Showing posts with label Eric Turner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eric Turner. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Outrage: State Taxpayers Donating $345,000 To Eric Turner's Terre Nursing Home Project That Will Net Him A $1.8 Million Profit

At some point the taxpayers of Indiana are going to have to rise up in revolt at the sight of our public tax dollars being pilfered by political insiders for their own self-enrichment. One of the worst offenders is State Rep. Eric Turner (R-Cicero), the Speaker Pro Tempore of the House who has blatantly exploited his state legislative position to amass tens of millions of dollars for him and his family. The AP's Tom LoBianco reports that our state's Economic Development Corporation is awarding $345,000 to a nursing home project that Turner's family is developing in Terre Haute from which he stands to personally make $1.8 million.

According to LoBianco, the money was what Gov. Pence originally decided to hand out to the state lawmaker's business, Mainstreet Properties, to move its headquarters from Cicero to Carmel. Yes, our fake conservative governor thinks public subsidies should be given to a politically-connected business to move its business offices from one side of Hamilton County to another location within the same county. After public outrage over that announcement, Pence put it on hold until IEDC officials said "a review" of the award showed that no conflict of interest rules were broken by the awarding of money to a business controlled by a guy who exercises control as a member of the House Ways & Means Committee over how much money gets appropriated in the state budget for IEDC. Do they actually expect us to believe that construction of a nursing home is legitimate economic development for the state? Please.

Now that the $345,000 state taxpayer gift to Turner's company is a go, it's being redirected to help pay for the development of a new nursing home Turner's company is building in Terre Haute. Through a high-paid spokesman at a big Indianapolis law firm that lobbies the state legislature, Turner assures the public that his stake in Mainstreet is only as a "passive investor," which is laughable given that everyone knows that he's the one who's been pulling the strings for the business all these years as he continues to build a massive fortune on the backs of Indiana taxpayers while passing himself off to the voting public as a "fiscal conservative" and "devout Christian." An assistant professor at Indiana University, Josh Perry, tells LoBianco that deals like this "erode the public trust" in government." Yeah, no sh__.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

House Ethics Committee Investigation Of Eric Turner Proving To Be A Useless Exercise

I can't say that I'm surprised by the bipartisan display of support from Republican and Democratic members alike today for State Rep. Eric Turner (R-Cicero) at today's initial meeting of the House Ethics Committee that is charged with investigating whether Turner broke any House rules by privately lobbying his colleagues to defeat legislation imposing a moratorium on the construction of new nursing homes in Indiana, a move that could have cost him and his family members tens of millions of dollars in potential profits from their expansive, planned investments in nursing home construction. Turner was not required to appear before the committee today to answer questions and so he didn't. He spoke prior to today's meeting in answers to written interrogatories he furnished to the committee through his high-paid Indianapolis lawyer who used to serve as the House's parliamentarian and a self-dealing member in his own right as a former member of the Indianapolis City-County Council.
"I thank Chairman Steuerwald and the House Ethics Committee for conducting a thorough review of the facts and I was pleased to answer the questions presented to me. I am confident the Ethics Committee will conclude that I have acted within the House Rules and the House Code of Ethics, as I have for my entire 24 year legislative career."
Sure, Turner has reason to be confident of his exoneration, and it's not just the dirty laundry he could expose on the most powerful member of the esteemed body if the leadership doesn't leave him alone. It's pretty much impossible to violate ethics rules written by corrupt, self-dealing lawmakers who want to ensure that lawmakers can continue getting rich from service in the legislature just like they have for decades in Indiana while pretending to be part-time public servants who are generously giving their services to Hoosiers for a small annual salary, if you exclude their generous per diem, health care and retirement perks, not to mention the thousands of dollars in entertainment spent on each of them and their family members annually on average by State House lobbyists. Oh, and don't forget all the lawmakers and their spouses who are given high-paying, no-work, no-show jobs and under-the-table consulting work following their election to the legislature by businesses and organizations with an interest in the people's business they transact as state lawmakers. They all complain about the sacrifices they make to serve in the General Assembly, but the standard of living for most lawmakers seems to improve substantially after they become lawmakers. Numerous lawmakers have enjoyed lucrative post-legislative careers as lobbyists working for the very people they had just performed specific public acts to benefit. As fellow blogger Doug Masson commented, "Good work if you can get it."

