Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Unions Funded Democratic Lawmakers Exile In Urbana, Just As We Thought

In an e-mail today, Indiana GOP Chairman Eric Holcomb lambastes Democratic lawmakers for using union contributions to entirely fund the cost of their nearly $85,000 hotel tab for housing Democratic caucus members during their more than month-long walkout earlier this session. Holcomb, citing a recently-filed campaign finance report for the Indiana Democratic Party, writes:

Democrats continue to fight for narrow special interests clamoring for the status quo. A finance report filed last week shows the entire Urbana hotel bill was footed by unions - many of them out-of-state.

Unions contributed $139,000 to the Indiana Democrat Party during the walkout, every penny of which went to pay off the $84,953.70 hotel tab.

With friends like these, what's to stop Democrats from pulling another one of their antics right before we cross the finish line?
As this blog was the first to point out, Indiana law prohibits lobbyists from paying for out-of-state travel for state lawmakers. Further, the law prohibits lawmakers from soliciting or accepting campaign contributions while the legislature is in session. The walkout was staged by the House Democratic caucus in an effort to kill right to work legislation and other legislation opposed by labor unions. A strong argument can be made that Democrats violated the law by soliciting contributions for this purpose, which is a Class D felony, from the very special interest groups that stood to benefit from their bolting the state and remaining there until they were assured of obtaining concessions critical to their key constituency. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who has statutory authority to initiate investigations of violations of the law, has shown no interest in doing so. Adding further insult to injury, some Democratic lawmakers have questioned the legality of the House imposing daily fines against them under House Rules and deducting the fines from their paychecks. At least one lawmaker, Rep. Phil GiaQuinta (D-Ft. Wayne), has threatened to sue the House over the payment of the fines.


Cato said...

Is this not just a corporation engaging in political advocacy, the same sort of activity Republicans usually howl to protect?

M Theory said...


Who enforces these laws preventing lobbyists from these activities?

I think we should organize people to make formal complaints and demand that the offending party be prosecuted.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Actually they might be right about the fines.

Federal and state labor law only allows an employer to deduct certain specific things from a person's paycheck, absent a written agreement with the employee. I have doubts they can deduct fines from a person's regular paycheck. They deducted from their per diem check instead of their salary check. I don't know if the rules are different for an expense check as opposed to one you get for salary.

You also have the issue of separation of powers. One could argue that courts don't have a right to interfere in the internal operations of the General Assembly.

Downtown Indy said...

What about ghost employment law? They were paid, then they stopped showing up for work for 5 weeks.

Brett said...

"Unions contributed $139,000 to the Indiana Democrat Party during the walkout, every penny of which went to pay off the $84,953.70 hotel tab."

I can't see how you make this math work, unless the hotel was tipped very generously. Surely some of those 1.39 million pennies must have went to something other than the hotel tab?

Perhaps you meant that every cent of the hotel tab came from the donation?