. He said he's been in elective office longer than Sen. Hillary Clinton and cited his judgment in response to a question about his experience. That should have prompted any decent reporter to question his judgment in deciding to join and then attend Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church for twenty years, becoming friends with anti-American terrorist William Ayres and utilizing the services of his close pal and political fixer Tony Rezko to purchase his South Side mansion. Obama said he would eliminate the budget deficit by closing tax loopholes and raising taxes on those who earn more than $200,000 a year. Yeah, right. Again, no follow up questions. Check out Matt Tully's column today for more evidence of this. He's a nice guy. She's not a lady. By the way, congratulations to Tully on being named Indiana's Journalist of the Year.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The State That Shines On Carson

Your representative in Congress raised a cool $41,490.15 during a 48-hour period this week according to a filing with the FEC. I'm down in Miami Beach, Florida this weekend and it seems U.S. Rep. Andre Carson was down here this week doing a little fundraising as well. Who knew he had so many friends in South Florida? Who knew the 7th District is occupied by Cuban-Americans clamoring for a continued trade embargo against Castro's Cuba? Perhaps U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings helped organize this fundraiser for Carson. He's one of only six federal judges to be impeached and removed from office in the history of America. Hastings accepted a $150,000 bribe in exchange for a lenient sentence according to federal prosecutors. He escaped a criminal conviction when a key witness got cold feet and refused to testify; however, that didn't stop Nancy Pelosi, Charles Rangel and John Conyers from voting to impeach him. Here's a sample of who was forking over big bucks in South Florida to finance your congressman's political campaign:

US-Cuba Democracy PAC ($3,000)
Hastings for Congress ($1,000)
Democrats Win Seats ($3,000)
Suhail Naji ($1,000)
Pedro Munilla ($1,000)
Khalid Mirza ($1,000)
Gus Machado ($1,690.15)
Muhammed Rashid Abbara ($1,500)

On that same day (April 22), Carson received a $2,000 contribution from a New Jersey attorney by the name of Jeh Johnson, $1,000 from a New Jersey attorney for MTV, Rhonda Medina, and $1,000 from Najam Najmi of Roseville, California. What possible interest any of these people have in who represents the 7th District in Congress is any body's guess. Dr. Woody Myers' campaign was right. Andre Carson is a living caricature of the Thomas Jefferson character who actor Eddie Murphy portrayed in "The Distinguished Gentleman". In the short time he has been involved in elective politics, he has exercised reckless abandon in auctioning himself off to the highest bidder. Nobody said a damn thing when, as his first act as a newly-appointed City-County Councilor, he quit his job as a state excise police officer to accept a lobbying job with a major city contractor. Carson has repeatedly stated a campaign pledge to fight against the DC lobbyists and CEOs who have too much power in government. The funny thing is that he is the only candidate, Republican or Democrat, in the 7th District who is taking money from these folks. Andre Carson is a living example of just how bastardized our political system has become. If you think he went to Washington to represent you, then you must believe in the tooth fairy as well.

For a highly sanitized analysis of Carson's fundraising, check out Maureen Groppe's report in the Star. She should be holding her head in shame for missing the real story here. The Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy also does a feature story on State Rep. David Orenlticher's 7th District campaign.

How Many Times Can You Discriminate Against One Guy?

That's a question former Chief Deputy Coroner John Linehan may be asking of his fellow Marion County Democrats at this point. After completing nearly 20 years of service in the Marion Co. Coroner's office, Linehan sought his party's slating for county coroner in 2004. At the last minute, then-county chairman Ed Treacy urged the party to slate chiropractor Kenneth Ackles over Linehan to assuage demands from African-American leaders like Julia Carson that he include another black on the county-wide ticket. Despite a questionable slating vote after which Treacy declared Ackles the winner over Linehan by 11 votes, Linehan graciously accepted defeat and supported Ackles in the November election. Riding a Democratic wave in the county in 2004, Ackles managed to defeat a much more qualified Republican opponent, who was a physician.

Upon taking office in 2005, Ackles appointed Linehan as his chief deputy coroner, a position to which Dr. John McGoff, a Republican, had named Linehan on an interim basis during his last year as county coroner. After a rocky year in their relationship during which Ackles falsely accused Linehan of ghost employment at one point, Ackles demoted and then fired Linehan as his chief deputy, whereupon he appointed a less qualified, African-American female to the chief deputy's position. Linehan filed a charge of race discrimination against the Marion Co. Coroner's Office, and an administrative law judge found in his favor last year, awarding him $360,000 plus his attorneys' fees.

Amid rumors that Ackles would not seek re-election this year, Linehan once again contacted Marion Co. Democratic leaders and expressed his interest in seeking the party's slating for county coroner. Under party rules, candidates for slating are required to pay the party a slating fee based upon 10% of the office's annual pay. Ackles is paid $38,000 as county coroner; however, his pay by state law is 50% higher than the regular pay for this part-time job because he is considered a physician. Yes, according to an old Attorney General's opinion, a dentist, a veterinarian and a chiropractor are considered a physician for purposes of qualifying for the extra pay. Because Linehan is not a physician, he would only be paid approximately $25,000 if he is elected county coroner. Accordingly, Linehan tendered a $2,500 slating fee to Marion Co. Democratic Chairman Mike O'Connor. Linehan learned about 45 minutes prior to the deadline for submitting the slating fee that he would have to pay the same amount as Ackles was required to pay despite the pay differential. Linehan would have gladly paid the higher slating fee, but he was out of town when he learned that he would have to cough up more money and could not deliver the additional money prior to the deadline. O'Connor disqualified Linehan from being a candidate at slating on this basis. Ackles was re-slated, as a consequence, without opposition.