Here's something you can take to the bank. The most self-dealing lawmakers never, ever honestly fill out those financial disclosure statements they are required to file annually. I've discussed quite often how useless these statements are that are filed by members of the Indianapolis City-County Council. The House ethics rules, like the City-County Council's ethic rules, for economic interest disclosure are written very loosely by design to allow members room to drive an 18-wheeler through them. Members who choose not to comply with the loose requirements know that there is no punishment for non-compliance because their colleagues don't take ethics rules seriously and aren't about to open up scrutiny of their own actions by singling out any one member for punishment for non-compliance.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

AP: Turner Made $8 Million On Sale Of Nursing Homes The Past Two Years, Will Make $1 Million On Each New Nursing Home

The Associated Press' Tom LoBianco has obtained documents that show that State Rep. Eric Turner made a sweet $8 million the past two years on the sale of nursing homes through the 38% stake he owns in Mainstreet Property Group. LoBianco is also reporting that Turner stands to make at least $1 million on each new nursing home facility Mainstreet constructs in coming years. LoBianco earlier reported that Turner stood to lose millions if the legislation opposed by Mainstreet had become law this year. Mainstreet has plans to build more than two dozen homes in Indiana over the next several years.

Rep. Turner is facing a House Ethics Committee over allegations by his fellow Republican lawmakers that he lobbied behind closed doors to defeat legislation that would have imposed a temporary moratorium on the construction of new nursing homes in Indiana. Turner had previously told his colleagues he would refrain from voting on or participating in discussions on the legislation that his son, Zeke, the CEO of Mainstreet, and his daughter, Jessaca Stultz, were both lobbying lawmakers this past session to defeat. WTHR is reporting that the House Ethics Committee will meet for its first meeting to begin its investigation on April 23.

No Ethics Hearing Date Set For Turner Investigation

The Star's Tony Cook set out to learn when the first hearing date for the House Ethics Committee investigation of State Rep. Eric Turner (R-Cicero) and his use of his Speaker Pro Tem leadership position to lobby on behalf of his family's nursing home business interests and came up empty. Cook rhetorically asks, "What do earthquakes, stock market bubbles, and Rep. Eric Turner's ethics hearing all have in common?" "It's not easy to predict when any of them will happen." Despite the passage of more than a month since House Speaker Brian Bosma announced the ethics investigation, no initial hearing date has been scheduled. The committee's chairman, State Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon), told reporters that it would likely occur the second week of April, which never happened.

According to Cook, some lawmakers are speculating that House leadership is waiting until after the May primary election. Turner is opposed by Parvin Gillim, an architect and former Sheridan Chamber of Commerce president. Bosma and Steuerwald aren't responding to questions about a hearing date, and their spokesperson is only saying that it isn't being delayed because it has yet to be scheduled. It could be that the House Republican leadership has reached an agreement with Turner to resign his leadership position, and they don't want that news to negatively impact his primary race. Or, then again, an even bigger scandal may intervene that draws attention entirely away from this matter.

UPDATE: WTHR is reporting that Rep. Steuerwald has announced that the Ethics Committee will meet on April 23 at the State House to begin its work on investigating Turner's alleged ethical lapses.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

More On Turner Helping Turner: Accused By Former Business Partners Of Fraudulent Land Deal

The Star's Tony Cook has another blistering story about State Rep. Eric Turner's shady nursing home dealings. Cook uncovered a past land deal where Eric and his son, Zeke, were accused in a civil suit of defrauding other investors out of about $3 million after allegedly forging the investors' names on an operating agreement that allowed them to transfer land owned by a limited liability company, Main & Batesville, to a non-profit entity. It turns out the non-profit was controlled by Zeke's father-in-law, Charles Riggle. Emanuel Nursery & Day Care used its nonprofit status to obtain a $3 million state tax credit, including a $650,000 development fee which was shared with Turner's Mainstreet Capital Partners, to construct a 33-bed skilled nursing facility on the land. The other investors of Main & Batesville holding a 66% interest were cut entirely out of the deal that only benefitted Turner's Mainstreet Capital, which managed the company and held a 44% stake in it.

