Sunday, March 01, 2015

Hamilton Co. GOP Leadership Epitomizes All That's Wrong With The Republican Party

The Indianapolis Star's Chris Sikich has a good story this weekend, "In Hamilton County, GOP party leaders accused of playing favorites," about the complaints real Republicans have with the self-dealers who run the Hamilton Co. Republican Party. One gets the impression reading the story the problems complained of in this story are isolated to Hamilton Co., but in actuality it's a mere microcosm of what the party has become statewide and nationally, and for that matter, what the Democratic Party has become from top to bottom.

The Hamilton Co. Republican Party's Chairman is Pete Emigh, who is an independent broker for One America. By no coincidence, Emigh manages retirement accounts for the city employees of Carmel, Nobelesville and Westfield, which have a combined value of $70 million. All three mayors, of course, say their decision to hire Emigh had nothing to do with his party leadership position. Since 2009, Emigh has run an independent political action committee known as Shamrock PAC, which isn't shy about picking favored candidates in Republican primary elections to support. The Hamilton Co. GOP's executive director, Andy Greider, often serves a dual role as campaign manager for Republican candidates involved in heated primary races.

Emigh, a Westfield native, was instrumental in the election of Westfield's current Mayor Andy Cook, who has been emulating Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard's crony capitalism model for growing his city in a fast and furious manner since his election. In Cook's narrow 62-vote win over Russell Cameron, Emigh's PAC kicked in about $44,500 to Cook's campaign according to Sikich's story. Cameron opposed Cook's crony capitalism that used taxpayer dollars to favor the private development activities of Cook's campaign contributors. Cameron raised raised more than $5,000 to challenge Cook in the close election.

In this year's election, Mayor Cook is opposed in the Republican primary by Jeff Harpe. Harpe tells Sikich that he thinks the Hamilton Co. GOP leadership is too connected to developers who benefit from the crony capitalism and plans to beat Cook through a grassroots campaign that attempts to connect to voters directly. Harpe has been particularly critical of Cook's plan to pay Holladay Properties $53 million over 25 years for an indoor soccer facility at Grand Park. He filed a lawsuit seeking to block the deal because city council members conducted meetings in secret that should have been publicly-noticed and heard before going to the full council for a vote.

Prior to last year's first municipal election as it transitioned from a town council to a city, the Hamilton Co. Treasurer Pete Peterson and Greider formed Royal Tiger PAC, which funded all but one of the winning candidates in the election. Fishers' new mayor, Scott Fadness, champions the use of tax increment financing as a form of economic development and turned to Greider to serve as his campaign manager. Greider also has been paid to work for Carmel's Mayor Brainard in primary elections. Brainard's primary opponent, Rick Sharp, thinks Greider should take a leave of absence from his work as the party's executive director if he's going to support candidates in primary elections.

Mayor Brainard defended Emigh's and Greider's involvement in primary elections. "The parties have an interest in making sure the primary nominees can win in the fall," Brainard said. "In this day of low-cost email and Internet communication, a small group can influence the primary and the parties need to make sure the voters are getting accurate information. "If a fringe candidate is nominated, the party can lose in the fall." In other words, unless you support crony capitalism, you are a fringe candidate. Brainard's suggestion that such a candidate would lose to a Democrat in the general election is laughable. Hamilton County is a one-party county where the primary election determines the outcome of an election.


Anonymous said...

There is a general "stink" all over this land, from coast to coast, party to party.

There are days one thinks, "I can make a difference", and that quickly ends when you realize just how filthy you would get rolling around in the pile of pig pooh with everyone else.

The fact that this is the way politics works is frightening.

Anonymous said...

80% of Hamilton County votes R,
regardless of whether the R is devil and the D is
an angel (assuming that there is anyone brave enough to run as a D). The county's population needs more diversity.

Anonymous said...

Where's the story on all of the Marion County Republican dollars being funneled to the bank accounts of Kyle Walker and his wife, Jennifer Hallowell?