By the time the deadline rolled around in February for filing as a candidate in the May primary, Ackles withdrew as a candidate for re-election after it became public knowledge that he had failed an examination he is required to pass under a new state law. The City-County Council subsequently voted to withhold Ackles' pay until he passes the examination. Linehan filed to run in the May primary, along with Dr. Frank Lloyd, Jr. Lloyd, who is African-American, reportedly expressed interest in running against Andre Carson in the 7th District race for Congress. Party leaders encouraged Lloyd to run for coroner instead of the congressional race to avoid further division in that race. Later, the Marion County Democratic Party's executive committee met and decided to slate Lloyd over Linehan. The committee refused to even consider hearing Linehan's appeal to be the party's slated candidate.

So I now count four times in the past four years that Marion County Democrats have discriminated against Linehan because of his race. How many times can you discriminate against one guy before folks say enough of this already?

Show Me The Money

A Star editorial laments the fact that the Capital Improvement Board will not disclose to the public how much the Indianapolis Colts earn from advertising rights at the stadium the public is paying to build and maintain. The editorial reads, in part:

No such challenge has arisen over Lucas Oil Stadium sponsorships and advertising, all of which benefit the Colts exclusively and none of which, except for the $120 million for naming the overall facility, have been disclosed as to dollar amount.

Again Tuesday, approving ad displays from eight sponsors, the CIB noted that it will not be told by the Colts how much the deals are worth. The CIB said as much about the 14 sponsorships previously sold by the team. The Indiana Stadium and Convention Building Authority, which is constructing the stadium that the CIB will run, likewise says it is not let in on the Colts' business in this regard.

What's missing here, from the point of view of taxpayers, is a distinction. True, the Colts were awarded all advertising-related proceeds in the stadium deal, and that is that. However, no one in government has been able to provide justification for keeping the size of the take secret from the public bodies that oversee the stadium, and from the public that owns it.

Saddled with the bulk of the $704 million cost, including any overruns, taxpayers would be interested in knowing how much might have been defrayed if the advertising were thrown into the pot. They know of the $120 million, of course. Experts have estimated that the value of the 14 sponsorships is in the tens of millions. Now there's display advertising, which taxpayers, depending on pending negotiations with the Colts, may have to pay for covering up or taking down for non-football events.

As the excitement mounts over the opening of a new season, and the bills mount as well, it's time to let every investor in the home team's success see the entire portfolio.

The CIB doesn't want you to know how much the Colts are making off of Lucas Oil Stadium at your expense because it knows just how outraged you will be when you learn those figures. The important point to be made in all of this is the fact that the CIB has no means of paying for the operating and maintenance expenses on the new stadium, which are expected to top $10 million annually. That's because the deal the CIB negotiated with the Colts is so one-sided it gives all revenue-producing opportunities to the Colts, depriving the public of any of the benefits. As far as this writer is concerned, the Colts had better plan on giving back some of that money. We the public will be damned if we dig any further into our pockets to subsidize their billion-dollar franchise. If the CIB hasn't already broached that subject with Mr. Irsay, it had better make plans. We will not stand by and allow you to use revenues intended to pay off the cost of constructing the stadium for operating and maintenance expenses. That was your cute little answer to the RCA Dome's financial woes and that's why we still owe $70 million on it, even as we prepare to tear it down.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Orentlicher Forced To Self-Finance Campaign

In a stunning development, State Rep. David Orentlicher has been forced to loan his 7th District congressional campaign $327,000 to compete with U.S. Rep. Andre Carson and Dr. Woody Myers. Ortentlicher's loan to his campaign represents nearly one half of the $701,000 he has raised to date according to FEC records. Orentlicher had $172,000 on hand to make it through the May 6 primary. It had been widely speculated that Orentlicher would raise between $750,000 to $1,000,000 for his primary bid, but nobody anticipated he would have to rely on his own personal funds to meet that goal.

Myers has put at least $1.3 million of his own money on the line to finance his campaign. Carson has raised as much money as Orentlicher, but the vast majority of his funds have come from out-of-state PACs. Orentlicher's campaign has relied on individual contributors. It is worth noting that Orentlicher's latest FEC filing shows he refunded $18,400 in contributions, suggesting the complaint filed by fellow blogger Jacob Perry was not merit less after all.

State Rep. Carolene Mays has belatedly complied with FEC filing and reporting requirements. She reports raising $102,000 with only $17,929 on hand to take her through the May 6 primary. Mays gets most of her money from individuals, including substantial contributions from various family members. Bren and Mel Simon kicked in $1,000 to her campaign. Several of her colleagues in the House contributed to her campaign as well.

Star Wants Clinton-Obama Debate In Indiana

A Star editorial today says Sen. Barack Obama should not disengage from the process after losing badly to Sen. Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania. For the first time in four decades, the Indiana presidential primary is relevant, at least for Democrats. "As such, the candidates need to engage Indiana voters and one another in a forum that stretches beyond glossy TV commercials, showy campaign stops and rote speeches delivered in city after city," the editorial reads. "In short, the candidates need to meet for a debate in Indiana in the next few days." "The Clinton campaign already has accepted an invitation issued by the Indiana Debate Commission, along with its partners CNN and PBS, to stage in a debate here." Well, we're waiting for your answer, Sen. Obama.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

7th Circuit: "Be Happy, Not Gay" Is Not Derogatory Or Demeaning

Many public schools conduct a so-called "Day of Silence" each year to draw attention to the problem many gay and lesbian students have with harassment and discrimination by their fellow students. The aim of the silent demonstration is to promote tolerance for homosexuals. At a large Naperville, Illinois high school, a group of students wanted to hold a counter demonstration the day after the "Day of Silence" called the "Day of Truth". The purpose of the "Day of Truth" demonstration is to convince students that the Bible teaches disapproval of homosexuality. Students participating in the demonstration wanted to wear T-shirts with the legend, "Be Happy, Not Gay." School administrators banned the T-shirts based on a school rule forbidding “derogatory comments,” oral or written, “that refer to race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.” The "Day of Truth" students sued the school to obtain a preliminary injunction against its enforcement of the rule to ban the T-shirts. A district court denied the injunction, but the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling in an opinion released today. According to the Court, "Be Happy, Not Gay" is "only tepidly negative and is not "derogatory" or "demeaning". As the Court explained:

