Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lugar Smear Against Mourdock Is Also A Smear Against Daniels

Gov. Mitch Daniels may be backing the 80-year-old Sen. Richard Lugar for re-election to an unprecedented seventh term, but Lugar's latest attack on his Republican primary opponent, Richard Mourdock, is an indirect assault on the record of Gov. Daniels. Lugar's campaign has been attacking Mourdock for supposedly not showing up for work 66% of the time because he doesn't personally attend meetings of the State Board of Finance and other state boards upon which he is a member; instead, he chooses to send a designated representative of his office, a standard practice for state elected officials. Gov. Daniels is also a member of the State Board of Finance and, like Mourdock, he sends a representative of his office to represent him at the meetings. Using the Lugar standard for attacking Mourdock, you could argue that Daniels failed to show up for work 100% of the time. A Mourdock press release today explains:
In fact, one board singled out by the Lugar ad, the State Board of Finance, meets for about 5 minutes once a month. When Treasurer Mourdock can’t attend, he sends a senior staff member with full voting powers to attend on his behalf. Governor Daniels is also a member of the Board of Finance. For every single meeting since 2007, Governor Daniels has chosen to send a senior aide rather than attend personally. Does this mean that Dick Lugar is accusing Governor Daniels of not showing up for work?
Mourdock's campaign also points out that Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman chairs the Indiana Housing Board, but she, too, sends a member of her staff to attend the board's meetings as her designated representative. Naturally, the Indiana news media isn't calling bull on Lugar's specious attack against Mourdock. Frankly, if I owned a radio or TV station which is now airing those misleading Lugar ads, I would refuse to air the ads because they are a flat out lie. Obviously, Indiana's media would rather make money off Lugar's lies than stand on principle.

Here's a new line of attack I would propose to the Mourdock campaign. I believe if you add up all the days Lugar spent outside the country on foreign junkets over the past 20 years, you would discover that he actually spent more time outside the country than he spent in Indiana. I kid you not. Over the past twelve years, Lugar accepted free travel on at least 56 separate occasions, typically courtesy of the Aspen Institute, a global think tank, according to Legistorm, trips valued at more than $400,000. Lugar's wife often accompanied him on those free trips. Most of those trips were outside the country, but some were within the United States to popular vacation destination spots. Over the past twelve years, Lugar spent 360 days traveling to places other than Indiana. That's more than an entire year! Even worse, the Memorial Day holiday weekend when most Hoosier are back home in Indiana for the Indianapolis 500 festivities, Lugar is taking these free junkets almost every year that weekend. Nope, he's not a Hoosier any more, Andrea Neal. Get your facts straight the next time you put your pen to paper.

R.I.P. Davy Jones

The most famous member of the Monkees died today of an apparent heart attack at the age of 66. Yeah, I must confess to being a big Monkees fan as a child. Their TV show is one of the earliest shows I remember watching regularly on TV. This performance of "Daydream Believer" took place during one of the band's reunion concerts at New York's Beacon Theater last year sans Michael Nesmith. Interestingly, the Davy Jones' Band performed at Merrillville's Star Plaza Theatre on January 29, 2011 where it was announced there would be a Monkees Reunion Tour that would commence at the Star Plaza Theatre on May 12, 2011. The group kicked off the tour in May in the United Kingdom with Jones, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork, but the tour got cancelled after the group arrived in the United States after honoring tour dates in June and July here due to "internal group issues and conflicts."

Vop Osili Shouldn't Be Measuring The Drapes Just Yet

After watching the live streaming over the Internet of the oral arguments in the Charlie White eligibility case before the Indiana Supreme Court this morning, I think it might be a bit premature for Democrat Vop Osili to start measuring the drapes for his new office in the State House. Despite winning only 38% of the vote, Osili, with the help of Democratic Marion Co. Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg, is trying to hijack the will of Indiana voters and hand the Secretary of State's office to Osili based on the specious claim that White was ineligible to run for the office because he wasn't "legally" registered to vote.

Every Supreme Court justice who questioned attorneys for both sides in this case seemed to be really struggling with the idea that White, who has always been a resident of the state and registered to vote in Hamilton County, could somehow be deemed ineligible to run for the office because he allegedly wasn't registered to vote in the proper precinct. Justice Dickson even asked the question I alone have raised since neither of the parties discussed this issue in their briefs. The Indiana Constitution imposes no residency requirement on secretary of state candidates like it imposes on the governor, let alone a requirement that a candidate be registered to vote. How can the legislature add a qualification that is not required by the state's constitution? Osili's attorney did her best to argue that the additional requirements imposed by the legislature were reasonable, but Justice Sullivan wondered about other requirements, such as being a licensed attorney. As a general rule of constitutional interpretation, when specific eligibility requirements are provided for in the constitution, the legislature is not free to impose additional eligibility requirements not specifically required by the constitution.

Justice David, the newest member of the court, seemed bothered that the interpretation of the law by Judge Rosenberg and defended by the Democrats would result in the disenfranchisement of many otherwise eligible voters. Justice David referred to the problem of a "residence of nowhere." White's attorney, David Brooks, very effectively argued to the justices that Judge Rosenberg's interpretation of the law essentially left White without a residence at which he could legally be registered to vote. Brooks pointed to Indiana case law that makes it perfectly clear that a person's future intent to have a residence different than their current residence, as White so intended, does not make a person's current intended residence invalid. None of the justices seem to buy the Democrats' argument that the law could be interpreted to mean more than requiring a candidate for the office of secretary of state to be registered. Whether the person was registered at the time in the correct precinct seemed an irrelevant question to be asking if I was reading the justices' minds correctly.

Justice Dickson also seemed concerned that a state statute providing that a person who received the second most votes in a general election would assume the office once a vacancy is created as completely at odds with a provision of the state's constitution allowing the governor to fill a vacancy in a state office until a successor is elected and qualified. Osili's attorney, Karen Celestino-Horseman, argued that the Constitution only allowed the governor to fill the vacancy temporarily; however, clearly Osili was never elected, even if White is deemed to not be qualified. Attorneys for neither side were prepared to discuss the question first raised about the statute allowing the second highest vote-getter to take office at the opening of today's hearing by Justice Sullivan, but I think the constitutional provision can only be read to mean that the governor appoints White's successor, since White had already been deemed the winner of the election and sworn into office.

That leads to the next question with which the justices wrestled: Did the Elections Commission even have authority to hear the challenge to White's election since it was not raised in a timely fashion? The Election Commission generally only has authority to hear disputes raised and decided more than 60 days before the election because of the need to print ballots and begin absentee voting for the election. The Democrats conceded that their challenge could not be brought before the election because they didn't raise the issue by the statutory deadline. Yet the Democrats believe they should be allowed to overturn the election post-election based on an eligibility challenge it should have raised prior to the election. The attorney for the Attorney General, Steven Creason, made a very strong argument that the Commission lacked authority to hear the post-election challenge. He pointed out that all of the relevant evidence the Democrats used to challenge White was known at the time he was nominated for the office in June, 2010, long before the deadline for filing a challenge with the Commission. That argument seemed to resonate with the justices.

Horseman, not surprisingly, repeatedly raised the issue of White's criminal convictions in Hamilton County on the very vote fraud issues at issue in the eligibility appeal before the court. She argued that the court should take judicial notice of those convictions and use the evidence of that guilty verdict against White in this case. Justice Sullivan was quick to point out to her that the criminal case was likely to be heard by the Supreme Court, which "may or may not" agree to uphold those convictions. It would be preposterous for the court to rely on the ruling of that criminal case, which as I've pointed out was chocked full of errors, and that a good appellate lawyer should be able to get most, if not, all of those convictions overturned on appeal.

I would not be surprised if the Supreme Court hands down a preliminary ruling with a full opinion to follow as early as late today given the gravity in settling for now who holds the right to serve as secretary of state. If the court rules affirms Judge Rosenberg's ruling, it could allow Osili to take office. If it reverses Rosenberg's ruling and affirms the Recount Commission's decision in favor of White's eligibility, then Gov. Daniels will be able to appoint a permanent replacement. White, for now, has forfeited the office by virtue of the Hamilton County felony convictions. The justices wondered how Gov. Daniels had authority to name Jerry Bonnet only as an interim secretary of state. The Attorney General's attorney, Creasor, suggested the decision was made by agreement between Bonnet and Gov. Daniels that he would hold the office only temporarily until the case before the court today is decided. He could not cite a specific law giving Gov. Daniels authority to name a temporary replacement.