Two of the investors in Main & Batesville, John & Rebecca Bartle of Fishers, sued Mainstreet Capital in Ripley Superior Court in 2010 for $3 million. Cook learned that Turner had stopped disclosing his interest in Main & Batesville in 2006 on his legislative ethics statement the same year that he and Zeke first engineered their fraudulent land deal without the knowledge of the other investors; instead, he lists his ownership interest in T3 Investments Corporation without identifying the companies in which it owns an interest. The lawsuit against Mainstreet Capital was later dismissed after the case was settled during mediation. Although the terms of the settlement were confidential, the Bartles were allowed to acquire another nursing home owned by Mainstreet for $3.1 million minus the debt owed on that facility. Rep. Turner wouldn't answer the Star's questions about the deal, and his high-paid spokesman, Roger Harvey, gave the standard line about the case being dismissed several years pursuant to a confidential agreement.

Turner is facing a House Ethics Committee investigation after several of his fellow Republican lawmakers squealed to reporters about his successful backroom efforts to kill legislation that would have imposed a moratorium on the construction of new nursing homes in Indiana. Turner had publicly stated that he would not participate in any votes or discussions this past session regarding the legislation, which both his son and daughter were lobbying lawmakers to vote down. What really galls me is how Eric and Zeke run around telling everyone what devout Christians they are. It's been my experience in life that people who feel a need to wear their religion on their sleeve are the people you have to watch the most closely. They're the first to pick your pockets when you're looking the other way.

Friday, April 04, 2014

More On Turner Helping Turner

Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog has long ago figured out that State Rep. Eric Turner (R-Cicero) blatantly uses his position in the state legislature to enrich his family business interests in nursing homes. The Star finally gets around to reporting what has been reported here and elsewhere previously that Turner's nursing home interests are far more substantial than he wants the public to know about. Tony Cook's lengthy story begins:

When Rep. Eric Turner worked behind the scenes to kill legislation that would have halted new nursing home development, he wasn't just helping his son's company.
An Indianapolis Star review of the lawmaker's personal business interests found that Turner has a stake in at least a half dozen companies that have been engaged in building, leasing or investing in nursing home properties.
Together, those companies potentially had millions of dollars at risk in the debate over the measure that would have put a temporary moratorium on new nursing home construction.
Moreover, The Star found that Turner did not list some of the companies on financial disclosure statements, which lawmakers are required to file each year to make public any potential conflicts.
Turner has denied breaking any House ethics rules and says the moratorium would have caused Indiana to miss out on new jobs and investment.
The Star's findings come as an Indiana House Ethics Committee is set to probe Turner's role in quashing the moratorium. Proponents of the legislation believe a moratorium is necessary because of low occupancy rates and concerns about the quality of care for Medicaid patients.
Turner, the second-highest ranking member of the House, abstained from voting on the measure in public. But during closed-door Republican caucus meetings he passionately urged his fellow lawmakers to kill the moratorium, according to several Republican lawmakers who spoke to The Star on condition of anonymity.
Some Republicans felt Turner's role constituted a conflict of interest because his son, a developer of senior care facilities, and daughter, a Statehouse lobbyist, led the opposition to the moratorium.
The precise extent of Turner's financial interests in the nursing home industry is difficult to determine, but records indicate he has been involved in at least 15 different companies with ties to the industry since 1997.
Experts say such deep and longstanding connections could be an important factor as the ethics committee prepares to hear the case, perhaps as early as next week . . . 
I really don't expect anything to become of the House Ethics Committee investigation of Turner's direct involvement in nursing home legislation, something he's done just about every year that he's been in the state legislature. The ethics rules are written so weakly by design in order to protect members from any serious repercussions from engaging in what you and I would consider unethical conduct for the purpose of personal self-enrichment. And by the way, Turner's latest transgression wasn't as blatant as when he cut a deal with the Daniels administration and ACS to help steer the welfare privatization legislation through the legislature with the understanding that an old school building he and son, Zeke, purchased in Marion would be awarded a long-term lease for a call center to support the private operator's operations. That little sweetheart deal has made millions for the Turner family.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