Nevertheless, “Be Happy, Not Gay” is only tepidly negative; “derogatory” or “demeaning” seems too strong a characterization. As one would expect in a school the size of Neuqua Valley High School, there have been incidents of harassment of homosexual students. But it is highly speculative that allowing the plaintiff to wear a T-shirt that says “Be Happy, Not Gay” would have even a slight tendency to provoke such incidents, or for that matter to poison the educational atmosphere. Speculation that it might is, under the ruling precedents, and on the scanty record compiled thus far in the litigation, too thin a reed on which to hang a prohibition of the exercise of a student’s free speech. We are therefore constrained to reverse the district court’s order with directions to enter forthwith (the “Day of Truth” is scheduled for April 28) a preliminary injunction limited however to the application of the school’s rule to a T-shirt that recites “Be Happy, Not Gay.” The school has failed to justify the ban of that legend, though the fuller record that will be compiled in the further proceedings in the case may cast the issue in a different light.
The Court's decision is a little hard to square with its discussion of the phrase "Be Happy, Not Gay". "The plaintiff himself describes 'Be Happy, Not Gay' as one of the 'negative comments' about homosexuality that he considers himself constitutionally privileged to make," the Court said. Yet, the Court doesn't see them as “fighting words,” words likely to provoke a violent reaction and hence a breach of the peace, which the Supreme Court has placed outside the protection of the First Amendment. Even the Court conceded the plaintiff in this case wouldn't stop at a simple T-shirt to prove his point. It writes:

And of course the plaintiff doesn’t want to stop there. He wants to wear T-shirts that make more emphatically negative comments about homosexuality, provided only that the comments do not cross the line that separates nonbelligerent negative comments from fighting words, wherever that line may be. He also wants to distribute Bibles to students to provide documentary support for his views about homosexuality. We foresee a deterioration in the school’s ability to educate its students if negative comments on homosexuality by students like Nuxoll who believe that the Bible is the word of God to be interpreted literally incite negative comments on the Bible by students who believe either that there is no God or that the Bible
should be interpreted figuratively.
I think the only thing the Court has accomplished with its decision today is ensured that there will be more litigation over this issue. The religious right here in Indiana is already sending out warnings to parents to be prepared to spring into action to stop schools from conducting a "Day of Silence". God forbid the schools promote tolerance.

Big hat tip to Indiana Law Blog.

Schellinger Hits Back At Thompson

Jill Long Thompson is another "Washington politician" who voted to "cut Medicare", "cut social security" and "for unfair trade deals that ship our jobs overseas." She's just "more politics as usual." That's what Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Schellinger's latest TV ad has to say about his primary opponent. A press release from his campaign lets you know just how upset Schellinger is with Thompson's TV ad accusing him of making "millions lobbying to raise property taxes to pay for schools he designed." Schellinger had this to say:

“Congresswoman Thompson wants to smear my reputation as a businessperson by slinging falsehoods about my role as an architect and by mischaracterizing policy positions,” Schellinger said. “Honestly, that’s the kind of thing I expected out of Mitch Daniels in November, but she has invited a discussion about public records, so we’re going to have a discussion about all the time she spent in Washington.

“I trust Hoosiers will be able to see a clear distinction between the well documented facts we’re laying out and the misleading attacks Congresswoman Thompson launched earlier this week. At the end of the day, I believe they’ll be able to see which Democrat is running to take Indiana in a new direction and which candidate is relying on Washington-style politics as usual to win at any cost.”

Thompson’s attack, in keeping with her history of misleading and negative campaigning, misrepresents Schellinger and puts forth several false statements as fact. Just yesterday, Thompson’s campaign had to change the ad because it contained photos of buildings that were not designed by Schellinger’s firm. In fact, one of the buildings in the original attack ad was designed by one of Thompson’s campaign donors.

Gee, I wonder who wrote this press release?

Obama Contributor Pleads Guilty To Purchasing State Job From Illinois Governor

A man who contributed $5,000 to Sen. Barack Obama's senate campaign a few years ago has pleaded guilty to buying a powerful state job directly from Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in exchange for $50,000 in contributions to his campaign. According to court documents filed by the U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago, Obama's close political friend Tony Rezko facilitated the purchase of the state job for Ata. “It had better be a job where [Ata] could make some money,” Blagojevich is quoted as telling Ata at a fundraiser about the job Rezko was going to line up for him. Ata eventually landed a $127,000 a year job as executive director of the Illinois Finance Authority. The Sun-Times reports on Ata's plea agreement:

A former top official in Gov. Blagojevich’s administration pleaded guilty to federal charges this afternoon and leveled some of the most significant accusations yet against the governor.

Ali Ata said in his plea deal that the governor offered him a top administrative position in state government in exchange for Ata’s tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.

According to Ata, he handed the governor a $25,000 check for a campaign contribution at a 2002 meeting with Blagojevich and longtime Blagojevich campaign fund-raiser Tony Rezko in Rezko’s Chicago office.

Blagojevich “expressed his pleasure and acknowledged that the defendant had been a good supporter and good friend,” the plea agreement says. The governor, “in the defendant’s presence, asked Rezko if he [Rezko] had talked to the defendant about positions in the administration, and Rezko responded that he had.”

Ata said that, after the meeting, he filled out an application for a state appointment. He previously had given Rezko a list of three agencies to which he would like to be appointed. Later, at a July 2003 fund-raiser for the governor at Navy Pier, Ata — who had contributed another $25,000 — said Blagojevich spoke of him joining the administration and said, “It had better be a job where [Ata] could make some money.”

Ata subsequently was appointed executive director of the Illinois Finance Authority, a $127,000-a-year state job. The authority, which Blagojevich created in 2004, has provided $11 billion in funding for 780 projects . . .

Ata, 56, of Lemont, was a codefendant in a business-fraud case against Rezko — involving Rezko’s fast-food franchises — that has yet to go to trial.

