Monday, July 23, 2007

Another Lawmaker Cashes Out

Rep. Matt Whetstone (R) turned in his resignation as a member of the Indiana House of Representatives today so he could become a lobbyist for a major Indianapolis law firm, Krieg DeVault. Those of you who tune in "Indiana Week In Review" each week will be familiar with another lobbyist at this firm, Mike McDaniel, who serves as one of the shows regular panelists. You may recall that whenever the subject turned to the legislation which allowed slots at the horse race tracks, the show's host, Jim Shella, asked McDaniel to provide a disclaimer that he represented a client pushing the legislation. The firm has long represented the interests of Paul Estridge, a principal owner of Shelbyville horse race track, Indianapolis Downs.

As a lawmaker, Whetstone has been a proponent of gaming expansion in Indiana, and he voted for the legislation allowing the state's two horse race tracks to purchase a franchise to operate slot machines. By turning in his resignation this week, Whetstone will not only be able to immediately begin lobbying his former colleagues, he will also be entitled to receive the lifetime health insurance perk lawmakers did away with after a public outcry by tendering his resignation before July 31.

Whetstone becomes the second member of the Indiana House to resign this year alone to become a lobbyist. Former Rep Bob Kuzman (D) resigned last month to join the law firm of Ice Miller, which also lobbied the legislature for slots at the horse race tracks. While many other states have laws providing cooling-off periods for retiring legislators, Indiana has no such restriction. The State House hallways are full of former legislators lobbying their former seatmates.

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