House Speaker Announces Ethics Probe Of Eric Turner

I don't expect much to come of it, but House Speaker Brian Bosma moved to silence critics by opening an ethics probe to investigate news reports earlier this week which claimed that State Rep. Eric Turner (R-Cicero), who serves as Speaker Pro Tempore in the Republican caucus, had lobbied Republican members to kill legislation that would have placed a moratorium on the construction of new nursing homes in Indiana. Turner's family has a financial interest in Mainstreet Property Group, which had announced plans to build 24 skilled nursing home facilities throughout the state when the legislation was introduced this session at the behest of a trade group representing nursing home owners to place a moratorium on new construction. Turner had pledged to his fellow colleagues earlier in the session that he would recuse himself from participating in any vote or discussions regarding the legislation which members of his family, including his son and daughter, were lobbying to defeat. News reports cited several Republican lawmakers as claiming that Turner's lobbying efforts within the Republican caucus played a key role in the defeat of the legislation.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

More On Turner Helping Turner: GOP Lawmaker Lobbied For Defeat Of Nursing Home Moratorium Bill

State Rep. Eric Turner's immediate family members have a major financial stake in the success of Mainstreet Property Group, a real estate development firm that has raised a large amount of capital in Canada to fuel the construction of a slew of new nursing homes in Indiana. An industry group representing nursing homes across the state of Indiana, the Indiana Health Care Association, lobbied state lawmakers this year to place temporary moratorium on the construction of new nursing homes. Although Rep. Turner, a member of the House Republican leadership team, had publicly recused himself from participating in votes on SB 173 in committee and on the floor, the Associated Press' Tom LoBianco is now reporting that Turner lobbied colleagues aggressively behind the scenes to defeat the legislation late in the session after it comfortably passed both the House and Senate before dying in conference committee. Those Republican lawmakers credit Turner's lobbying efforts with defeating the bill:
A powerful House Republican secretly lobbied colleagues in the final hours of the 2014 session last week to kill a measure that would have been disastrous for his family's nursing home business.
Rep. Eric Turner lobbied to kill legislation that would have temporarily halted construction of new nursing homes and elderly care facilities, multiple Republicans with direct knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press. Turner's son has emerged as a statewide leader in building such facilities, capitalizing on a surge of retiring Baby Boomers.
The Republicans spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the private caucus meetings during which Turner argued his case . . .
Turner's private lobbying marked an about-face from his public actions during the session, during which he regularly excused himself from votes on the measure and stayed quiet through public hearings.
Last year, The Associated Press reported that Turner had pushed a measure to benefit a client of his daughter, who is a Statehouse lobbyist. In light of that, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said last year he'd review how the House handles conflicts of interests . . .
House ethics rules bar lawmakers from voting directly to benefit themselves, but Turner's efforts last year and this year did not appear to be a violation because they would have benefited his children instead.
Mainstreet Property Group LLC, a development company run by Zeke Turner and founded in part by his son Eric Turner, is in the process of developing five projects that the company believes will result in $162 million in economic impact throughout the state. A message left Monday with a Mainstreet Property spokeswoman seeking comment was not immediately returned.
The stakes are high in the nursing home game. Existing operators, some with older facilities, came to state lawmakers this year seeking to extend a construction moratorium enacted in 2009. They argued that flooding the market with new facilities would draw wealthier patients away and cause Medicaid recipients to be stuck in worsening conditions at the older homes.
Eric Turner's children, Zeke Turner and Jessaca Turner Stults, who's a lobbyist for Mainstreet, were on the other side of the debate with developers and trade unions, arguing that building new nursing homes meant creating thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars in economic development . . .
Zeke Turner and others launched a last-minute campaign at the end of the session, bringing in top-tier Republican and Democratic lobbyists to sway lawmakers. But it was his father's decision to swoop in last Wednesday as the session raced to a close that became deciding factor in defeating the nursing home measure, said another Republican with direct knowledge of Turner's efforts.
There are really no good guys in this debate, only losers--the taxpayers. The Indiana Health Care Association is now dominated by the nearly 60 nursing homes owned in name only by the Marion County Health & Hospital Corporation and operated by American Senior Communities in an effort to bilk extra dollars out of Medicaid. The corrupt Health & Hospital Corporation is using the extra dollars being bilked out of Medicaid to pay for its more than $700 million Eskenazi Hospital. By creating the illusion that a nursing home is owned by a county-owned hospital, Medicaid reimbursement rates 50% higher than that paid out to other nursing homes can be tapped for providing the exact same services. More than 60% of the nursing homes in Indiana are now affiliated with county hospitals in order to take advantage of this Medicaid bilking scheme. The battle that took place at the legislature this year only proves the old adage that there is no honor among thieves.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