Rezko is now on trial on unrelated corruption charges that accuse him of using his influence in the Blagojevich administration to orchestrate a kickback scheme involving state business deals.

Ata admitted to making false statements to a federal law enforcement officer and a tax-related count. He has agreed to give federal authorities unspecified future cooperation, according to his lawyer, Thomas McQueen.

Bear in mind that Obama's close pal Tony Rezko is at the center of a variety of corruption investigations of Illinois state government being undertaken by federal prosecutors. Obama has admitted that Rezko helped him raise at least $250,000 for his past political campaigns. Rezko also aided Obama in the purchase of his South Side mansion. At one point in their relationship, Rezko and Obama met or spoke to each other on almost a daily basis. Obama's whole campaign is centered around him being an agent of change who doesn't accept any money from lobbyists or special interest groups. If I were the Democrats, I would be getting a little bit anxious about where all these corruption investigations are headed in Illinois and the possible fallout for Obama's presidential ambitions. Several top aides to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley were just ordered to jail and Gov. Blagojevich is almost certain to face indictment as well. You can bet Republicans will use Obama's ties to the corruption in Illinois politics to tarnish his reputation if he's the Democratic nominee.

You Pay When They Don't Do Their Job

When a student fails to turn his homework into the teacher on time, he receives a failing grade. When your elected officials fail to complete their work on time, you pay for it. A Star report today indicates that most counties have not submitted the information the state needs to set property tax rates, including Marion County where the delays will cost taxpayers $30-$50 million in interest costs for the money local governments will have to borrow on a short-term basis to cover spending obligations. "That means homeowners may not know until late summer or fall what they'll owe, while local school districts, towns and other government agencies scramble to cover expenses in the interim," the Star reports. Marion Co. Treasurer Mike Rodman tells the Star tax bills might not go out until November--conveniently after this year's election. Maybe we should start withholding paychecks from the government officials responsible for timely submitting this information to the state like the City-County Council just did with the Marion County Coroner until they do the job they've been ordered to do under Indiana law.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Clinton Evens Things Out Tonight

Sen. Hillary Clinton scored a big 10-point win in Pennsylvania tonight. Her statewide victory in the Keystone State is bigger than that margin indicates. If you remove Philadelphia's vote from the total, Clinton crushed Sen. Barack Obama in every other region of the state, winning all but a handful of counties. The bigger story tonight, however, is the fact that Clinton has wiped out the popular vote lead Obama has held to date, even though she's still more than a hundred votes behind him in the all-important delegate count. In fact, Clinton will take a small lead in the popular vote after all the votes are counted tonight when you include every primary and caucus to date, including Michigan and Florida. That's going to make it a tougher sale for Democratic leaders to convince Clinton she should get out of the race so the party can rally behind Obama. It also puts intense focus on Indiana's primary just two weeks from tonight. An Obama win in Indiana could prove to be a knockout punch, assuming he also wins the North Carolina primary on that same day as expected. Unless Obama can pull off a big win in northwest Indiana, however, I'm inclined to think Indiana's Democratic primary voters are more likely to follow the lead of Ohio and Pennsylvania Democrats in choosing Clinton. Clinton's huge margins in the old industrial towns and rural counties of Pennsylvania tonight probably doesn't bode well for Obama here in Indiana.

Special Treatment For Colts Player?

When Indianapolis police arrested Colts running back Kenton Keith early Sunday morning outside a west side nightclub, he was charged with "disorderly conduct, resisting law enforcement, public intoxication and contributing to the delinquency of a minor for allegedly helping a 19-year-old get into the club." "But prosecutors chose to file only a single trespassing charge," reports the Star's Jon Murray. Who needs to hire Jim Voyles to get a good plea bargainl? It looks like he's already getting all the help he needs from the prosecutor's ofice. At the time of his arrest, WRTV had this report:

The officer said in the report that, when threatened with arrest for not leaving, Keith responded repeatedly he "would not be quiet."

"He kept hollering he was a Colts player, that he wasn’t doing nothing wrong, that he would leave when he got ready," the officer said in the report.

Police also said Keith admitted helping a 19-year-old enter the club to attend a party there Saturday night, resulting in the contributing to the delinquency of a minor charge. Police said the teen appeared to be drunk.

The officer also claimed Keith smelled of alcohol and had glassy eyes.

What's A Lie?

I have to laugh at efforts by the campaign of Jim Schellinger to portray a campaign ad by Jill Long Thompson's campaign as misleading. Specifically, the ad says Schellinger "made millions lobbying to raise property taxes to pay for schools he designed." Now, here's the rub. The Thompson TV ad shows new school buildings that were designed by another architect, who happens to support Thompson. Schellinger's campaign can't dispute the fact that he has made millions designing public schools, which were financed by property taxes levied without a referendum. Does it really matter whether the schools shown in the ad were schools he specifically designed, particularly when Schellinger urged the legislature to adjourn this year without tackling property tax reform or requiring public referenda for major school construction projects? The Thompson campaign has apparently corrected the TV ad with the error being attributed to a photographer, but Schellinger is still preparing a response ad to it according to WISH-TV's Jim Shella. It seems to me that the lie in this story is Schellinger's claim that the underlying assertion by Thompson's campaign is untrue.

Ryan White's Mother Endorses Myers

Dr. Woody Myers picks up the endorsement of Jeanne White-Gender, mother of the late Ryan White, in his quest to unseat 7th District Congressman U.S. Rep. Andre Carson in the May 7 Democratic primary. She explains her endorsement in a press release issued by his campaign:

“When my son Ryan wanted to continue going to school, only one man in all of state government was brave enough to stand up for him. Ryan and I are both so grateful,” said White-Gender. “With all that’s wrong with our country, we need courageous people like Dr. Myers in Congress who will do what’s right.”

As Health Commissioner from 1985-1990, Dr. Myers championed Ryan’s cause when his community turned against him. Diagnosed with HIV in 1984 from infected blood-based products, 13 year-old Ryan was told to leave his public school for the erroneous fear he would spread the virus through casual contact. At a time when HIV-AIDS was widely misunderstood, Dr. Myers boldly took on his role of Indiana’s state’s medical expert, educated Hoosiers on the nature of the virus and took action to bring a voice to a child who needed it most.

