Monday, August 31, 2015

Star Finally Makes An Issue Of Privately-Funded Junkets Because Its Pence

Governor Mitch Daniels relied on private donors to pay for all of its his overseas trade missions. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard has used private donors to pay for all of his overseas junkets billed as trade missions. Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from private donors to pay for dozens of overseas trips. It's a highly unethical practice which should be illegal, but the Indianapolis Star hasn't made an issue of the unseemly practice until now--when Gov. Mike Pence followed the same practice as his predecessor of relying on private donations to fund his economic development missions.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation raises money from businesses seeking to curry favor with the state's governor to pay for trips overseas and across the country. The Star's Tony Cook and Chelsea Schneider obtained a list of those donors and reveal them in a news story titled, "Who's Paying Pence's Travel Tab," after they say they made repeated public records requests of the administration for that information before obtaining it. More than 50 donors contributed $2.19 million to the IEDC's foundation to finance the trips during the most recent 18-month period and the vast majority of that money came from public utility companies. Advance Indiana previously observed that only utility company executives were recently included on a 2-day junket Pence took to New York City where the governor entertained dozens at a suite rented for a New York Yankees game.
Donors have paid for Gov. Mike Pence to travel overseas, rent luxury sports suites, lobby lawmakers and fly to Iowa ahead of its first-in-the-nation presidential nominating contest.
But those donors and the amounts they’ve given have been a closely guarded secret — until now.
For the first time, the Pence administration has released a list of donors and the amounts they’ve contributed to the Indiana Economic Development Foundation, a nonprofit subsidiary of the state’s economic development agency. The disclosure comes in response to repeated public record requests from The Indianapolis Star.
The list reveals that more than 50 companies, trade groups and governmental entities contributed $2.19 million to the foundation from January 2014 to June 2015.
The majority of that money — about $1.7 million — came from utility companies. Duke Energy and its foundation gave the most — more than $456,000. Other contributors included lobbying firms, industry groups, regional economic development agencies, universities and large Indianapolis companies such as Eli Lilly and Co. and Dow Agro Sciences.
Pence has tapped the money for six international trade missions to China, Israel, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and Canada, where, for example, he hosted about 30 business executives and government officials at a hospitality suite during the Toronto Maple Leafs’ season opener . . . 
The Pence administration defends the use of private donors to pay for the trips as a way of saving taxpayers money while bringing new jobs and investments to Indiana. Critics note the obvious--the businesses paying for the trips gain an unfair advantage in obtaining access and the ability to influence the official actions of Gov. Pence and the IEDC, which doles out tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer-paid subsidies and incentives to lure businesses to invest in Indiana.

While Advance Indiana welcomes The Star's scrutiny of this practice, we wonder why they weren't bothered when Gov. Daniels or Mayor Ballard did the same thing. Ballard, in particular, has little to show for his nearly ten overseas junkets. Advance Indiana believes Ballard brokered that horribly one-sided and illegal deal with French billionaire Vincent Bollore's company for Blue Indy during one of those trips that took him to Paris. Who paid for that trip? Does The Star have any plans to get answers to those questions for us? It might explain why Ballard has broken so many laws that have cost Indianapolis taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars during his two terms in office to reward his political cronies.

Here's a full list of the donors during the period analyzed:

Indiana Michigan Power $424,000
Duke Energy $381,654
Vectren $267,150
Northern Indiana Public Service Company $260,000 
Indianapolis Power & Light $157,500
Duke Energy Foundation $75,000
ISDA $50,000
NIPSCO $50,000
Purdue Research Foundation $50,000
Hoosier Energy $37,500
Indiana Municipal Power Agency $28,883
Ginovus $24,000
Primesport Inc. $19,950
Indy Partnership $19,250
Circle City Tickets $18,900
IMPA $18,000
Indy Chamber $16,230
Dow AgroSciences $15,000
Eli Lilly $15,000
Indiana Corn Marketing Council $15,000
Indiana Soybean Alliance $15,000
Michiana Partnership, Inc. $12,500
Bose McKinney & Evans LLP $12,150
Krieg Devault LLP. $12,000
Accelerate West Central Indiana $11,000
American Electric Power $10,000
CountryMark Refining and Logistics LLC $10,000
EDC of South West Indiana $10,000
EDC of Wayne County $10,000
Farm Bureau Foundation $10,000
Farm Credit Mid-America $10,000 
University of Notre Dame $10,000
Northeast Indiana regional Partnership. $10,000 
South Central IN USA Econ. Dev. Group $8,000
Town of Fishers $8,000
J. Albert Smith, Jr. (Chase Bank) $7,500
South Central IN Economic Development Reg $7,500
Ivy Tech Community College $6,713
Old National Bank $5,843.73
Indiana Beef International LLC $5,650 Radius Indiana, Inc. $5,500
Aerodyn Engineering Inc. $5,250
CGB Enterprises, Inc. $5,000
Cole Hardwood $5,000
DuPont $5,000
Farbest Foods, Inc. $5,000
Gutwein Popcorn Company, LLC $5,000
Ice Miller $5,000
Indiana Pork Producers $5,000
Pokagon Band of Potawatami Indians $5,000
S&C Resale Company $5,000
Total donations: $2.19 million


Anonymous said...

The Star isn't a newspaper; it's a shakedown racket. They use the paper as muscle for getting their way and getting paid off. If the Star comes to you and wants something, and if you don't give it to them, they'll go after you in their rag.

The Star is bullying, not journalism.

Anonymous said...

I think Mike Pence deserves most of the criticism he gets. The problem I have is Lugar, Daniels and Ballard deserve at least as much probably more than Pence does! I don't pity Pence if he has been stupid enough to keep so many Daniels holdovers than he can deal with the consequences!

Flogger said...

Corruption in Marion County is the "third" rail for the Star. What a pathetic paper. They are so transparent. It's obvious the Star does not like Pence for one reason or another, so find something to sink their hooks into.

The Star is really not a newspaper as we were taught in English, Social Studies, or Journalism classes. It is advocacy paper for Crony-Capitalism. It is an advocacy paper for those in favor with the Shadow Government, and as such their sole function is to be court stenographers, masquerading as journalism.

Anonymous said...

The Star is redefining "news" as "what we want you to think."

Just as the original idea of a policeman has been long forgotten, in a few years, Americans may have entirely forgotten what "the press" noted in the First Amendment is supposed to be.

Americans are developing a vocabulary of words that no longer mean what they used to mean.

When the Star sends a reporter, the reporter should be given the exact same status as someone gives a lobbyist or lawyer. They're after something that they want from you.

News ain't their business.

leon dixon said...

Just IN is looking a whole lot better.....the corrupt Star could have no reasonable complaint now....

Anonymous said...

Gary, do you think this is the first phase of the local media's lgbt rights agenda... start the chess match by flexing muscle and bullying Pence?