House Republican Leadership Bypassed Turner For Ways & Means Committee Over Self-Dealing Concerns

The AP's Tom Lobianco is reporting that House Speaker Brian Bosma passed over State Rep. Eric Turner for the powerful budget-writing role as chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee because of concerns Republican members raised about his and his lobbyist daughter's lobbying activities. Lobianco, citing unnamed Republican legislators as sources, says fellow Republican lawmakers approached Speaker Bosma to express their concerns about Turner filling the post after Bosma began looking for a replacement to retiring State Rep. Jeff Espich last year.
A ranking Indiana House member under scrutiny for using his position to help his children was passed over to head the powerful House Ways and Means committee last year because fellow Republicans were concerned about his and his daughter's lobbying efforts, lawmakers told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
House Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner, R-Cicero, seemed poised to become the committee's chairman and to write the state's $30 billion budget, which lawmakers will approve in the coming days. His daughter, Jessaca Turner Stults, lobbies on behalf of, Insure-Rite, nursing home operators and other groups.
Republican lawmakers bypassed Turner for the chairmanship last year amid concerns over his potential conflicts of interest. House Speaker Brian Bosma instead handed the seat to Rep. Tim Brown, a consensus pick without any apparent conflicts of interest . . .
Asked if he was concerned about any conflict of interest arising from a Turner chairmanship, Bosma talked broadly about looking at many things when picking his leadership team.
"You weigh a lot of different factors when you're trying to pick any of the chairman," he said Wednesday.
But three lawmakers who spoke to The Associated Press said they raised their concerns with Bosma and his staff last summer. They said they were worried that clients represented by Turner's daughter would either get special treatment in the budget or appear to get a leg up on competition. The lawmakers insisted on anonymity because they weren't authorized to publicly discuss their private conversations . . .
Turner's work as a lobbyist for the U.S. Fireworks Safety Commission, which represents the fireworks industry in other states, and his daughter's lobbying in the Indiana Statehouse have long been a concern, said another lawmaker. But it wasn't until it looked like Turner might write the budget that Republicans pressed Bosma.
A third lawmaker confirmed the accounts of the other two representatives.
Turner has occasionally been rebuffed by his colleagues in the General Assembly on issues involving his family's interests.
Members of the Ways and Means Committee last month rejected a Turner amendment that would have opened the door for Insure-Rite to win a multimillion-dollar state contract. But a similar measure was included in a Senate bill signed by Pence earlier this month.
In 2011, Turner abstained from voting on a measure limiting the number of beds in nursing homes following a newspaper report about how it would benefit his son's company. Turner says he always planned to abstain on the vote and questioned the report . . .

Monday, April 15, 2013

It's All In The Family For Eric Turner

If the House Republicans cared about their image, they would immediately call for the resignation of State Rep. Eric Turner as their Speaker Pro Tem. For the umpteenth time, Turner has been busted for engaging in self-dealing activities for his family's business interests. The latest involves his efforts to allow the BMV to enter into a multi-million dollar contract with a private company to screen uninsured drivers. Turner's daughter, Jessaca Turner Stolts, is a lobbyist for Insure-Rite, a company that lobbied for the legislation and hopes to win the contract. According to an AP report, Rep. Turner personally aided in the passage of the legislation that has now been signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence.
House Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner pushed a measure in the House opening the door for Insure-Rite to win a multimillion-dollar contract screening uninsured drivers for the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Turner's effort to include the proposal in a sweeping tax bill failed late last month, but a similar measure was signed into law by Pence last week.
Turner, R-Cicero, said he saw nothing wrong with advocating for the measure being sought by his daughter, Jessaca Turner Stults, a lobbyist working for Insure-Rite. He said he has previously voted against the interest of his daughter's clients on legislation and didn't think it was necessary to recuse himself.
"I vote the way I feel my constituents feel and the way I feel would be the best to vote," Turner said. "I only vote in what's in the best interest of Indiana."
Documents obtained by The Associated Press show Turner authored the failed House amendment. But Turner and his daughter say it was instead written by House Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville . . .  
Stults said she saw nothing wrong with her father supporting the Insure-Rite measure and pointed to legislation he authored that would harm one of her other clients, online retailer Amazon.