“I’m so honored Jeanne is helping out our campaign,” said Myers. “She exemplifies the hope and courage of the people of Indianapolis. She serves as a role model in compassion and tenacity to our city and our nation.”

Myers has been criticized by some in the GLBT community because he once favored the quarantine of all AIDs patients who knowingly spread the disease and tracking all persons who tested positive for the HIV virus when he was Indiana's health commissioner. When former New York Mayor David Dinkins appointed Myers to head that city's health department, he met with strong opposition from New York's gay community. Myers later softened his position after he learned more about the disease.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Carson Turns To Labor Unions And Muslim PAC For Money

The campaign of U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, struggling to compete with the self-financed campaign of Dr. Woody Myers, raised $30,000 in special interest money from a variety of labor union PACs and the Indiana Muslim Political Action Committee according to his latest filings with the FEC. That's a drop in the bucket compared to the $450,000 Myers just kicked into his campaign treasury, bringing his total contributions to nearly $1.3 million. There is no indication the DCCC is dumping any money into Carson's primary race like the $250,000 it gave to Carson in the special election race against State Rep. Jon Elrod.

Hate Crime Charge Dropped Against Cooney

You may recall that I suggested last October that the hate crime charge leveled against the son of a former high ranking Bush Administration official looked like another Duke lacrosse injustice. Not long after I first suggested that, it became apparent the prosecution's case against Phillip Cooney, a Georgetown University sophomore, was falling apart. My suspicions have now been confirmed by the U.S. Attorney's decision to drop all charges against Cooney. The victim used Cooney's Facebook profile and photo to identify him as a suspect after he said a classmate allegedly overheard Cooney discussing the assault. The victim later identified Cooney in a police lineup and Cooney was charged, even though the classmate told police he never told the victim Cooney had discussed the assault. Where does Cooney go to get his reputation back now?

Bopp's Back With One Of Your Judges

Indiana Right to Life attorney Jim Bopp has found two Indiana judicial candidates willing to pursue his political agenda for him in federal court to compel Indiana judicial candidates to declare their position on hot button social issues like abortion and gay marriage so that the religious right can use these polarizing issues in judicial elections just like they do in legislative and executive branch races. Marion Co. Superior Court Judge David Certo, who was appointed last year to the bench by Gov. Mitch Daniels to take Judge Cale Bradford's position after he was appointed to the Court of Appeals, has joined Kosciusko County Superior Court judicial candidate Torrey Bauer in filing a lawsuit to overturn Indiana's judicial canons which prohibit judicial candidates from making "pledges or promises" or making statements that "commit or appear to commit" the candidates on cases, issues or controversies likely to come before the court. Bopp put out a press release last week about his latest lawsuit:

Two Indiana judicial candidates filed suit today in federal court to block enforcement of Indiana rules prohibiting them from responding to a survey asking their views on abortion, euthanasia, and other issues. Judge David Certo, a Superior Court Judge in Marion County, and Torrey Bauer, a candidate for Superior Court Judge in Kosciusko County are joined in the suit by Indiana Right to Life Committee, a non-profit organization.

The case arises out of a survey Indiana Right to Life sent to candidates for judicial office in the May 2008 election, requesting that they state their views on policies and court decisions related to abortion, euthanasia, and other related issues . Several of the judicial candidates refused to do so, especially in view of a Preliminary Advisory Opinion issue by the Commission on Judicial Qualifications that warned that judicial candidates who make “broad statements on disputed social and legal issues” run the risk of violating the Indiana Code of Judicial Conduct.

Indiana Right to Life had previously challenged these Indiana rules during the 2004 election. But while a federal district court initially found the Canons in question unconstitutional, the case was ultimately dismissed on the grounds that Indiana Right to Life had not shown there were any judicial candidates who wanted to answer its questions.

That’s not a problem this time, as two of Indiana Right to Life’s co-plaintiffs are candidates for judicial election in 2008.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals last year threw out a similar lawsuit brought by Bopp's Right to Life group because there were no judicial candidates who were a party to the case who had faced disciplinary action or feared violating the code of judicial conduct if they answered Right to Life's questionnaire. Bopp has now found two judges, including the unelected Certo, to advance his frightening ideological agenda. Now you know. Judge Certo has just allied himself squarely behind Jim Bopp's Indiana Right to Life organization, which wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. Bopp and his organization also want to relegate all gays and lesbians to second-class citizen status. Bopp has been the leading legal scholar in Indiana pushing the badly-flawed and mean-spirited SJR-7 amendment being pushed by the religious right. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with Judge Certo's positions or his belief that judges should be allowed to announce in advance how they will decide cases and controversies which come before his court on these hot button issues, you won't have a chance to vote either way this year even though he's on the election ballot. That's because both political parties brokered backroom deals to select each party's judicial candidates for the November ballot. You will have no choices in the May 6 primary. You will have no choices in November. Are we living in the Unites States of America or the Islamic Republic of Iran?

It is bad enough that these wedge issues are trotted out every election to divide us in legislative and executive branch races, but if Bopp and his followers get their way, judges will be no different than those elected from the political branches of government. No more will we have an independent judiciary. What confidence can a party to a lawsuit have that his or her case will be decided fairly if the judge has already declared how he or she will decide a case in advance? This nonsense has completely convinced me that we have to end the practice of electing judges altogether. A merit selection system will have to do.

UPDATE: The Indiana Law Blog has posted documents pertaining to the lawsuit. According to the Complaint, Judge Bauer completed the questionnaire and now fears he will be found to have violated the judicial canons. The Complaint says Judge Bauer was unaware the Indiana Right to Life decision had been reversed by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals last year before he completed and returned the questionnaire. Judge Certo states that he wanted to respond to the questionnaire but believes doing so would violate the Indiana judicial canons. You can view the questions Indiana Right to Life elicited from judicial candidates here. The Complaint indicates that 10 candidates completed the questionnaire, while another 21 candidates declined to answer some or all of the questions.