Neal Part Of The Media Mafia Protecting Lugar

Sen. Richard Lugar has thumbed his nose at the U.S. Constitution and its requirement that he be an inhabitant of the state of Indiana in order to serve it in the U.S. Senate for 35 years now by refusing to maintain a home within the state. The facts are undisputed, but the Indiana media continues to lie to Hoosier voters about the constitutional requirement that Lugar is breaking by not having a home in Indiana. Andrea Neal, a very shallow former editor for the Indianapolis Star, perpretrates the big lie in a column she inks today in the Star, entitled, "Now as then, he's a Hoosier." Neal writes:

To borrow a phrase from the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, I may not be able to define the word Hoosier, but I know one when I see him. And Sen. Richard G. Lugar is the quintessential Hoosier.
Lugar has spent most of his life in public service on behalf of the residents of this state. On that point, not even his primary opponent can disagree. Yet the Indiana Election Commission was forced to parse the words of both federal and state constitutions last week to confirm that our senior senator is indeed eligible to run in the May primary.
Although he didn't file a formal complaint, Lugar's Republican primary challenger, State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, has tried to make a campaign issue out of Lugar's lack of physical residence in Indiana.
The argument is nonsense and a distraction from pressing issues that deserve candidates' attention.
The state constitution is unequivocal: "No person shall be deemed to have lost his residence in the State, by reason of his absence, either on business of this State or of the United States."
Furthermore, an attorney general's advisory opinion issued after Lugar's first Senate election stated, "If a person has established residency for voting purposes in an Indiana precinct prior to his or her service in Congress, that residence remains the Congressperson's residence as long as he or she remains on the business of the state or the United States." . . .
To insist that public servants making $174,000 a year maintain second homes just for the sake of appearance would be both costly and unreasonable.
Mourdock's argument is especially specious considering that Lugar is still a principal owner of the family farm, Lugar Stock Farm, in Marion County.

As I've repeatedly complained about, Lugar, the Elections Commission and the news media have all simply read out of the legal challenge against Lugar the fact that it is based on the U.S. Constitution, not the Indiana Constitution. The state constitution cannot change the meaning of being an inhabitant for purposes of Lugar's eligibility to serve in the Senate. Federal courts have made clear that in order to be an inhabitant, a senator or representative must be able to show both a physical presence in the state and an intent to habitate within the state. Lugar may intend to be an inhabitant, but his refusal to maintain any home within the state for the past 35 years fails the physical presence requirement set out in the U.S. Constitution by the inhabitancy requirement.

Neal's suggestion that maintaining two homes would be both "unreasonable" and "costly" is laughable. The man makes $174,000 a year. The Internal Revenue Code has afforded members of Congress a tax break no other Americans enjoy--namely, the ability to deduct the expenses for maintaining that second home in Washington. The tax break was added to the Code to help offset the cost of maintaining two homes. Neal apparently doesn't know that when the "inhabitant" requirement was included in the U.S. Constitution adopted by the states--from that point until the Great Depression--Congress met in Washington for its sessions less than half the year, spending most of the year in their states of residence. Congressmen typically only rented apartments or stayed in boarding houses while Congress was in session. The idea that senators and representatives would become permanent residents of the nation's capital was anethema to the founders of our constitution.

Neal goes on in her column to raise the Evan Bayh residency case, which again, had nothing to do with federal law. That decision was based entirely on state law and whether Bayh met the residency requirement to run for Indiana governor under Indiana's Constitution, which required him to reside within the state at least five years prior to running for that office. Either Neal is totally ignorant of the law or deliberately lying to the Star's readers to protect Lugar. Either way, her so-called journalism is unaccepted practice by any standard, but it's the low-rent trash we've come to expect from the Star since it was taken over by media giant Gannett.

Did Federal Prosecutors Cover Up $400,000 Payment Rezko Made To Obama?

The former business partner of convicted Chicago political fixer Tony Rezko, who helped launch Barack Obama's career in Chicago politics, charges that he gave Rezko $400,000, which Rezko passed on to then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama according to a Chicago blog, Illinois Pay To Play. The claims are based on a high profile FBI informant, Robert Cooley, a former Chicago mob lawyer, who the FBI used to help prosecute scores of corrupt Chicago pols. Cooley was the government's star witness in cases that led to the successful prosecution of a powerful Chicago alderman, a chief judge in Cook County, the Assistant Majority Leader of the Illinois Senate and the only federal judge in the history of the U.S. to be convicted of fixing a murder trial.

Cooley's shocking claim is based on e-mails and conversations he has had with Daniel Frawley, the former business partner of Rezko. Frawley had been engaged in discussions with Cooley concerning collaboration on a book about Chicago political corruption. Frawley agreed to wear a wire during U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of Rezko. During the two years that Frawley aided federal prosecutors in its investigation, he allegedly informed them that he had been giving money to Rezko that was being passed on to Obama. In a May 31, 2011 e-mail to Cooley, Frawley discusses going public about his allegations that Obama received at least $400,000 from Rezko:

From: Dan Frawley (address deleted)
Date: Tue, 31 May 2011 08:08:15 -0500
Subject: Frawely [sic] vs Weaver
To: Robert XXXXX (Cooley address deleted)

Hi Bob
I think the best way to bring this to the public and media is to fact plead the malpractice case against Weaver.

I have discussed this with my attorney's and they are willing to do it at the right time and way. Instead of a news conference being called like the gay guy did with Obama.


I would bring this out in the for [sic] of a legal action not a personal vendetta. The media with the right reporters would make sure that was national news. When the usual denials are made or the old I don't remember I hit him with the second naming names dates and places.

Punches are always more effective when thrown in combination. know [sic] we figure out the best timing.


Cooley confirmed to the publication that "you know who" in the e-mail is a reference to Obama. Frawley is also referencing in the e-mail the press conference Larry Sinclair held to discuss his allegations that he had sex and did cocaine with Obama in the back of a Chicago limousine while Obama was still serving in the Illinois Senate. Frawley says he wants to go public "at the right time and way" and "not like the gay guy did with Obama." Frawley, according to Cooley, claims he was repeatedly told by the feds to keep quite about the money he had given to Rezko to give to Obama during the two years he was wearing a wire to help them in their investigation of Rezko.

Frawley's allegations concerning money Rezko gave to Obama first surfaced during a December, 2010 deposition he gave during a legal malpractice case he brought against his former attorney, George Weaver, who he alleges was not representing his best interests. Frawley said that Weaver had interrupted a telephone conversation he was having with Rezko while he was wired up by the feds to instruct him to end the conversation and withhold certain information. Frawley was asked to confirm in the deposition if the information his attorney wanted him to withhold pertained to the payments Rezko made to Obama. Frawley declined to answer the question based on advice given to him by the attorney representing him at the deposition.

Interestingly, two months after Frawley was deposed in that case, the federal prosecutors with whom he had been cooperating charged him with bank fraud, even though the statute of limitations for the crime had passed. Frawley pleaded guilty to the charge in February, 20111 and agreed to pay $4 million in restitution. Cooley tells Illinois Pay To Play that the feds also instructed another FBI informant, Bernard Barton (a/k/a John Thomas), not to tape any conversations concerning Obama. The publication wonders if the feds didn't punish Frawley to keep him quiet about the explosive allegations of Obama taking money from Rezko. Cooley claims he had face to face meetings with Frawley where he told him that he gave more than $1 million to Rezko, who told him that he needed the money to help Obama.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Whistle Blowers Say Mismanagement At Department Of Workforce Development Contributed To $2 Billion Debt

The state of Indiana's unemployment trust fund that is used to pay the benefits of unemployed workers is $2 billion in debt to the federal government. While the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression contributed greatly to the fund's insolvency, current and former employees of Indiana's Department of Workforce Development say management decisions exacerbated the problem. WISH-TV's Deanna Dewberry had an excellent report last night discussing how management encouraged workers to resolve claims in favor of employees to speed up processing of unemployment claims, leading to many errors. One of the key managers responsible for the bad decision, according to Dewberry's report, was actually honored by Gov. Daniels for a job well done.

