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Rokita to politicians: Careful with donations from union

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If you take political donations from the teacher's union, expect the state to come after you.

That’s the message Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita sent this month in a letter to all candidates for statewide political offices.

Rokita sued the Indiana State Teachers Association for defrauding local school districts of $23 million in a health insurance plan that went bust last year.

In his letter, dated Oct. 1, Rokita warned candidates that if he prevails in court, his securities division staff will pursue any money the candidates received from the ISTA’s political action committee.

“The Securities Division will aggressively trace and attempt to recover all funds associated with ISTA in its transfers and expenditures of resources for whatever purposes,” states the letter, which went to more than 200 candidates or their campaign organizations. Rokita asks the candidates to either return the money to ISTA now or set it aside in a separate account until the lawsuit concludes.

But the ISTA says Rokita is making political hay out of a non-issue. Rokita is running this year for Congress in Indiana’s 4th Congressional district.

“Rokita’s heavy-handed attempt to intimidate pro-public education candidates is insulting to ISTA members and public education supporters across the state,” ISTA leaders wrote in an Oct. 6 message to their members. “His letter is another ploy aimed at discrediting ISTA and pro-public education candidates in an attempt to thwart efforts to maintain a pro-public education majority in the Indiana House.”

ISTA reiterated that its political contributions do not come from member dues, but from voluntary contributions made by members specifically to the political action committee.

About three-quarters of ISTA members contribute $2 a month toward the political committee, said ISTA spokesman Mark Shoup.

Rokita sued the ISTA to recover money owed to school districts who paid into a health insurance plan operated by the ISTA. That fund ran short of cash and was shut down by the Indiana Department of Insurance after the plan's investments—many of which were placed in illiquid, high-risk hedge funds—tanked in value.

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  • Here's your clue...
    In case you didn't realize it, the state is alleging fraud on school districts by the Indiana State Teachers Association. Since fraud was committed against a unit of government, that makes it a matter for the state to pursue. The letter is merely a notification that the state may ask for ISTA donations back to cover the cost of their alleged fraud. Pretty simple, right?

    Now, on to the Durham case...since there has not yet been any fraud claims made by any unit of government, the civil aspect of his situation is up to those who do have fraud claims to pursue. If anyone who invested in, and therefore lost money through Durham fruadulent activities, feels compelled to retrieve those monies donated to political organizations, they're free to do so, and in would quite possibly succeed.

    However, this action would have to commence within a reasonable time from when the donation occurred, or it may simply be too late.

    In the case of ISTA, it's quite disgusting that they're continuing their political maneuvering while stepping out on $23m debt that will be paid by local school districts who already have record high labor costs, again due in no small part to the ISTA.
  • Why not--seems unfair
    AFTER ALL--------big companies now now support whoever they want. That means the GOP and their big business interests.

    I still cannot believe the Supreme Court said this is legal.
  • double standard?
    And just which Statewide Politicians of High Office didn't feel compelled to return dirty money from the cheater Tim Durham? Hmmm? Bigger names than Rokita is pointing out.
    • Not a believer
      Rokita is an idiot trying to get his name in the paper, which what the IBJ just did for him. Instead of writing this drivel, ask Rokita how he is going to improve education and bring jobs to Indiana.

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