Governor Mike Pence today announced he will lead a delegation of Hoosier business leaders and elected officials on his first gubernatorial overseas jobs and economic development mission to Japan.
The governor will depart Indiana on Sept. 5 and return on Sept. 14. During the trip, he will travel to Tokyo, Nagoya and Tochigi Prefecture, Indiana’s Japanese sister-state. He will attend the Japan-U.S. Midwest Conference and will meet with government and business leaders and potential investors. Calls to executives from Honda, Toyota and Subaru as well as other companies with Indiana operations will also be part of the governor’s agenda while in Japan.
“From leading automotive manufacturers to their diverse array of suppliers, Japan’s top companies have found homes across all corners of the Hoosier State,” said Pence. “Our administration aims to continue to nurture and grow the strong bond between Indiana and Japan that dates back nearly 100 years and has led to more than 42,000 Hoosier jobs in recent years. I look forward to renewing our commitment to Japan, opening doors for new investment and jobs in Indiana and telling the story of Indiana as a state that works in America.”
Indiana counts Japan as its largest Asian trading partner. It is Indiana’s fifth-largest export country in the world, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Trade Database. Nearly 44,000 Hoosiers are employed by more than 200 Japanese companies located in the state. Indiana is the only U.S. state that is home to three Japanese original equipment manufacturer automotive companies, Subaru, Toyota and Honda.
The cost of the state delegation is being covered entirely through private donations to the Indiana Economic Development Foundation; no tax dollars will be used. (emphasis added) In addition to Governor Pence, the state will be represented by First Lady Karen Pence and Secretary of Commerce Victor Smith. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) has an office in Nagoya and representatives will assist with trip arrangements.So where are these private donations coming from to pay for Gov. Pence's trip? You can bet it's people who have an interest in influencing the decisions Gov. Pence makes as governor, whether those be policy decisions concerning economic development incentives, tax breaks or the awarding of state contracts.
We've previously complained about the multiple foreign trips taken by Mayor Greg Ballard, who will leave on his 9th overseas junket next month. His trips are paid for by Develop Indy, which receives the bulk of its funding from the City. Develop Indy insists that private donations are used to pay for those trips, but it has refused to release information about who is paying for the trips and how much they cost. City taxpayers pick up the tab for Mayor Ballard's personal security detail on all of those trips. Ballard is accompanied on these overseas junkets by business leaders who financially benefit from their relationship with his administration, leading some to wonder whether Develop Indy is simply laundering money from these people to make gifts to Ballard and his wife, who accompanies him on all of his overseas trips, to skirt public disclosure of the gifts he receives, which some estimate reaches into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's time the media began doing its job and demanding full public disclosure of these so-called privately-funded trips.