Inefficient. Poorly managed. Sloppy. These strong words are being used to describe the agency that pays Indiana's unemployed. Whistleblowers came exclusively to I-Team 8 to expose this story years in the making.
One of those whistleblowers is a former DWD employee who we'll call Ken. He knows the Department of Workforce Development well. He worked there as one of the people who decides whether you're eligible for unemployment. When asked whether the unemployed can be assured their cases will be decided fairly and accurately he answered, "I would not have faith, no. And I don't think a lot of people do."
Ken doesn't want us to identify him for fear of state retaliation. But another former DWD worker, Andrew Gray, shared his story openly.
"It's a poorly run department," said Gray.
The state's unemployment rate skyrocketed from 4.7 percent in January of 2008 to a record high 10.9 percent just a year and a half later. As unemployment reached its peak, internal e-mails obtained by I-Team 8 detail how the Department of Workforce Development - drowning in claims, calls and appeals - may have resorted to questionable tactics that contributed to a $2 billion debt.
He points to an October 2009 e-mail from Ronnie Miller, then the Unemployment Insurance Director of Benefits and Appeals. In it, Miller told DWD employees to get the number of appeals to a "more manageable number" that week. He instructed them to "correct every case based on information provided by the claimant, fix what they say is wrong." He goes on to say, "I understand that this might create some error on these cases, and we are willing to accept that in exchange for getting the case count reduced."
When asked whether he believed some unemployed claimants were paid who shouldn't have been and vice versa, Ken replied, "Oh, I can guarantee that, yeah."
I-Team 8 uncovered memos even more disturbing. An e-mail with DELETE DOCUMENT WORK in the subject line tells employees to delete documents older than 150 days. It went to DWD workers who deal with reports from the public about problems, errors and fraud in the system.
"Remove from your inbox," the e-mail reads. "You do not need to do anything else with them." That means hundreds of people who wrote DWD about problems and waited for a response are likely still waiting. No one ever read your letter or e-mail. It was likely deleted.
"He wanted the number down so he sent an e-mail out department-wide to delete 50 a day," said Gray.
For reducing the caseload, Ronnie Miller was honored by the governor with the prestigious public service achievement award. Miller, who now works in the private sector as an attorney specializing in ethics, refused our request for an interview.
Workers allege it wasn't quality, but quantity and quotas that mattered.
Ken says there was a motto in the department that decided whether unemployed Hoosiers are eligible for unemployment.
"Read it and write it, or read and write for short," said Ken . . .
DWD Commissioner Mark Everson refused to be interviewed by Dewberry for the story. She finally attempted to ask questions of him at a monthly meeting where he made a presentation. He left the room quickly to avoid answering her questions. A spokesperson for the agency told Dewberry to submit her questions via e-mail. She got a response with a general denial and nothing more.

Imagine if Gov. Daniels was running for president right now. The Obama administration would have the national media all over the Department asking questions about why it has the worst error rates in the country. The reporters would also be packed in Judge David Dreyer's courtroom in downtown Indianapolis where the state and IBM are suing each other trying to learn all they could about how badly Daniels privatization of the Family & Social Services Administration failed, costing taxpayers more than $500 million. With no national campaign, it's up to the local news media to scrutinize the Daniels administration, which generally treats it with kid gloves.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Lugar Amended Registered Office Address For Lugar Stock Farm, Inc. After Ethics Complaint Filed

It looks like an admission of wrongdoing. After certified fraud examiner Greg Wright filed an ethics complaint with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics complaining about Sen. Richard Lugar using his official Senate office in Indianapolis as the registered office for Lugar Stock Farm, Inc., Sen. Lugar filed an amendment to the Secretary of State corporate filing on February 22, 2012 for the family-owed farm changing the registered agent for the company to his brother and listing his brother's address as the registered office for the company. The amendment came just three days after Wright filed an ethics complaint against him. Wright notes that even the elections complaint filed against Lugar challenging whether is an inhabitant of Indiana eligible to run for the Senate was mailed to him at his official Senate office in Indianapolis because the state had no personal address for him in Indiana at which he could receive official mail. Lugar's official office should be receiving nothing pertaining to his re-election campaign.

Thomas R. Lugar is now the registered agent, and his home at 8391 N. Illinois Street in Indianapolis is now listed as the registered office for the address. Sen. Lugar is still listed as the company's president and principal at his McLean, Virginia home. Lugar has been using his official Senate office at 10 W. Market Street in Indianapolis as the registered office for the family business for many years. Notwithstanding the belated amendment, the Senate Ethics Committee should look into the reason Lugar was using his official office for his private business matters for decades.

Naturally, the Indiana media has ignored the ethics complaint against Lugar despite his apparent disregard for Senate Ethics rules prohibiting him from using his official Senate office to conduct his private business affairs. Lugar simply tells the media it's an honest mistake, and it's the end of the story. When his Republican opponent, Richard Mourdock, was questioned about a homestead exemption the Marion Co. Auditor's office had mistakenly assigned to his Indianapolis condominium, the media pounced all over him despite the fact that it was Mourdock who discovered the Auditor's Office mistake and initiated action to rectify the problem. The Auditor's office even admitted it was their mistake, but Mourdock's name was still dragged through the mud by the Indiana media that is totally beholden to Lugar and is doing his bidding for his unprecedented seventh re-election campaign.

Johnson County Law Enforcement Officers Accused Of Vote Fraud In Wake Of Charlie White Conviction

I warned people that you could expect more felony charges being trumped up against people for exercising their right to vote in the wake of the specious charging and conviction of former Secretary of State Charlie White on felony vote charges for doing something no differently than voters in this state do at every election. A Johnson Co. Prosecutor facing his own investigation of his strange personal conduct involving accusations that he stalked a female employee of the Johnson Co. Sheriff's department is now asking a special prosecutor to investigate whether four employees of that same Sheriff's department and a Franklin police detective committed vote fraud by casting votes in the wrong precinct. The Star reports:

A special prosecutor will investigate allegations of voting irregularities involving five Johnson County law enforcement officers.
Saying he wants to avoid the appearance of a conflict, Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper filed a request Feb. 15 asking a judge to name a special prosecutor to investigate whether four Sheriff's Department employees and a Franklin police officer voted in the wrong precincts in the May 2010 primary . . .
According to documents filed in the Johnson County clerk's office, which oversees elections, the allegations involve four Sheriff's Department employees: Chief Deputy Randy Werden, Deputy David Emery, crime lab investigator Melissa Carter and Communications Director Bryan Wolfe. None of the four responded to messages from The Indianapolis Star . . .
Franklin Police Detective Scott Carter also is alleged to have voted in the wrong precinct.
In a telephone interview, Carter said he and then-wife Melissa Carter had moved to another home in Franklin, which was in the same voting district, and explained the situation to poll workers on Election Day 2010.
"I went to the precinct to vote and I was told to vote at the old precinct," Carter said. "I'm a law enforcement officer and I wasn't aware there were stipulations involving this.
"If I was an average person," he said, "I'd be afraid to vote just because they're going to be afraid they're going to do something wrong."
The circumstance described by Carter allows him to vote one last time at his old precinct after he moves as long as he lives in the same congressional district. If he had not updated his voter registration to his new address yet, he would be told by election officials to return to his old precinct to vote where election officials should also have him to fill out a change of address form so that he is registered in the proper precinct at the next election. This happens in virtually every precinct in this state every election day. Carter is absolutely correct. Average joes should be scared to death to vote in this state based on the legal standards adopted in the Charlie White case. Over zealous prosecutors could literally prosecute thousands of Hoosier voters every election using the standards applied to White.

According to the Star report, a person who doesn't even live in Johnson County, Ethan Allen Bailey, delivered the complaint and supporting documents to the Johnson County Clerk's office. It would be interesting to find out if Bailey has any connection to the Johnson Co. Prosecutor. Melissa Carter, one of those accused of committing vote fraud, is the same woman that Prosecutor Brad Cooper was accused of stalking.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lugar's Pyrrhic Victory

Sen. Richard Lugar's campaign, not surprisingly, overcame a legal challenge to his Senate candidacy before the Indiana Election Commission, paving the way for the 80-year-old to seek an unprecedented seventh term representing Indiana voters in Washington. The legal challenge is at best a pyrrhic victory for Lugar. The light shined on his Indiana residency status, or the lack thereof, is an issue that won't go away. The recitation in today's Star is hardly the talking points the Lugar campaign wants to see:
Lugar is under fire from his Republican opponent, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, and Democrats over his address. Lugar -- though he owns a Marion County farm -- lives in McLean, Va., and sold his Indianapolis home in 1977 after winning his first election to the Senate.
He has continued to use that Indianapolis address as his voting address and on his driver's license.
His campaign has distributed advisory opinions and letters from three attorneys general of Indiana, including current Attorney General Greg Zoeller, stating that Lugar acted within the law.
I wasn't able to attend the hearing but was able to watch it after the Commission obtained permission at the last minute to stream the hearing being held in the Indiana House chambers live over the Internet. The ignorance of the commission members and the attorneys who appeared before the Commission as to the issue before it was on display. It's amazing how Attorney Generals can write opinions that have absolutely nothing to do with the matter at hand and yet it is relied upon as the law. The Attorney General opinions cited at the hearing only offered the opinion that Indiana law, not federal law, permitted Lugar to maintain his voting residence at a home he sold 35 years ago. The opinion is specious, but it had nothing to do with the challenge, which was based on whether Lugar was an inhabitant of the state of Indiana.