"I think that we do a very good job of trying not to cross that line, but I'm not going to deny that I'm his daughter," Stults said. "This is my job, and I represent my clients. Just like he does what he needs to do from a policy perspective."
Turner's daughter formerly worked as general counsel for FSSA at the same time it was seeking legislative backing for the agency's efforts to privatize welfare services, which Turner actively worked to pass. After the privatization deal went forward, a company owned by Turner's family entered into a multi-million dollar long-term lease with ACS-Xerox for a school building in Marion , which the family's business had just coincidentally purchased a short term earlier, for the FSSA contractor to operate a call center as part of its responsibilities under the agency's welfare privatization deal with it. Just last week, a business controlled by Turner's family received $345,000 in state aid to relocate its headquarters in Cicero to a building owned by Simon Property Group in Carmel's Clay Terrace development. And the AP's Tom Lobianco reminds us of yet another conflict in the past:
In 2011, Turner had another brush with a potential conflict. Turner was asked to skip a vote dealing with nursing homes in the House Ways and Means Committee after The Indianapolis Star reported he was a partner in a company that invested in his son’s nursing home development firm. His daughter, Stults, and son, Zeke Turner, each had testified against the proposal to limit private-pay nursing home beds. Turner had told the Star earlier that month that he saw no need to abstain from voting, but then-Chairman Jeff Espich asked Turner to abstain.
Turner's number one job as a state representative seems to be to see how much money he can make for himself and his family members. His colleagues know that he blatantly engages in these self-dealing activities but don't have the courage to speak out against him. Their complicity in his wrongdoing makes them equally as guilty as him as far as I'm concerned.

UPDATE: The Star has a separate story about two lawmakers doing all they can to ram the pole up the butts of every Indiana natural gas utility user to ensure that their employers make more money from legislation they are trying to affect:
A proposed coal-gas plant in Rockport could have a big impact on the pocketbooks of Indiana residents, but legislation that would introduce new ratepayer protections has twice been watered down at the hands of lawmakers whose employers could benefit from the project.
The lawmakers, Sen. Jim Merritt and Rep. Matt Ubelhor, both have strong ties to the coal industry, which wants to see the project move forward because it would open up a new market for their product. Demand for coal has been waning as aging coal-burning electric plants are shuttered and replaced with cleaner forms of energy production.
Merritt, who is chairman of the Senate Utility Committee, also is vice president for corporate affairs with the Indiana Rail Road Co. Most of the railroad’s business comes from hauling coal, and its largest clients include utility and coal mining companies. Ubelhor is an operations manager for Peabody Energy, the largest coal mining company in Indiana. Both companies could gain new business from the Rockport plant.
The lawmakers’ connections are raising questions about their role in shaping legislation that could alter the course of the planned $2.8 billion Rockport project.
“You don’t have to look at this with a high-powered pair of lenses to see the conflict of interest. It’s glaring,” said Julia Vaughn, policy director with government watchdog group Common Cause Indiana. “Two people with the most obvious and direct conflicts on this issue have been the ones to come to the project’s rescue.” . . . .

