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Ethics panel set to review Turner lobbying situation

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The Indiana House Ethics Committee is set to review the actions of a senior lawmaker who worked in private to block legislation that would have cost his family's company millions of dollars.

Republican House Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner fought a nursing home construction ban in the final days of the 2014 session. The Associated Press reported last week that Turner's 38-percent ownership stake in Mainstreet Property Group means he stands to receive $1 million or more on each new home that the company builds.

Turner has said he did nothing wrong and argues the ban wouldn't have caused him financial harm.

The ethics panel is scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon at the Statehouse. House ethics rules place limits on official actions, but Turner's actions came during private meetings of House Republicans.

Lawmakers said last-minute lobbying and promises about job creation killed the nursing-home legislation.

The ethics panel could have trouble finding clear-cut answers, in large part because of unclear ethics rules and the Indiana General Assembly's status as a "citizen legislature."

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  • Elected Officials vs Business
    Sipper Slope - You need a few lessons in representative government and business vs government. Subject matter knowledge is good but there is a difference from using subject matter to debate and craft good public policy and using an elected position to further your private interests behind closed doors. Corporations are not public entities and are a "for profit" enterprise; government is not. In addition, subject matter expertise can be brought to bear on public policy via open hearings conducted by the legislative committees of jurisdiction. Surely, you don't believe what you have written.
  • Slipper Slope
    Really, how short sighted can you people be? I suspect nearly all legislation benefits or doesn't benefit a business interest. So the insurance agent legislator should not bring his knowledge of insurance to discussions? So the street contractor should not bring his knowledge of street repair to the discussion? So the lawyer should not bring his knowledge of the law to the discussion? You need subject matter experts to assist in legislation and many of these legislators have this expertise. If Turner was on a corporate board, he would have a disclosure requirement and would be required to recuse himself on a vote but it would not prevent him from discussing the matter. Why should the legislature be any different than a corporate board? This is a slippery slope if you ban all private discussion in such a manner there will be no discussion.
  • Remove Turner from Leadership
    I agree wholeheartedly with AP. I would go a step further and recommend that Turner be removed from any leadership/committee head position.
  • 2 Things
    IC 2-2.1-3-7 provides that the ethics committee: (3) may recommend whatever sanction is appropriate with respect to a particular member as will best maintain in the minds of the public a good opinion of the conduct and character of members of the general assembly; and (4) may recommend legislation to the general assembly relating to the conduct and ethics of members of the general assembly. At the very least, Turner's actions should be publically condemned and legislation should be proposed banning legislators from private caucuses regarding a vote to which one of the caucusing members is prohibited from voting under the ethics rules.

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