Federal court decisions make clear that a person must have both a physical presence and an intent that a state be his place of habitation. See Jones v. Bush explaining why Dick Cheney was an inhabitant of Wyoming and not Texas. Lugar, by his own admission, has no physical presence in Indiana. Owning a farm here with no occupied residence is not sufficient to establish physical presence. Lugar's attempt to prove his habitation within the state is based on a driver's license that he obtains using the address of the home he sold 35 years ago. Even his mailing address for his family farm is listed on Secretary of State records as being his home in McClain, Virginia, the only home he owns. Commission members were hanging their hat on a legal opinion that only opined that Lugar did not lose his ability to vote in Indiana despite having no residence here because his 35-year absence was attributable to his service in the Senate.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, which Lugar's attorneys omitted in their brief filed with the Commission, concerned former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's eligibility to stand for re-election due to lack of inhabitancy in the state of Texas. The decision made clear that a representative or a senator must be able to establish that he is an inhabitant at the time of the election. The U.S. Constitution's inhabitant requirement for senators and representatives does not say they only have to be an inhabitant at the time of their first election, and that they can then cease to be an inhabitant of their state altogether because it's permanently locked in as long as they continue to be re-elected.
Riordan and Long said they were troubled by the fact that Lugar was voting in a precinct in which he does not live, using an ID that lists a home that is someone else's residence.
Still, Long said, the issue wasn't whether Lugar is eligible to vote, only whether he is considered an "inhabitant."
"If I'm going to make a mistake, I'm going to err on the side of letting someone be on the ballot," he said.
"The fact is Richard Lugar has served this state well, and no one's ever raised this before," Long added. "It was clear he tried to do it correctly. He went to the attorney general and got opinions that this was OK."
The Commission members relied on the Attorney General's opinion for the basis of determining Lugar in an inhabitant for purposes of the U.S. Constitution despite the fact that the opinion clearly limits its reach to Lugar's voting status within the state. The Democratic members seemed more concerned about whether Lugar was legally voting at his former address, but that was the only thing the Attorney General's opinion deemed permissible. I believe the Attorney General has totally conflated the original intent of the provision contained in Indiana's Constitution that protects a person from losing their residence within the state during absences in service to the federal government. When that provision was added to the state's constitution, Congress did not even meet year-round as it does today. Our country was still a predominantly agrarian nation, and many members of Congress were farmers. Congress met no more than six months a year prior to the Great Depression. The framers of Indiana's Constitution could not have imagined that the provision would allow a senator or representative to give up his home in Indiana and move permanently to Washington upon his election, which is exactly what Lugar did.

The Democrats are savoring the opportunity to run against Sen. Lugar this fall on this issue. A press release from the Democratis Senatorial Campaign Committee says it all:
The ballooning controversy surrounding Dick Lugar’s Virginia residency just won’t go away. This weekend, Lugar finally answered for having moved out of Indiana in 1977 and just like his campaign spokesman, he proceeded to stick his foot in his mouth twice. First, Lugar admitted that his lack of an Indiana residence has been an issue for the whole time he has served in the Senate. But even worse, he told an Indianapolis T.V. station that he didn’t know what address was listed on his Indiana-issued driver’s license.
"Talk about out of touch. Who on earth doesn’t know what address is listed on their driver’s license?” asked Shripal Shah, spokesman for Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “After moving out of Indiana more than three decades ago, Lugar has shown time and again he has simply lost touch with Hoosier voters. Whether he’s voting to bloat the federal debt by trillions or explaining how he hasn’t lived in Indiana since 1977, Dick Lugar is proving everyday why he’s part of the problem in Washington.”
When asked this weekend why he left Indiana permanently for the D.C. suburbs in 1977, Indiana Senator Dick Lugar didn’t do himself any favors, telling an Indianapolis TV station, "We've had the issue for the whole time I've served in the Senate.” That’s true – Lugar hasn’t lived in Indiana since 1977. But Lugar’s response to questions about the address on his Indiana-issued driver’s license was even worse, with Lugar telling RTV6 that“he isn't sure what address is on his Indiana driver's license but presumes it was from the house he” sold in 1977. The comments come after his campaign previously.
The reaction of Lugar's Republican primary opponent's campaign was spot on.  "If Senator Lugar wants to continue to cling to a legal technicality in order to avoid living in Indiana, he apparently will be allowed to. But it only proves our point of how out of touch he has become with Hoosiers," Mourdock spokesman Chris Connor said. Mourdock's campaign is touting a straw poll taken in Muncie at a gathering of precinct committeepersons from Henry and Delaware Counties. Mourdock captured 88% of the vote compared to Lugar's 12% showing. That doesn't say much about Lugar's support among rank and file Republicans after six terms in the Senate.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Dora-Owned Hotel Next To Lucas Oil Stadium Files Bankruptcy

With all the talk of the financial boom Lucas Oil Stadium and the Super Bowl brought to downtown Indianapolis this month, this is a story that should bring discomfort to other downtown hotels as the city pours tens of millions more in public dollars into the construction of yet another hotel downtown not far from Lucas Oil Stadium. The Comfort Suites Hotel owned by a company controlled by former Capital Improvement Board member John Dora's family right next to the stadium has filed for bankruptcy.

The Comfort Suites City Centre on the southwestern fringe of downtown has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection, the latest sign of continued financial strains in the lodging industry.

Central Indiana hotels received a huge boost from the Super Bowl but still are reeling from the financial crisis. A surge in hotel construction led to sharp room discounting after the economy tanked in 2008.

The owner of the Comfort Suites City Centre, Warsaw Hotel Partners LLC, is an affiliate of Dora Brothers Hospitality Corp. in Fishers. Warsaw’s bankruptcy petition, filed Feb. 17, lists assets of $1 million to $10 million and liabilities of $10 million to $50 million. The largest creditor is New York-based German American Capital Corp., which is owed $12 million.

Comfort Suites City Centre, 515 S. West St., continues to operate, as is customary for hotels seeking to reorganize their debts through Chapter 11.
Did you catch that? "A surge in hotel construction led to sharp room discounting after the economy tanked in 2008." Yet Indianapolis taxpayers have subsidized the construction of three new hotels in recent years, including the Conrad Hilton, the JW Marriott and the yet-to-be constructed Dolce Hotel that is part of the North of South CityWay development, also on the Downtown's southside.

Whoops, Santorum Had Enough Signatures After All

I'll let you try to make sense of this. Cindy Mowery, a Republican elections worker in the Marion County voter registration office, initially claimed that Rick Santorum's 7th District petitions lacked the required 500 valid voter signatures. That triggered a slew of challenges being filed against Santorum's candidacy to keep him off the ballot for Indiana's Republican presidential primary. Those challenges are scheduled to be heard today before the Indiana Election Commission. Yesterday, Mowery changed her mind and now says that Santorum had enough valid signatures after all. Sorry, nothing to see here, move along now. Hum.

How Can Attorney General Greg Zoeller Ethically Defend The Case Of Charlie White's Prosecutors On Appeal?

Ousted Secretary of State Charlie White is looking to the future as he should. The juggling act of the special prosecutors in that Hamilton County courtroom will now get a sharper lens focused on it by appellate judges who take an oath to uphold the state's constitution and laws as White exercises his right to appeal his criminal convictions. The duty falls to the state's Attorney General to defend state prosecutions before the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. There's one big problem here. Greg Zoeller has already filed a brief with the Indiana Supreme Court stating that Charlie White was legally registered to vote at his ex-wife's home. If White was legally registered to vote at his ex-wife's home, he could not have committed at least five of the six felonies of which he was convicted. In his brief, Zoeller's office says:
White was registered in Indiana and was constitutionally and statutorily entitled to vote.
He was also properly registered to vote at the Broad Leaf home. He had properly abandoned all other residences to which he could return. Broad Leaf was also the home of his immediate family because his son lived there. Generally, Broad Leaf was a "non-traditional residence," which election law defines as not fixed or permanent. He intended to live there until he was married and moved to the Overview condominium.
In the sentencing hearing yesterday, Judge Steven Nation said that the trial court found that White had "intentionally defrauded the public by using his ex-wife's home to vote and continuing to take his Fishers Town Council salary after he had moved out of the district." How can Zoeller's office argue on appeal in the Recount Commission case that White was "properly registered to vote" at his ex-wife's house and defend White's criminal convictions based on him being illegally registered to vote at his ex-wife's house? The answer, in short, is that he can't under the rules of professional conduct. If Zoeller believes what his office wrote in that brief in the Recount Commission case, he has a legal obligation to argue on White's behalf in the criminal appeal that these special prosecutors and Judge Nation got the law wrong. Not just a little wrong, but badly wrong. The theft issue over drawing his Fishers Town Council salary for a few month period is a separate matter, but a proper application of Indiana law on that issue should also be resolved in White's favor as well because he stole nothing from Fishers. Judge Nation did not ask White to pay restitution because Fishers' officials communicated to Judge Nation that the town had not been a victim and White owed them nothing.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

No Jail Time For Charlie White

Hamilton Co. Superior Court Judge Steven Nation sentenced former Secretary of State Charlie White to one year of home detention for the six felony convictions a jury returned against him earlier this month on vote fraud-related charged and fined him $1,000. He ordered no restitution because, well, there was nothing to repay taxpayers. This was never a case about public corruption or violating the public trust. This has been a total witch hunt from day one to turn legal acts into crimes in an effort to toss an innocent man from office. Billionaire immigrant George Soros is laughing his ass off at the success his self-financed campaign to disrupt America's democratic institutions by targeting state elections officials and to promote the misapplication of state election laws is having in Indiana, savoring the day when the United States of America lands on the ash heap of history. Look over here at nothing while we steal your elections blind state by state.