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Turner Abstains From Vote On Nursing Home Bill

State Rep. Eric Turner (R-Cicero) abstained from voting on legislation that was intended to curb the number of private-pay nursing home beds in Indiana after a story in the Star questioned his conflict of interest. Turner originally told the Star he would not abstain from voting on legislation on which both his daughter, a lobbyist, and his son, a nursing home owner, had testified against in the House Ways & Means Committee. State Rep. Jeff Espich (R-Uniondale), the committee's chairman asked Turner to abstain, although he said he thought the Star unfairly characterized his conflict of interest. The committee's vote stripped from the bill the provision limiting the number of new beds opposed by Turner's family members. The company owned by Turner's family bills itself as "one of the nation's largest real estate developers committed to improving long-term care" according to its website. The Star's Heather Gillers explains:

The Indianapolis Star reported Wednesday that one of the committee members, Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, is a partner in a company invested in his son's nursing home development firm.

In addition, Turner' son and daughter, a lobbyist, have testified against the bill before the committee.

Turner told The Star on Tuesday that he saw no need to abstain from voting on the nursing home expansion restrictions, which he opposes for philosophical reasons.

On Wednesday, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale, criticized The Star -- then asked Turner to abstain.

"For those of you who read The Star this morning," Espich said at the committee hearing, "there was . . . I think a very unfair characterization that there are conflicts of interest. I am going to ask Representative Turner not to vote on this motion because his family is directly involved."

Turner complied with Espich's request that he not vote on the issue.
Sen. Pat Miller (R-Miller), the Senate sponsor of the legislation, is not amused by the House committee's decision to strip the provision from the bill. Miller said she will not concur with the change when it is returned to the Senate. "There are some new members of Ways and Means that don't know the issues," she said. "Part of it is a learning experience for them."

Giller's report in yesterday's paper explained how the Family & Social Services Administration was seeking to curb the number of licensed nursing home beds in Indiana in order to keep costs down and improve care and the role Turner's family was playing in opposing it. Giller's original story was entitled, "Opposition to nursing home bill is all in the family." Gillers wrote in that story:

Jessaca Turner Stults, who testified at last week's Ways and Means Committee on behalf of nursing home developer Mainstreet Property Group, is a lobbyist and former FSSA attorney.

She's also Turner's daughter.

The chairman and CEO of Mainstreet, Paul "Zeke" Turner, also testified that it would be a bad idea to pass a bill curbing nursing home construction.

Zeke Turner is the lawmaker's son.

Eric Turner and his wife also are partners in Mainstreet Capital Partners LLC, which invests in Mainstreet Property Group.

And when the committee meets to amend and vote on the bill today, Turner plans to cast a vote -- and he plans to side with his children.

That all this could happen within the bounds of Indiana law paints a stark picture of just how cozy the relationship between state officials and industry can be in this state.
Giller's story notes Turner's daughter served as FSSA's general counsel immediately before going to work as a lobbyist for the nursing home industry. Apparently her employment doesn't violate the state's one-year revolving door law becasue she isn't lobbying the executive branch of government in which she served. Last year, I picked up on another story in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette questioning Turner's role in pushing legislation to privatize FSSA's welfare services and how his son's company wound up winning a contract to house a call center operated by ACS, the private contractor that operated the call center that Turner had pressed hard to have placed in his legislative district. Turner did not list on his financial disclosure statement his ownership interest in the company that owned the building in which the call center was housed. The company purchased the vacant school building from the Marion public schools for $350,000. After making improvements for the call center, it was assessed for a value of more than $7 million. Turner also insisted his daugther, then the general counsel for FSSA, played no part in the decisions relating to the call center lease agreement for the buidling in which he and his son had an ownership interest.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rep. Eric Turner's Suggestion Women May Fabricate Rape Claims To Get Abortions Goes Viral On YouTube

House Assistant Republican Leader Eric Turner (R-Cicero) may now be regretting comments he made during a debate over an amendment to an anti-abortion bill in the House this week. Turner suggested women may fabricate rape or incest allegations as an excuse for obtaining an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Rep. Gail Riecken (D-Evansville) offered an amendment to HB 1210 to soften the impact of Turner's proposed law outlawing late-term abortions by making exceptions for cases where a woman became pregnant due to rape or incest. Turner's comments brought an emotional rebuke from Rep. Linda Lawson (D-Hammond), who formerly worked as a sex crimes investigator. House video of the exchange has been uploaded to YouTube and has now gone viral. The House voted down Riecken's amendment on a 42 to 54 vote.