Friday, February 25, 2011

Who Is Paying For Indiana Democratic Lawmakers' Out-Of-State Travel?

When a reporter for WTHR-TV questioned Indiana Democratic lawmakers holed up in a Champaign, Illinois hotel this week in order to shut down the business of the Indiana House of Representatives about who was paying for their out-of-state travel, the reporter was told the Indiana Democratic Party was picking up the tab. A tip I received suggested labor union lobbyists may have pledged money to the state party to cover the cost of the lawmakers' hotel rooms. The problem with that arrangement as I pointed out in a post earlier this week is that a new Indiana law that took effect with the start of this legislative session expressly prohibits lobbyists from paying for out-of-state travel expenses of lawmakers. By Wednesday night after I raised the issue, some Democratic lawmakers were changing their tune on who was picking up the tab for their hotel rooms. Today, the Indiana Democratic Party sent out an e-mail solicitation for contributions to help pay the cost of the legislators' out-of-state travel. The solicitation emphatically declared that "Taxpayers aren't footing the bill":

The Indiana Democratic Party has committed financial resources to enable our lawmakers to continue fighting for working Hoosiers without involving any public dollars. There’s no reason everyone should pay for GOP obstinacy.

Still, this fight isn’t a cheap one, and we sure could use your help.

If you support Democrats standing up for the middle class, and you can afford to bolster our efforts, please consider making a contribution today so that we can maintain our strong commitment to working Hoosiers.

The Governor and his Republican lawmakers have drawn a clear line in the sand: it’s our way or the highway.

Democrats chose the highway. In the end, it’ll also be the high road.

We can’t afford to let Republicans run our state into the ground by stomping all over our rights and workers.

Please stand with us as we stand up to an agenda that’s wrong for Indiana.

P.S. Your contribution of just $25 would be a huge help as we keep up the fight. Please click here to use our secure, easy online donation form. Thank you for your support!
Some concerned lobbyists thought it a bit odd the party had committed funds up front to pay for the lawmakers' out-of-state jaunt given how cash-strapped it became after last year's election debacle. If the Democratic lawmakers are indeed trying to circumvent the ban on lobbyists paying for their out-of-state travel by washing payments from the labor unions through the Democratic Party, contribution records of the party organization would confirm that. Violation of the ban is a Class D felony. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has authority to investigate and prosecute violations of the law. Perhaps the Indiana Democratic Party is trying to generate a mix of contributions to muddy the waters if an investigation were to take place.

Ironically, this latest solicitation by the state party appears to be an effort to skirt another new law pushed by former House Speaker Pat Bauer that prohibits lawmakers and candidates for state office from soliciting, accepting or engaging in fundraising activities while the legislature is in session. While IC 3-9-2-12's prohibition applies to current legislators and statewide officeholders and candidates for legislative or statewide office, the solicitation by the Indiana Democratic Party is being made for the direct benefit of Democratic lawmakers to offset the cost of them pursuing their legislative agenda while holed up in the Land of Lincoln. The fundraising effort violates the spirit, if not the express language of the statute since state party committees are not covered by it. If the state party didn't pick up the tab, it is unlikely the lawmakers would pay the tab out of their own personal funds; rather, they would tap into their campaign accounts to pay for their travel. It looks to me like it's a matter deserving of an investigation, but I won't hold my breath waiting for this Attorney General to investigate it.

UPDATE: WISH-TV quotes Democratic State Party Chairman Dan Parker as saying the daily cost to the party to keep the Democratic lamakers in Illinois is $2,500. "Reached by phone in Washington, D.C. Parker said he is paying $2,500 a day. He says he's received online contributions to help pay the cost and may solicit more." Parker was no doubt in Washington getting pointers from Obama's thugs on how to create havoc in Indiana to the maximum extent possible to damage Gov. Mitch Daniels. The purpose of WISH-TV's report was to defend the Democrats from claims by House Speaker Brian Bosma the Democratic walkout is costing taxpayers $90,000 a day. Of course WISH-TV would ask nothing about the potential violation of criminal laws raised if indeed these out-of-state expenditures are being bankrolled by big labor as I suspect. Remember, Jim Shella doesn't believe political corruption exists in Indiana, at least if it involves his friends at the State House.


Downtown Indy said...

So... They aren't committed to their folly sufficiently to pay for it on their own?

Just like with their healthcare folly -- it doesn't matter what you do or what it costs. Just get someone else to pick up the tab for it.

AmericanVet said...

How does acting like spoiled children equal "taking the high road?" Who thinks going AWOL from work is right?

Concerned Taxpayer said...

So...the republicans are being obstinate?
Remind me...who did the MAJORITY OF VOTERS of this state ELECT to REPRESENT them in the Statehouse?

M Theory said...

Whose paying for it? Why we all are with the taxes we pay to the salaries of the union workers are forced to pay monies to the union.

I hope someone is auditing.

Mann Law, P.C. said...

Are the Democrats receiving their tax free per diems which are to help defray the cost of their lodging during the session?

Unknown said...

No Call no show on my job results in dismissal. Call your Democratic Majority Leader 317-232-9600 and voice your opinion...

Unknown said...

No call no show results in dismissal on my job... Call the Democratic Majority Leader 317-232-9600 and give them your opinion...