The two special prosecutors looked peeved when they spoke to reporters after the sentencing hearing that White received no jail time. It's not enough that they succeeded in causing White to lose his office for doing what voters and candidates do every day in every election in this state without consequence, consistent with our own Supreme Court's long-standing decisions allowing for a liberal determination of a person's residence for purposes of voting. White also faces disbarment because of the felony convictions and personal bankruptcy. I have confidence that the Indiana Supreme Court will eventually correct the miscarriage of justice that occurred in that Hamilton County courtroom. Charlie White is not a criminal. The problem is that by the time higher courts have settled that issue it won't matter anymore. White will be left asking where he goes to get his reputation back.

One last time, folks. No vote fraud took place here. No theft took place here. No perjury took place here. The judgment of this court is an unprecedented application of the law that should scare the hell out of every person who holds a citizen's fundamental right to liberty and political participation sacred. The only thing I've taken away from this case is how easy it is for our criminal justice system to be crooked and warped by people who have an agenda other than taking care that the laws are faithfully executed and prosecuted on the same terms to all citizens. Get on the wrong side of the wrong people and you will pay the price. I will await real justice in this case from our state's Supreme Court. If the court follows its long-standing precedents, it will find that White was legally registered to vote and should never have even faced jeopardy of office, let alone multiple felony charges. We shall see.

Judicial Nominating Commission Narrows Supreme Court Choices To Three

The Judicial Nominating Commission has narrowed the Supreme Court vacancy search to three finalists it will now send to Gov. Mitch Daniels for consideration. Two men and one women have been recommended to the governor, including his former chief counsel, Mark Massa, Court of Appeals Judge Cale Bradford and Indianapolis attorney Jane Seigel, head of the Judicial Center. The best choice of that pick in my opinion is Seigel, and I'm not just saying that because of the need for diversity on our state's Supreme Court. I worked with Seigel on occasion when she worked as counsel for the Indiana Association of Cities & Towns and have nothing but the highest respect for her. She has a very diverse background and an impeccable understanding of the legal ins and outs of local government. Massa would obviously be the most political choice. Bradford was Daniels' first appointment to the Court of Appeals. He served many years as a trial court judge in Marion County and worked as a former federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's office. The governor now has 60 days to make a decision. The Judicial Nominating Commission's next order of business will be to select the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to replace retiring Chief Justice Randall Shepard.

Zoeller Opinion Only Says Lugar Has Residency For Voting Purposes

An opinion released by Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is being construed by the media to mean something other than what it actually says. Zoeller's opinion states only an interpretation of Indiana's Constitution and statutory law to mean that Sen. Richard Lugar did not lose his residency in Indiana for voting purposes. The opinion says nothing about whether Lugar is constitutionally eligible to represent Indiana in the U.S. Senate. The U.S. Constitution mandates that he be an inhabitant of the state at the time of his election. By his own admission, Lugar stopped living in Indiana 35 years ago when he sold his home here. Ever since he has relied upon that former address as the registered voting address for him and his wife. Zoeller's opinion says state law permits him to do that, although I think Zoeller and his predecessors have conflated the state constitutional provision beyond its original meaning. The opinion signed by Matthew Light reads:

If a person has established residency for voting purposes in an Indiana precinct prior to his or her service in Congress, that residence remains the Congressperson's residence as long as he or she remains on the business of the state or the United States. A continual physical presence is not required in order to maintain his or her residency status.
That says nothing of the requirement set out in federal court decisions clearly establishing that members of Congress must be inhabitants of their respective states "when elected", not just the first time the person stands for election to the Senate or the House of Representatives. The Lugar campaign and the media have misrepresented the argument made by Lugar's primary opponent, Richard Mourdock, to suggest Mourdock was saying he wasn't eligible to vote in Indiana. He said no such thing. Mourdock cited the U.S. Constitutional "inhabitancy" requirement for Senators and asked Lugar to re-establish a home in Indiana to avoid running afoul of this requirement should he be re-elected at this year's November election. Lugar's campaign and the media have conflated the Attorney General's opinion to mean that he is constitutionally eligible to be elected to the Senate without having any physical presence in the state. Under the U.S. Constitution, the Senate gets the final say on the qualifications of its members upon their presentment to that body after their elections to take their oaths of office.

It should be pointed out that Zoeller's opinion says nothing about the right of Lugar's wife, Char, to continue casting votes in Indiana as she has done for the past 35 years. Although Zoeller and previous Attorney Generals read the state constitution to permit the state's Senators and Representatives to give up their residency altogether, I believe the intent of the framers of that provision was to ensure that they would not be deemed to have lost their residency due to the fact that their congressional duties require them to spend the majority of the year in the nation's capital. I don't believe it was ever contemplated that Indiana's congressional members could simply take permanent leave of the state upon their initial election and never look back. Indeed, most, if not, all of the rest of Indiana's congressional delegation maintains some form of residence within the state, even if they primarily reside with their families in Washington, D.C.

Indiana Election Commission Hearing Won't Be Live Streamed

Apparently the powers that be have decided they don't want what takes place at tomorrow's Indiana Election Commission hearing broadcast live over the Internet for the world to see. The Commission has a packed agenda that will hear challenges to the presidential candidacies of Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and President Barack Obama, the Senate candidacy of Sen. Richard Lugar and the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Jim Wallace, among a long list of other challenges. You can view the agenda here. The meeting has been moved from the government center to the Indiana House of Representatives chamber. The reason for not live streaming the meeting is that supposedly House Speaker Brian Bosma said that only live sessions of the Indiana House of Representatives may be live streamed from the chamber. I smell a rat.

Rockport Exemption For Industrial Users Removed By House From Tax Bill

It looks like there are some good judgments being made at the Indiana General Assembly this year. An exemption the Senate put into a tax bill, which would have allowed industrial natural gas consumers to avoid the consequences of a long-term purchase agreement the state of Indiana entered into with the politically-connected developers of a proposed Rockport coal gasification plant, has been axed by the House Ways & Means Committee. The Evansville Courier-Press explains yesterday's committee action:

Questions about a synthetic natural gas plant proposed for Southern Indiana led a House committee Wednesday to strip tax breaks for the $2.6 billion project from a bill that already has passed the Senate.
The Ways and Means Committee also eliminated language from Senate Bill 344 that would have taken industrial customers — those who use so much natural gas they strike their own purchasing contracts — out of the customer deal that led the General Assembly to OK the plant in 2007.
“I am still for the project,” said Rep. Suzanne Crouch, R-Evansville, who voted for the Indiana Gasification plant in 2007 and authored Wednesday’s amendments.
“But I believe the General Assembly has provided enough tools for the project,” Crouch said. “When is enough enough? When do we move from a public-private partnership to a publicly subsidized project?”
Evansville-based Vectren Corp. had lobbied for the provisions removal out of fears that consumer prices for natural gas will be even higher than they already will be if utilities are forced to purchase natural gas from the new synthetic coal gasification plant at Rockport above market rates. The prices set in a 30-year agreement with the state are double current market rates.

Officials from Evansville-based Vectren Energy appear to be largely responsible for the Ways and Means Committee’s action. The company has been lobbying against the tax breaks for the project and has appealed a decision by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to OK the 30-year contract between Indiana Gasification and the Indiana Finance Authority.
“We were pleased to see nearly every member of the committee acknowledge that the natural gas world has changed, and that there are serious questions about building a plant that will burden Hoosiers with 30 years of expensive substitute natural gas,” said Mike Roeder, Vectren's vice president of government affairs and communications.
And at least one Indiana lawmaker has figured out that the plant won't even be using Indiana coal as was promised when the original deal was inked.

Rep. Win Moses, D-South Bend, said he initially supported the idea because it would convert Indiana coal to a cleaner fuel and because it seemed like it would save Hoosiers money.
Now, he said, the plant will not be required to use Indiana coal and the savings are unclear.
“I really hoped the governor would pull the plug,” Moses said.
And the political crony of Gov. Daniels behind the deal still claims it's "a great deal for Hoosiers."

Mark Lubbers, who is spearheading the Indiana Gasification project for parent company Leucadia National Corp., has said the project will be a great deal for Hoosiers. SNG produced at the Rockport plant will cost about $6.60 per dekatherm, which he said will be cheaper than natural gas over the 30 year period.

