Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Kittle Denies Offering A Bribe To Speaker Bosma To Kill HJR-3

Former Indiana State GOP Chairman James Kittle is denying a recent AP report identifying him as the unidentified person that House Speaker Brian Bosma recently told State House reporters offered him unlimited campaign contributions if he would kill HJR-3, the marriage discrimination amendment. Bosma said he turned down the offer and expressed concern about the legality of the offer to the unidentified person who offered it to him. Lobianco reported that numerous sources familiar with the offer said it was Kittle who made the offer.

What I find more interesting than who said what in this saga is the State House media coverage of this issue, or better yet, the lack thereof. I observed at the time Speaker Bosma stepped before reporters and made the astonishing claim that virtually no State House reporter mentioned the serious bribery allegation in their reporting of that day's press briefing. Apparently, only the AP's Tom LoBianco even bothered to track the story down to learn who the person was who Bosma alleged made the offer to him.

One would think that a story of this importance put out by an AP reporter would be picked up by virtually all major news outlets in Indiana. Yet most newspapers ignored the story and many media outlets either didn't run the story, or only ran abbreviated version of the story. The only newspaper I could find that ran LoBianco's follow-up story containing a denial from Kittle is the Columbus Republic, which is hardly one of the State's leading daily newspapers. This would story would appear to be an abbreviated version of LoBianco's story, judging by its length--four short paragraphs.

LoBianco's story also mentions that the National Organization for Marriage sent a letter to Attorney General Greg Zoeller requesting an investigation of the alleged bribe offered by Kittle to Bosma. The out-of-state organization obviously is unaware that our state's Attorney General, one of the weakest in the nation, has no prosecutorial powers.

Perhaps revealing of the media's agenda on the issue of same-sex marriage was the extra attention it gave to an issue that arose with a tax bill making its way through the legislature yesterday. Because Indiana's income tax piggy backs on the federal income tax, lawmakers are asked to periodically update the state's income tax code to reflect changes in the Internal Revenue Code. After the IRS ruled last year that same-sex couples would be allowed to file joint tax returns and otherwise be treated the same as traditional married coupled under the tax code following the Supreme Court's landmark decision striking down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the Indiana Department of Revenue quickly announced that same-sex couples who filed joint federal tax returns would still have to file tax returns separately because of the state's Defense of Marriage Act, which no court has yet ruled unconstitutional.

Arguably, the differing tax treatment of same-sex and opposite-sex couples increases the likelihood that state laws like Indiana's Defense of Marriage Act will eventually be ruled unconstitutional. That has already been the outcome in several lower federal court rulings handed down since last year's Supreme Court ruling. If state lawmakers had rejected the Department of Revenue's ruling last year and allowed same-sex couples to file joint state tax returns, it would have implicitly repudiated the state's Defense of Marriage Act. Yesterday's action in the Senate was taken to codify the state's Department of Revenue's administrative determination, which is consistent with state law whether one likes that law or not.

UPDATE: The IBJ has published a longer version of the AP story, which includes quotes from Kittle in response to the allegations:
Jim Kittle, a prolific fundraiser in Indiana Republican circles, said he twice met with and tried to convince House Speaker Brian Bosma that the ban shouldn't be considered this session but that he never offered unlimited funds. Bosma has repeatedly said he was offered unlimited money in the heat of the debate if he would pull the issue from consideration, but he has refused to say who made the offer.
Kittle, who opposed the ban, told The Associated Press that he met with the legislative leader at Bosma's law office, once before the session and again shortly after the session started. He said Bosma expressed concerns that some House Republicans could face strong primary election fights if they opposed the ban.
"To offer support to individual legislators if they do happen to get primaried or they're running certainly is not illegal, immoral or anything else," Kittle said. "I respect the fact that Brian's got himself kind of in a jam here. He misjudged what was happening, period, on this."
At the start of the fight in January, Bosma said he had rejected an offer of "unlimited" funds to make the ban "go away." He said at the time that he was concerned it might violate state and federal law.
But, last week, Bosma said he believed nothing criminal was meant by the offer. Bosma spokeswoman Tory Flynn declined comment Tuesday, referring to Bosma's comments last week.


LamLawIndy said...

Gary, LoBianco's story says that Kittle admits offering support for reps who drew primary challenges but denies a promise of unlimited funding.

I'm perplexed as to why the Speaker went public with this now: I don't see any upside. That being said, the Speaker has shown time & again a strategic mind better able to grasp the politics of the Indiana House than others; maybe we'll see what comes of this.

Charles M. Navarra said...

I recall how astounded I was when the House Speaker made the bribery allegation and at the same time how incredibly amazed I was in hearing and reading no follow-up to a very serious charge. Thank you for yet another revealing news story. When it comes to local and state politicos- it really is true you just cannot make this stuff up!

Gary R. Welsh said...

Carlos, The full-length story, which I have now referenced after the IBJ put it online this morning, provides the context of the offer, which the shortened story didn't provide.

Marycatherine Barton said...

I wish AP would follow up Victor Thorn's story in this week's American Free Press, "Hillary and Her Supporters Waging War Against Women". LoBianco is a great interviewer, and the victims, Kathleen Wiley and Juanita Broaddrick deserve to be heard. Sorry, but I don't think there is much interest in this drama between Kittle and Bosma.

Anonymous said...

Dig deeper...There's obviously more to this story and connections therewith...