Here's a sample of some of the questions being asked:

"I believe that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided"
"I believe that abortion should be permitted only to prevent the death of the mother"
"I believe that Humphreys v. Clinic for Womenwas wrongly decided" (decision said Medicaid must pay for abortion where mother's pregnancy poses serious risk of harm to her health)
"I believe that there is no provision of the current Indiana Constitution which is intended to protect a right to assisted suicide"
"I believe that Bader v. Johnson was wrongly decided (defined a "wrongful birth" case to be treated like other medical malpractice cases)

A big hat tip to the Indiana Law Blog.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

FEC Complaint Filed Against Orentlicher

Blogger Jacob Perry has filed a complaint with the FEC alleging that the campaign of 7th District Democratic candidate David Orentlicher violated federal contribution limits of $2,300 per election. He specifically identifies three violations in his complaint. It's my understanding that a contributor can donate $2,300 per election. In the 7th District this year, there are technically four elections: special election caucus, special election general, primary and general election. Technically, a candidate in the 7th District race could collect a total of $9,200 as long as the contributions are separately designated among these four elections. Can Orentlicher collect that amount from a single contributor in advance? Prior to filing his complaint, Perry says he vetted the issues he raised in his complaint with a campaign finance attorney, who believes the donations in question violate the law on contribution limits. I'm not sure of the nuances of this law, although I understand the so-called "Millionaire's Amendment" triggered by the campaign of Dr. Woody Myers allows other candidates in the race to exceed the $2,300 limit. Perry points out in his complaint, though, that the contributions in question were made prior to the filing of Myers' Millionaire's Amendment.

Schellinger Accuses Thompson Of Lying

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Schellinger lashed out at a negative TV ad his opponent, Jill Long Thompson, began running this weekend. The ad attacks Schellinger for supporting higher property taxes to finance school construction projects which benefit his architectural firm. Calling her "a career politician," Schellinger said the allegation is untruthful. His campaign issued this statement from him:

“When Laura and I decided more than a year ago that I should run for Governor, people warned us that there are politicians who will say and do anything to get elected.

“I knew I would be running against one of those politicians in Mitch Daniels, but I’m extremely disappointed that my Democratic primary opponent would launch these kind of distorted, meritless attacks against me.

“I’m a business leader who comes from a working-class family with strong values. My parents taught me to tell the truth. We’ve taught our boys to tell the truth. Jill Long Thompson is not telling the truth.

“We don’t have time for the desperate politics of yesteryear when there are so many important issues on the table. That’s why I’ve put forth detailed plans to address those issues that matter most to Hoosier working families. I don’t believe election year pandering will solve our problems.

“For the past three years, Hoosiers have endured Washington-style leadership as Mitch Daniels has forced them to accept his agenda of privatization and his poor economic stewardship. It’s time to move beyond politics as usual. We need leadership that listens and leadership that brings us together.

“I’m not a career politician. I bring a different perspective, and I believe Hoosiers are ready for that kind of Governor.”

A Tale Of Two Jim Schellingers

Last October at Brian Howey's HPR Forum, the Democratic candidates for governor faced off in their first head-to-head public appearance. The room at the Madame Walker Theater where the two spoke was filled with lobbyists, political enthusiasts and State House reporters. The candidates were asked about their position on SJR-7, the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages and the recognition of any similar rights for unmarried couples. Jill Long-Thompson unabashedly stated her opposition to the amendment. She added that she would support the recognition of civil unions for same-sex couples. Jim Schellinger, too, said he opposed SJR-7, but he also made it clear he supported Indiana's Defense of Marriage Act, a law proposed by Eric Miller of Advance America and authored by Rep. Woody Burton and which defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Because of Indiana's DOMA, Schellinger said he thought SJR-7 was "unnecessary" and sent a "message of intolerance."

A little more than a week ago, Thompson and Schellinger gathered at a much less public reception hosted by the Stonewall Democrats at the home of Councilor Jackie Nytes. At this event of Indiana gay and lesbian Democrats, Schellinger's lesbian sister gave a teary-eyed introduction of her loving brother according to one of the attendees. This time when Schellinger spoke there was no talk of supporting Indiana's DOMA. Schellinger said he would veto SJR-7. Someone had to point out that the governor has no role in whether a constitutional amendment makes it to the Indiana ballot for consideration by voters. Schellinger added that he would support a hate crimes law. He still wasn't going as far as Thompson, however, in supporting civil unions.

Schellinger's open embrace of his lesbian sister at this private reception was no doubt a moving experience for those in attendance. It would be easier to believe he sincerely supports human rights advancements for gays and lesbians like his sister, however, if he embraced her when he discussed issues like SJR-7 to the public and where the press is present. His TV commercials, after all, tout the values he was taught growing up with seven brothers and sisters in South Bend. "Most of all , treating other people with dignity and respect," he says. The impression I had from his appearance at the HPR Forum was that he was more interested in pandering to the religious right than advancing civil rights for gays and lesbians. On the abortion question at the HPR Forum, Schellinger said his Catholic faith taught him that abortion was wrong, but he said he would enforce current law, which he has no choice but to do. What does that mean?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Myers Poll Shows Two-Man Race In 7th District

A new internal poll released by the campaign of Dr. Woody Myers suggests the race for the Democratic nomination in the 7th District congressional race has become a two-man race between Myers and U.S. Rep. Andre Carson. According to the poll conducted April 13-15, Myers is trailing Carson 34%-28%. State Rep. David Orentlicher placed third in the poll with 13%, while State Rep. Carolene Mays came in fourth with 7%, with another 18% undecided. The Myers poll, which was conducted by Global Strategy Group, found that Carson's support had fallen 11 percentage points from an earlier poll conducted shortly after the March 11 special election, which Carson won over State Rep. Jon Elrod (R) with 54% of the vote. Myers, on the other hand, raced passed Orentlicher, going from 11% to 28%, after launching a huge media buy in the district. Myers' campaign is also pleased that their candidate is the top second choice for both Carson's and Orentlicher's supporters. The poll found that Carson was viewed favorably by 70% of the poll's respondents. The poll has an error rate of plus or minus 4.9%.