Fox 59 News Explores Instant Citizenship--A New Class Of Natural Born Citizens

Fox 59 News' Angela Ganote has a fascinating story, "Instant Citizenship," about an unusually large number of pregnant women visiting from the Middle East showing up at Central Indiana hospitals to give birth to their children here, taking advantage of our country's 14th Amendment citizenship birth. The debate over anchor babies is nothing new, but it has primarily focused on alien women crossing the U.S.'s southern border illegally in order to give birth to their children inside the U.S. so their children will become automatic citizens. Ganote's report is based on concerned doctors and health workers who see pregnant women traveling legally from the Middle East on tourist or student visas and presenting themselves without insurance ready to deliver their babies. 
Expectant mothers from all over the world, are coming to U.S. cities to have their babies, but Fox59 was surprised to hear concerns about it happening in Central Indiana. Two local hospital workers, inside two different major health networks, came forward, saying they're also seeing cases of instant citizenship.
Fox59 wanted to know how often it's happening and why the hospital workers who contacted us were so concerned. We found websites are all over the internet promoting maternity tourism. Expecting moms, promised posh stays in luxury hotels, spend tens of thousands of dollars, in cash, to give birth in America. The reason? Our country's 14th Amendment, which says all persons born in the United States are automatically citizens. "The first family I saw you think, 'oh it was an accident, they didn't think about it' and then you see a second and a third and a fourth. Then I started wondering, this is a pattern now," said one Central Indiana doctor.
The doctor, who wished to remain anonymous, said what many Indiana hospitals are seeing is different than the national, birth tourism stories. The maternity tourism industry, for the most part, has focused on Asian and Latin American mothers. Here in Indiana, the doctor said it's mainly Middle Eastern women, who are not U.S. citizens, coming in, ready to deliver.  
"It dawned on me at one point that these are American citizens now," said the doctor. "I had a colleague at the time that is from the Middle East, and she grew up there, and her comment to me was that a lot of these folks hate us and now they have a child that is an American citizen."
Area hospitals contacted by Fox 59 News were having no part of the story:
IU Health released a statement, which reads, in part: "We are not familiar with the circumstances described." St. Vincent Health issued their own comment: "We haven't seen any families traveling from the Middle East."
One of the confidential sources for Fox 59 News' report is a hospital worker of Middle Eastern origin, who offered this perspective on what is taking place:
She is from the Middle East herself and works directly with families of newborns and expectant moms.
"I see that quite often," said the worker, who also wishes to remain anonymous.
She said many women show up in the emergency room ready to deliver, telling staff they have no insurance and no means to pay. In other cases, these women are staying in Indiana longer than just a few weeks, here on education visas.
We asked the worker if she has ever had a conversation with the women about why they are here.
"The most popular answer I get is because they get social security benefits that Americans have, and they want to come back for education," the worker said.
As the report notes, hospitals legally cannot turn women ready to deliver their babies away at the door. If they don't have insurance or money to pay for the services, you and I wind up picking up the tab through higher insurance premiums and the government-sponsored Medicaid program and other publicly-funded health benefit programs.

This issue is already bubbling up in the terrorist cases. In 2001, Yaser Hamdi was captured by U.S. troops fighting American soldiers in Afghanistan and tried as an enemy combatant. Hamdi was actually born in Louisiana in 1980, but his parents, who were not U.S. citizens, returned with him to Saudi Arabia when he was still an infant. Hamdi's father argued in a case that made its way to the Supreme Court, Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, that his son's 5th and 14th Amendment rights as a U.S. citizen had been violated because of his detention and trial before a military tribunal instead of a civil court. The trial court dismissed Hamdi's habeas corpus petition, but the Supreme Court reversed, holding that Hamdi had a right as a U.S. citizen to contest his detention as an enemy combatant before a neutral decisionmaker. It's interesting that the Hamdi main opinion authored by Justice O'Connor refers to him as a U.S. citizen, while Justice Scalia's dissenting opinion refers to him as "a presumed American citizen." Justice Scalia seemed to be hinting that he is open to debating the question of whether children born of aliens within the U.S. are citizens automatically by virtue of 14th Amendment.

This issue also dovetails with the "natural born citizen" debate that has surfaced since Obama's election as president. Prior to the 2008 election, it had been presumed only children born in the country to U.S. citizen parents were considered natural born citizens. Mitt Romney's father, George, got hounded out of the 1968 presidential election because he was born to two U.S. citizen parents in Mexico and, therefore, was not a natural born citizen. He left the race rather than fight lawsuits threatened against his candidacy. Yet we've seen federal court after federal court refuse to even address the issue in Obama's case, and the Indiana Court of Appeals hold in Ankeny v. Daniels that the 14th Amendment changed the meaning of natural born citizen to include any person born within the U.S. and subject to the jurisdiction thereof despite a totally contrary view expressed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Minor v. Happersett. Obama, of course, is a dual citizen at birth. His father could have taken him to Kenya, where he was deemed a British citizen at birth because of his father's Kenyan citizenship. If the Supreme Court fails to address this issue, it will mean that even children born here of two foreign parents who return with their children to their native countries, can later return to the U.S. as adults and be eligible to serve as president of the United States. Somehow I don't think that's what John Jay had in mind when he wrote to George Washington asking for the natural born citizen requirement for presidents in the U.S. Constitution.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fair Finance Trustee Sues Daniels Campaign Committee To Recover Durham Contributions

The bankruptcy trustee for Fair Finance today filed a lawsuit against Gov. Mitch Daniels' campaign committee seeking to recover $90,000 of the more than $200,000 in contributions he received from indicted Ponzi schemer Tim Durham. Daniels has in the past defended not returning the contributions he received from Durham by saying all of the campaign funds he raised for his two gubernatorial campaigns have been spent. The bankruptcy trustee is seeking to recover only contributions made by Durham to Daniels since 2006. This lawsuit could be laying the groundwork to go after money Daniels' campaign committee transferred to other candidate or party committees. Daniels' committee previously returned about $3,000 to the trustee. Given Daniels' wealth, I don't know why I just doesn't cough up the money himself and end this legal fight instead of forcing the trustee to rack up unnecessary attorney's fees.

Star To Begin Charging For Online Content

Apparently Gannett thinks people will pay for online content for its newspapers that long-time subscribers have opted against paying. WRTV reports that the Indianapolis Star and other Gannett newspapers will begin charging for access to online content by the end of this year.

The Indianapolis Star and other community newspapers owned by Gannett will begin charging for online content by the end of the year.
Gannett told investors Wednesday that it will limit access to its content for those who don't subscribe and that it expects the move to paid content will generate an additional $100 million in earnings beginning in 2013.
The company plans to charge for all of its digital content. USA Today, Gannett's nationally distributed newspaper, is not part of the pay-to-view plan.
The WRTV story says Star reporters began tweeting about the change soon after the new policy was announced, including this tweet by Bob Kravitz:

"My guess is there will be initial reticence about paying for online content, but over time, readers will see what they're missing," tweeted sports columnist Bob Kravitz.
Don't hold your breath counting on that to happen, Bob. We're talking about the Star, not the NY Times.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kudos To Steve Talley

Indianapolis City-County Councilor Steve Talley is not a wealthy man, but he made a very large contribution to the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation by donating his entire four-year salary ($52,000) to benefit a children's reading program in honor of his late wife, Donna.

City-County Councilor Steve Talley will donate his council salary over the next four years to launch an endowment benefitting children’s programming through the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation.
Talley made the announcement Tuesday morning at Turning Point Schools on North Post Road on the city’s far-east side.
The endowment, called the Donna D. Talley Story Theatre Fund, will honor Talley’s late wife, Donna, who believed in the importance of reading. She died in 2006.
The fund will be managed by the Central Indiana Community Foundation and will be supported by an initial gift of $25,000 from Tim and Tanya Harris, founders of Turning Point Schools.
Talley has pledged to donate to the fund his council salary during the next four years, which will total about $52,000, in addition to a full contribution from his future council retirement plan, according to a news release.
“It is a tremendous comfort to know that Donna’s legacy will always live, benefitting future generations of leaders,” Talley said in the prepared statement. “I believe public libraries will always play an important role in the future of young people, and that is why it is so important to support the library through gifts to the library foundation.”
The IBJ notes that Talley and his family had already helped raise nearly $12,000 for a story theater at the East 38th Street library branch as a memorial to his late wife.

It's The Carmel Way

For a school that sees itself as the elite of public schools in this state, there sure are a lot of perverse acts taking place in the boy's locker room at Carmel High School. The latest "horseplay" that won't result in criminal charges involves two boys giving a golden shower to another boy in the showers.

