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Daniels says trip for political meeting was appropriate

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Purdue University President Mitch Daniels said his trip to a conference in Georgia attended by several Republican presidential hopefuls was a chance to promote the school and meet potential donors.

The former Indiana governor said his decision to speak at the American Enterprise Institute's private event in early March was appropriate despite his pledge to avoid partisan politics while leading Purdue.

Daniels told the Journal & Courier he's attended the conference the past three years to learn.

Society for an Open, Accountable Purdue member Joe Perkins said he believes Daniels' attendance at such meetings breaks his promise to stop being a politician.
Daniels said that holds him to a double standard since other university presidents are free to attend similar think tank events without such scrutiny.

Details of the event organized by the think tank the American Enterprise Institute were revealed this week by the Center for Public Integrity, which obtained a copy of the program and other materials.

Far from public scrutiny, Republican presidential hopefuls, high-powered donors and other national political and business leaders gathered at a five-star resort in Georgia for a secretive meeting to discuss the midterm elections, foreign policy and the economy.

Attendees during the three-day meeting in early March at The Cloister in Sea Island, Ga., reportedly included such potential 2016 presidential hopefuls as Gov. Scott Walker and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Others listed on the program: former Vice President Dick Cheney; former CIA Director David Petraeus; major Republican donor and former Amway President Dick DeVos; TD Ameritrade founder Joe Rickets; GOP strategist Karl Rove; Apple CEO Tim Cook; and Scott Carpenter, the deputy director of Google Ideas.

Three Republicans — Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Daniels — were slated to lead a discussion titled "How to Fix the States."

Judy Mayka Stecker, a spokeswoman for the American Enterprise Institute, declined to answer specific questions about the "World Forum" gathering, which AEI has hosted annually since 1982. She described the meeting as "an informal gathering of leading thinkers from all ideological backgrounds to discuss challenges facing our world in economics, security and social welfare."

In an email, Stecker said: "To maintain intellectual freedom and free discourse, the event is private and off the record, therefore we do not comment further on the content or attendees."

The Center for Public Integrity reviewed travel documents filed with Congress and determined that 18 members of Congress attended the event, all but two of them Republicans. The only Democratic members of Congress there, according to the event program, were Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.

Some former and current Obama administration officials were also present. They included National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander and Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, who was on several panel discussions including one about the global economy and another national health policy.

Two potential 2016 presidential candidates — Walker and Ryan — both were interviewed at a breakfast event.

"Congressman Ryan thought it was important to hear from leading scholars, thinkers and lawmakers about the public policy issues facing our nation," his spokesman Kevin Seifert said Wednesday. "The AEI World Forum provided a good opportunity to do that."

Walker's spokesman would only confirm that he attended the meeting.

Tea party Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin also attended and participated in a panel discussion on "the politics of health care, inequality, jobs and dissatisfaction." His spokeswoman, Melinda Whitemarsh Schnell, said he felt it was important to attend "to have these kinds of frank conversations and meaningful discussions among leaders from the business, political, financial world."

A report on the meeting first appeared in The Huffington Post.
 

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  • Amway?
    Why would anyone want anything to do with Amway? It is a scam. Google "stop the amway tool scam wordpress"
  • Daniels Needs Better Choice of Conferences
    We will never see the politics taken out of Daniels. Nevertheless, he should be honest with the Purdue faculty about his actions. And, it is not clear how this visit "benefits Purdue" as Daniels has claimed unless he is going to share all of the information he gained with faculty and students. Surely there are more non-political conferences that he could attend that would be better suited for a University President!
  • whine whine whine
    More whining from liberals who have no ideas or plans of their own.
  • Big Deal
    If it weren't for politics Purdue wouldn't exist. While I may not agree with everything he does, this kind of activity is a big deal (in a good way) for Purdue's future.
  • it is tiresome ..... Mitch
    Your right it is tiresome, Mitch can not spend the State money on himself like he use too. And he can’t claim innocence all the time. We are tired – from your IPL stock sales years ago to selling Indiana toll road to now this on a state schools dime (in essence our dime) – you are right James I / we (not everyone) are tired of Mitch.
  • This is becoming tiresome
    The entrenched anti-Daniels cadre will reliably trot out boiler-plate criticism of anything that is not staus quo academic-progressive. The media will reliably publish it.

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