Clay Pulls Plug On Obama-Clinton Debate Offer

Gary Mayor Rudy Clay first invited Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama to square off in a debate at the Genesis Center in downtown Gary prior to the Indiana primary. After Sen. Clinton accepted the offer, Clay withdrew it. "A debate could get off track into other issues," Clay told the Gary Post-Tribune. Clay is backing Sen. Obama. Apparently, Obama's campaign doesn't want to participate in any more debates now that the media has finally decided it's time to start asking some tough questions of him. Yeah, it should matter that Obama chose to join the church of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and stayed there for more than 20 years, that Obama is friends with anti-American terrorists like William Ayers, and that he thinks small town folks are just bitter people who "cling to their guns and religion." It doesn't look like Indiana will get its own debate between the two candidates.

Does anyone find irony in the call of Democratic national chairman Howard Dean and other leading Democrats to bring this nomination battle to an end before elections have been held and the votes are counted in all the states? Wasn't it those same folks who accused Republicans of being undemocratic for not allowing all the votes to be "recounted" in Florida before the 2000 presidential race was declared in favor of Bush? At least the Republicans waited until all the votes had been counted at least once before asking to end the process.

Friday, April 18, 2008

New Poll Puts Obama And Thompson On Top

A new poll released by IU-Purdue University-Fort Wayne has Sen. Barack Obama leading Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Indiana presidential primary and Jill Long-Thompson ahead of Jim Schellinger in the Democratic gubernatorial race. Obama is leading Clinton 50%-45% according to the poll. Thompson is leading Schellinger 47%-41%. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4.2%.

Earthquake Rattles Indy

It's very rare, but Indianapolis felt a slight tremor this morning at about 5:40 a.m. I was laying in bed when my bed started shaking. It didn't last more than a few seconds, but it was enough to rattle your nerves. WTHR reports that the quake could be felt in parts of East Central Indiana and as far south as Evansville. No reports of any damage so far. The U.S. Geologocical Survey is recording it as a 5.4 magnitude quake. Here are the details, which indicate it was centered in Southeast Illinois near the border with Indiana in West Salem, Illinois:

Friday, April 18, 2008 at 09:36:56 UTC
Friday, April 18, 2008 at 04:36:56 AM at epicenter
38.520°N, 87.873°W
5 km (3.1 miles) set by location program
12 km (7 miles) E (90°) from West Salem, IL
13 km (8 miles) NE (53°) from Bone Gap, IL
14 km (9 miles) W (266°) from Allendale, IL
36 km (22 miles) WSW (241°) from Vincennes, IN
67 km (41 miles) NNW (335°) from Evansville, IN
206 km (128 miles) E (93°) from St. Louis, MO
UPDATE: If you thought you felt an aftershock at about 11:15 a.m., you did. The U.S. Geological Survey recorded an aftershock with a magnitude of 4.5 from the same epicenter in West Salem, Illinois.
Mayor Ballard is taking the earthquake seriously. His administration put out a press release this morning, which tells us that all is well. It reads, in part:
The Indianapolis/Marion County Emergency Management agency has been monitoring the situation throughout the morning. At this time, there are no reports of injuries or damage. Many city agencies such as the Department of Public Works, Department of Metropolitan Development, IMPD& IFD will have personnel out throughout the day, monitoring the situation and responding if damage reports are received.

Citizens Gas, United Water and IPL have all reported no damage and will be
re-assessing throughout the next few hours. Roads, Bridges and water facilities have all checked out with no damage.

Because we don't live in areas that usually feel earthquakes, this came as quite a shock to many Indianapolis residents. People do need tounderstand it has happened before and will happen again. Being prepared is vital to individual and family safety.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Carson Out Of Money?

An item on Jim Shella's blog hints that U.S. Rep. Andre Carson has run his tap dry. According to Shella, Carson ads scheduled to air on WISH-TV this week were pulled after the campaign failed to make advance payments. Shella writes:

TV ads for Congressman André Carson slated to run on Tuesday, Wednesday, and today did not air because of a failure to make the required advance payments.

Carson campaign manager Alex Zwerdling confirmed this afternoon that no payment was made. He, at first, suggested that that it was the result of a strategic decision, then changed his answer to, “No comment.”

If Carson is truly out of money and unable to purchase a sustained media buy in these closing three weeks of the campaign, that provided all the more incentive for him to swap endorsements with Sen. Barack Obama.

Mystery Explosion In Kokomo

At the beginning of WTHR's 11:00 p.m. new broadcast, a breaking news report discussed a mystery explosion in Kokomo which rocked homes in the area. A caller on the telephone told WTHR's John Stehr that a firefighter neighbor said a plane had crashed in the area. When police and rescue teams scurried to the site, no signs of an explosion could be found. The FAA and Grissom Air Force Base confirmed there were no unaccounted for planes. The Kokomo Tribune's John Dempsey discusses the "boom in the night":

A loud boom that shook homes and buildings in Howard and Tipton counties around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday night may have been caused by a meteorological condition.

The boom was apparent from Kokomo’s northside to homes in the city of Tipton.

In reports made to authorities, people told of seeing flare-type lights in the western sky immediately after hearing the noise, leading to the possibility there had been some type of plane crash.

Initial reports brought countless police, fire and rescue units to an area near the intersection of U.S. 31 and 300 North in Tipton County. But, after finding nothing while searching that area, the search began moving west and north back into Howard County.

Units responding included sheriff deputies from Howard and Tipton counties, Kokomo and Tipton city police, Indiana State Police, Howard County Emergency Management Agency and fire departments from Harrison and Taylor townships, Sharpsville and Kempton.