Carmel Police say no charges will be filed against two high school students accused of urinating on another student in the shower because the victim’s parents do not want to pursue charges.
Police confirmed the incident to 24-Hour News 8 Tuesday saying there is no police report stemming from the incident.
When asked for comment, Carmel – Clay Community Schools Corp. officials said they would release some information later Tuesday afternoon.
There is no official word yet whether the students involved in the incident will face disciplinary action or if they are still enrolled at the high school.
Why would anyone expect this to result in criminal charges given the initial indifference the school and police have shown in the past to boys being depantsed and sexually violated in the locker room and on school buses?

Lugar Throws Mud At Mourdock While Complaining That Mourdock Is Throwing Mud At Him

Sen. Richard Lugar is upset that his Republican primary challenger, State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, is making such a big deal about the fact that he hasn't lived in Indiana for 35 years by his own admission. Lugar responded with a 30-second spot falsely accusing Mourdock of shirking his official responsibilities. The transcript of the spot reads:

Announcer: Dick Lugar -- called one of Indiana's most respected ... (Splat!) Whoa! Is that MUD? (Splat!) Really?
Richard Mourdock and his D.C. cronies are attacking  Senator Lugar again? (Splat!) Throwing more mud? (Splat!) More negative ads? (Splat!) More juvenile cartoons ? (Splat!)
Richard Mourdock is even going so far as to call Senator Lugar a "disgrace" and claiming he's not a Hoosier?! (Splat! Splat! Splat!)
Typical, desperate 11- time candidate, Richard Mourdock is obviously throwing mud to hide his own disastrous record....
Like Mourdock failing to show up for his taxpayer-funded job 66 percent of the time... including missing every single Police Pension Fund meeting for two years... and Mourdock proposing a budget so irresponsible one financial expert called it "ridiculous" and "too goofy for words."
Serious times demand serious leaders.
That's Senator Lugar.
The claim that Mourdock failed to show up for his job 66% of the time is patently false. As State Treasurer, Mourdock serves on a number of state boards. Mourdock can either attend the meetings himself or send a designee from his office to act as his proxy. The claim that he only attended 66% of those meetings is based on his absence, not his designee. If you count all the meetings that either he or a member of his staff attended, the attendance rate was 99%. The report using the 66% attendance figure was authored by Brian Howey, who is an unabashed supporter of Lugar's re-election campaign. Howey persisted in citing the inaccurate figure even after he was taken to task by Mourdock.

The claim that Mourdock missed every Police Pension Fund meeting for two years is equally misleading and also originated from Howey. As Mourdock's campaign points out, he is not a voting member of this board; rather, he serves as the Trustee of thee State Police Pension Trust and his duties are to oversee the investment of the Trust. Mourdock says the Trust realized a 19% return last year on its investments and was nominated for a national award by Money Management Intelligence. "The meetings the Lugar campaign refers to are for the purpose of determining individual disability payments and other human resources decisions involving Indiana State Troopers," the Mourdock campaign explains. "These decisions are made by a board of senior officials of the State Police Department and Treasurer Mourdock does not have a vote."

Richard Mourdock's proposal that is described as "ridiculous" and "too goofy for words" is based on a federal budget proposal that eliminates four cabinet departments and cuts spending by $7.6 trillion over 10 years in order to balance the budget. The critical quote credited to an "expert" actually originated from John Ketzenberger, a former journalist who has no formal training in fiscal affairs but plays one on TV. Lugar's criticism of a plan that gets serious about balancing the budget pretty much tells us he has no intention of taking up fiscal responsibility if he wins another six-year term.

Lugar's criticism of Mourdock being an 11-time candidate doesn't quite hit the mark either. Lugar is a 12-time candidate, including his first unsuccessful run for the Senate against Birch Bayh in 1974 and his unsuccessful bid for president in 1996. The D.C. crony reference is even more perplexing. The D.C. insiders are all backing Lugar, not Mourdock.

Meanwhile, Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker held a news conference in front of Market Tower today to ask reporters why Lugar is using his official Senate offices as the registered business address for Lugar Stock Farm, Inc., the business that owns the family farm. As you read first here, certified fraud examiner Greg Wright has filed a complaint with the Select Committee on Ethics asking it to investigate the finding of his research.

Lugar Residency Problem Will Be Donnelly's Number One Issue

Forget what Ann "Tokyo Rose" DeLaney says on "Indiana Week In Review" about Lugar's residency being a non issue, the Democratic Party and its nominee, U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, plan to make the fact that he hasn't lived in Indiana in 35 years the number one issue in this campaign. After all, what better isssue could you have to run against someone who was first elected to the Senate when Paul Simon's "Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover" was topping the pop charts and "All In The Family" was the most watched TV show? The Star's Mary Beth Schneider found Donnelly campaigning at the Workingman's Friend bar on Indianapolis' west side as Lugar was at a downtown hotel at which he stays during his visits to the state defending his residency before a battery of reporters.

U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly sat at a table at the Workingman's Friend tavern in Indianapolis on Monday, chatting with voters as part of a statewide tour launching his campaign for the Senate.
He talked about his commitment to creating jobs, helping veterans and protecting Social Security. And he made sure they knew that he thinks "the answers are not out in Washington, they're here at home."
"That," Donnelly said, "is why I try to come home almost every weekend."
Stressing that his home is in South Bend, not in Washington, might not seem like much of a campaign theme.
But this might not be an ordinary campaign. Donnelly, a Democrat, will run against the winner of the Republican primary, a race in which Sen. Richard Lugar is being pounded by state Treasurer Richard Mourdock over questions of residency . . .  
But as he travels the state, Donnelly said, voters do bring up the issue of Lugar's address.
"They don't understand it," he said. "This is not to be disrespectful to the senator, but they don't understand how he didn't have a residence here for such a long time."

Voters will decide whether that's an important enough question to influence their vote, he said.

"But here's what I know: I come home almost every weekend. My ability to do my job comes from sitting in restaurants in Rochester and going to fish fries in LaPorte and visiting schools in my district and meeting with folks back home. There's a lot more wisdom in Indiana, from Evansville to Steuben County, than there is in Washington, D.C.," Donnelly said.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Brizzi Talks About The Charlie White Trial

Former Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi sat down for an interview with Current In Carmel to discuss the conviction of his client, Charlie White, on six felony counts. On the issue of appealing the convictions, Brizzi leaves no room for doubt that White will appeal the convictions.

We’re definitely going to appeal. We think there were very appealable issues in this trial, so I don’t think it’s speculation to be saying he’s pursuing an appeal.” . . .
What people have to bear in mind is, he was literally charged with four different felonies for casting one vote. I’m not really sure if that’s been reported. I mean … four felonies for one vote seems a bit extreme.”

Asked if he was second-guessing his decision not to put on a defense, Brizzi responded:

“What do you want me to do? You can’t go back and second-guess any of the decisions made during the trial. No one except for me, Charlie and the people closest to him know what that evidence is and the potential for it to not be favorable. I lived this case for months and months and months and months, and we made the decisions we made. We’re never going to be able to explain to anyone with any satisfaction why those decisions were made.”
 Asked if he expected White to be sentenced to jail time for his convictions, which carry a maximum sentence of 18 years (for voting in one election at his ex-wife's home):

“Can he potentially face jail time? Yes, absolutely. Do I expect it? I don’t expect or not expect anything at this point. I certainly don’t take anything for granted.”
He's right about that. Hamilton County is one strange and foreign land when it comes to the criminal justice system. We've seen law enforcement ignore overwhelming evidence that a serial killer was living in the community. We've seen male on male sexual assaults in the schools being dismissed as boys engaged in horse play. We've seen parents mistakenly accused of murdering their babies. We've seen a man put away for attempting to murder a state legislator when the police knew damn good and well that's not what took place, notwithstanding the teary-eyed tale told by the legislator. And we've seen adults serve intoxicating alcohol to minors resulting in death without consequences. You're taking big chances when you get caught on the wrong side in Hamilton County.

Wright Files Ethics Complaint Against Lugar For Using Office For Personal Use

Certified fraud examiner Greg Wright has filed an ethics complaint with Sen. Barbara Boxer, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, asking the Committee to investigate whether Sen. Richard Lugar violated Senate ethics rules by using his official Senate office in Market Tower as the registered business address from the company that owns the family's farm in Marion County. According to records uncovered by Wright that were filed by Lugar with the Indiana Secretary of State's office, Lugar Stock Farm, Inc. has designated Richard Lugar, the company's president, as its registered agent with a registered business address that is the same as his official Indianapolis Senate office in Market Tower. Federal law prohibits Senators from using their offices or staff for purposes "other than assisting Senators in their official legislative and representational duties, and not for the purpose of performing personal or non-official activities for themselves or on behalf of others." The letter Wright sent to Sen. Boxer reads:

February 19, 2012

Chairman Barbara Boxer                                       Sent Via Fax:  (202) 224-7416
Senate Select Committee on Ethics
220 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Regarding: Senator Lugar’s Use of his Official Office for Personal Use

Dear Honorable Barbara Boxer,

Leaders representing fifty-five Indiana Tea Party organizations have asked me to request that you investigate this important matter.  Some individual members may contact you.

As Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, we request that you investigate Senator Richard Lugar’s use of his official Indianapolis office for personal use.

Whereas, Senator Lugar’s taxpayer paid Indianapolis office is located at Suite 1180, 10 West Market Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204.   Please see:

Whereas, Indiana Secretary of State Certified Documents state that Richard D. Lugar is the President of Lugar Stock Farm Inc. and is its current Registered Agent. See attached copy.

Whereas, Indiana Secretary of State Certified Documents state that the address of the Registered Agent of Lugar Stock Farm Inc. is: Richard G. Lugar, 10 West Market Street, Suite 1180, Indianapolis, IN 46204.  See attached copy.

Therefore, I respectfully petition the Senate Select Committee on Ethics to promptly conduct an investigation into the aforementioned allegation and refer any violations to the appropriate body. 

W. Gregory Wright
Certified Fraud Examiner

The Indiana Elections Commission will hear a complaint filed by citizen activists this Friday that seeks to disqualify Sen. Lugar from seeking re-election to an unprecedented seventh term. The complaint argues that Lugar is no longer an "inhabitant" of the state of Indiana, a constitutional requirement imposed on all Senators as an eligibility requirement. Lugar admits that he sold his only home in Indiana in 1977 shortly after he was first elected to the Senate and stays in hotels when he visits the state. Lugar and his wife have been registered and cast votes from a home at which they haven't resided in 35 years. He cites an Indiana Attorney General's opinion that says this arrangement is perfectly legal because the Indiana Constitution provides that persons temporarily absent from the state while in service to the government shall not be deemed to lose their residency within the state. The problem with that opinion is that it relies on a state law; only the U.S. Constitution can establish the qualifications to be a Senator, and it says Lugar must be an inhabitant when he is elected.

Lugar faced questioning by a battery of reporters during a speaking appearance in Indianapolis today. IndyPolitics has the audio of his comments here. When asked where he stayed last night, he said he stayed at the hotel where the conference was taking place. When asked why he didn't use the home situated on the family's farm as his residence, he said it was rented to someone else and that it wouldn't be appropriate to claim it as his residence. When asked what address he used to obtain an Indiana driver's license, he admitted that he used the address of the home on 3200 Highwoods that he and his wife sold 35 years ago. One reporter asked him if that was a violation of the Patriot Act. Lugar responded that he didn't know. Lugar sought to bolster his ties to the Hoosier state by saying that he managed the family's farm, although he conceded that a management company handles arrangements with the farm's tenant. He said he frequently visits the farm to survey its condition and tend to matters like pruning walnut trees that he and his son planted more than 20 years ago. The reporters, who have proven pretty slow on these matters, didn't ask Lugar why he uses his official Senate office as the registered business address for the family farm's corporation.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

AP Reporter Misinforms Readers About Residency Issues

It is simply unbelievable the lack of integrity held by so many mainstream news media reporters in their coverage of political and legal issues in this country today. The deliberate misrepresentation of issues and laws to suit one's ends has become acceptable journalism. The AP's Charles Wilson's story on the issue Charlie White has made about other prominent politicians' abuse of the voter registration laws is the latest example of a journalist's personal agenda getting in the way of fair and balanced reporting of the issue at hand. White has pointed out issues regarding the residencies of Sen. Richard Lugar, Gov. Evan Bayh and former U.S. Senator Evan Bayh to illustrate the fact that each of these men could not hold up to scrutiny if the laws were applied as strictly to them as they were to him. The situations of Lugar and Bayh are totally distinct, but you wouldn't know that reading Wilson's elementary-level discussion of the issues.
The crux of White's argument regarding Bayh and Lugar is that they live in the Washington, D.C., metro area but vote in Indiana. Lugar doesn't own a home in Indiana — he sold his Marion County home in 1977. His residency has prompted Hoosiers for Conservative Senate, which is backing Lugar challenger Richard Mourdock, to ask the Indiana Election Commission to rule Lugar's candidacy invalid.
White maintains that is essentially the same thing he was convicted of doing.
But the Indiana Constitution provides that "no person shall be deemed to have lost his residence in the state by reason of his absence either on business of this state or of the United States."
In 1982, then-Indiana Attorney General Linley Pearson cited that law in a legal opinion upholding Lugar's state residency despite the sale of his home.
"If such a person was entitled to vote in this state prior to departing for service in Congress, whatever residence that person possessed for voting purposes prior to such departure remains his or her residence," Pearson wrote. "There is no requirement that a person maintain a house, apartment, or any fixed physical location."
Attorney General Greg Zoeller issued a statement last week saying that his office concurred with the 1982 opinion.
William Kubik, a professor of political science at Hanover College, said White's argument that senators who vote in their home state while serving in Washington commit voter fraud is "completely specious."
"White's argument would mean that active duty military personnel would be ineligible for absentee ballots in Indiana," Kubik said.
The Marion County prosecutor in October turned down White's request for an independent investigation of his vote fraud allegations against Bayh, saying White provided no evidence showing that Bayh and his wife have given up their Indianapolis residence despite continuing to live in Washington since Bayh's Senate term ended last year.
Notice that Wilson, like other reporters, relies on the opinions of political science professors who are neither lawyers nor apparently persons knowledgeable of the U.S. Constitution, which alone sets the eligibility requirements for serving in the Senate. It doesn't matter what the Indiana Constitution says; a senator must be an inhabitant when he is elected. Sen. Lugar has continuously presented himself to the voters of this state since his first election in 1976 as an inhabitant of the state despite the fact that he gave up a residence here in 1977 when he sold his home. Lugar admits he stays in hotels during the few days he spends in the state each year. To call White's argument that Lugar is no longer an inhabitant of the state as "completely specious," is a non-sequitur.

It is also not a given that Lugar is even permitted to cast votes from an address at which he no longer has an interest as his registered voting address because of the state constitutional provision referred to in Wilson's story. That law is intended to prevent people in service to the federal government from losing their claim to residency within the state because they primarily reside elsewhere as a result of their official duties. Because senators and representatives must be inhabitants of their states, they still must maintain some form of residence within their states, even if it is not their primary residence. Lugar is the only member of Indiana's congressional delegation who does not have a home or apartment to rely upon in the state to claim he is an inhabitant and to use as a physical address for voting purposes. As I've noted before, the U.S. Constitution does not even require senators and representatives to be registered voters of their states. Nonetheless, if they choose to register to vote in their states, they need to meet the lenient standard defined in numerous court decisions for meeting residency requirements for voting registration requirements. I predict our state's Supreme Court will reiterate the long-established law on residency when it reverses Marion Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg's decision late last year ordering White removed from office.

Bayh's case is totally different from Lugar's case. Bayh no longer is in service to the state of Indiana since he left the Senate in January, 2011 so he cannot avail himself of the state's constitutional provision allowing him to reside primarily in Washington but registering and casting votes from a condominium in Indiana at which he never resides. Just ask the neighbors in the condominium community where he claims a homestead exemption if you doubt me. They have no idea Bayh is their neighbor because he doesn't stay there when he visits Indiana. Like Lugar, he stays in hotels when he visits the state. Marion Co. Prosecutor Terry Curry didn't even bother to investigate the charges White made that Bayh and his wife were committing vote fraud by voting from that address; he simply dismissed them out of hand without conducting any inquiry.

The facts are somewhat different for Gov. Daniels. Under the Indiana Constitution, the state's governor is required to reside at the state's capitol in Indianapolis. Daniels admits he primarily resides at his home in Carmel, but as White points out, he is claiming the governor's residence as his voting address and casting votes from there.

Daniels spokeswoman Jane Jankowski said the governor's office was confident that he was following the law. She told The Associated Press that Daniels "stays at the residence occasionally and conducts meetings and other events there."
White's point is that he was ordered removed from office and convicted of vote fraud for using his ex-wife's home as his voting address for a few month period while he was in between marriages and permanent homes. The evidence before the Recount Commission showed White stayed at his ex-wife's home several nights a week where his son over whom he exercised parenting time resided, received mail there and used it as his address for obtaining a driver's license. White's ties to his ex-wife's home were arguably greater than Daniels' claim to reside at the governor's residence. Yet one has been forced from office and convicted of felonies, while the other remains in office and the public reassured is abiding by state laws.

I realize it's quite inconvenient for mainstream media reporters to get into the meat of these issues involving Bayh, Lugar and Daniels. It doesn't fit their meme that White did something horribly wrong that is so much different than what other prominent politicians have done forever and are still doing. They dislike White and have no qualms about couching their stories in terms that always make him out to be a bad person, while claiming their favored politicians are being unfairly criticized when the tables are turned on them. White is the real victim here. The public, too, is a victim because it has been repeatedly denied accurate information and dispassionate judgment by those reporting on these issues.