After nearly an hour of searching, however, no debris of any sort had been found. Authorities at Grissom Air Reserve Base and Indianapolis International Airport were contacted, but they told police they had no aircraft missing.

So if it wasn't a downed plane, what created the explosion? There is speculation it could have been a meteor because of the metallic smell detected over Kokomo following the explosion. Apparently a similar explosion happened near Logansport the night before. "The same situation occurred approximately the same time Tuesday night in Logansport and northern Cass County, according to the Logansport Pharos-Tribune," Dempsey writes. One witness wrote this account in a comment on the Star's report on the story:

I live in Kokomo and when my family heard the boom we all looked around. After the boom, me and my father saw lights to the west. But they weren't moving at all. They were completely stationary, a whitish yellow, and pulsed 3 times and disappeared. I don't know why I would see lights like that AFTER the boom if it was something falling to the ground. I've never seen anything like them before. The lights were a series of circles, each getting bigger from left to right. They collectively brightened and dimmed 3 times before disappearing. I would like to see the videotape someone captured, and compare it to what I saw. I sure hope they find something today.

Another Kokomo witness commented on the Star's first online report that three F-16s were spotted in the sky immediately following the explosion.

UPDATE: The Indiana Air National Guard is now considering the possibility it is responsibile for the incident, attributing it to F-16s on maneuvers in the area. The Star's Tom Spalding writes:

Tech Sgt. Darin Hubble with the 122nd Fighter Wing, an Indiana Air National Guard unit based at Fort Wayne International Airport about 70 miles away, said military officials are investigating if F-16 training might explain the Kokomo booms and lights and similar reports Tuesday over Logansport.

He said training often includes pilots shooting flares and can produce sonic booms that shake the ground below.

“We’re allowed to do training missions in that area and our F-16s are equipped with flares that erupt in order to evade heat-seeking missiles. They’re a deterrent,” he told the Associated Press . . .

Hubble said the National Guard’s Joint Force Command in Indianapolis would release a statement this afternoon on the reports. But he said the 122nd’s logs do not indicate the jets producing sonic booms Tuesday or Wednesday night. Logansport Police Chief A.J. Rozzi said he heard a loud sonic boom on Tuesday night, and then heard the sound of a jet high overheard. He said residents also reported seeing fire streaks in the sky.

He said it is common for the 122nd to conduct missions in the area and believes F-16 training almost certainly explains the sights and sounds.

“They’ve been doing that training for quite a while. I don’t know what maneuvers they’re actually doing, but they do shoot out streaks of light,” he said.

Major Brian Martin, a spokesman North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, said none of the thousands of manmade objects — spent rocket vehicles, satellites — that government tracks re-entered the atmosphere over the U.S. on Wednesday night.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Out For Hillary

It's the experience, stupid! That's the message I heard over and over tonight from nearly three dozen members of the Indianapolis GLBT community who gathered tonight at Downtown Olly's to cheer on Sen. Hillary Clinton in her debate with Sen. Barack Obama. Event organizers, Adam Freeman and Nick Murphy, were very pleased at the number of supporters who turned out tonight to show their support for Clinton. Freeman, an executive assistant at AT&T, and Freeman, IT Director for the Julian Center, both cited Sen. Clinton's experience as the number one reason they preferred her over Sen. Obama as did almost everyone to whom I spoke tonight.

Because of her experience working closely with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, Freeman expressed confidence that she would know what to do to get things done from day one. He feels Obama wouldn't hit the ground running and would have to learn on the job. Murphy notes that Clinton was the first First Lady to share offices in the West Wing of the White House with the president's staff as evidence of her knowledge of running the federal government. Murphy says his familiarity with Indiana legislators with experience similar to Obama's doesn't give him much confidence that Obama is ready to be president.

Morgan told me that Clinton already has specific plans on how she will run the country if she is elected. "Obama speaks in generalities, while she is more specific about her plans," she explained. Zack thinks Obama is "brilliant and invigorating", but he still turns to Clinton because of her experience. "She won't need on-the-job training like he will." Zack earlier supported Obama before switching his allegiance to Clinton. He was very disturbed that Obama used ex-gay gospel singer Donnie McClurkin to campaign on the same platform with him during the South Carolina primary. No longer gay, McClurkin now claims that homosexuality is a choice, a view that is anathema to GLBT voters. To a lesser degree, Obama's pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, concerned Zack. "I agree with most of Wright's views, but I have a real problem with his "Goddamn America" view. "He doesn't recognize the progress we've made as a country."

Lori is unabashed about her support for Clinton. As a woman, she thinks the media coverage of Clinton has been very sexist. She thinks Clinton is strong on GLBT issues and health care, two important issues to her. Like almost all of the people I interviewed tonight, Lori thinks both candidates are strong on GLBT issues. She thinks the Clinton campaign, however, has been more effective at reaching out to and organizing support with GLBT voters. The Rev. Wright flap didn't bother her as much as the way Obama handled it after it became a matter of public debate. Clinton has been through so much over the years she is better prepared to act in difficult times Lori explains.

I did manage to find one Obama supporter in the crowd. Kevin Fyfe likes both candidates, but he is supporting Obama because he thinks that there are just too many Clinton haters in Indiana, and that Obama has the ability to attract voters Clinton will never get. He thinks Obama will be competitive in November in Indiana if he is nominated to run against Sen. John McCain. On that note, everybody I spoke to plan to support the Democratic nominee for president regardless of whether it is Clinton or Obama. And almost everyone was in agreement that Clinton isn't getting a fair shake from the media. Several people complained about Obama's repeated use of the race card in this campaign when it's convenient.

I tried to gauge the reaction to U.S. Rep. Andre Carson's endorsement of Obama today. Overwhelmingly, the people gathered tonight support David Orentlicher in the 7th District primary race for Congress. Some of the people I spoke to complained that Carson had reneged on his earlier pledge to stay out of the race and let the voters decide. Most thought his endorsement would make no difference one way or the other and would have little impact on his own race.