There is a striking development in the role of public dollars in Indiana electioneering. In essence, Republican candidates have figured out how to use state legislation and state agencies to build up their names and thus buttress their campaigns. There are two examples. They involve state Rep. Chuck Goodrich’s campaign for Congress and Brad Chambers’ effort to get the Republican gubernatorial nomination.
You can’t help liking Chuck Goodrich. He manages to be both difficult and amiable. These are traits rarely seen in the same person.
But he also has another distinction. In his brief time in the Legislature, he has managed to corner the market on proposing complex new schemes for job training. His self-proclaimed success in this arena is being used to support his claim that he’s ready to go to Congress.
Goodrich has managed last year to get his confusing and expensive bill on vocational training to be the second highest priority for the Indiana House Republicans. Now another bill designed to clear up the mess he created is the No. 1 Republican priority.
Let’s set aside cynicism about whether the legislation will help pay to train works for Goodrich’s company and look at something that is indisputable. Goodrich has managed to cobble together an internship or apprentice program that will cost the state tens of millions of dollars whether or not it succeeds. And as he runs for Congress, he can point to this confusing and expensive legislation as proof of his prowess as a legislator. After all, they were GOP top priorities.
When the legislation turns out to be a long-term disaster, it will be too late to negatively affect his congressional campaign. The negative impacts on our students, our schools, our current vocational training programs, our school counselors and the state and local education budgets are all matters to be dealt with later.
Then there’s Chambers, who is running for public office for the first time. He has set his sights even higher than Goodrich. He wants to become governor based on his self-proclaimed successes with the Indiana Economic Development Corp.
Remember, Chambers was head of the IEDC while continuing to be the CEO of his development company, allowing him to keep making money in the private sector. Nonetheless, he has managed to set a record for spending public dollars on what is broadly known as “economic development.” His IEDC position is his only real credential for seeking office. Talk about laboring in the political vineyard! From IEDC appointee to governor in one giant leap! All thanks to record spending.
Chambers’ strategy has one great flaw. The public caught onto the scope of his dream of creating a giant state-owned industrial park in Boone County appropriately called “LEAP.” Voters have noticed that he wants to seize a large chunk of our state’s water resources without adequate planning. He also can’t hide the fact that the IEDC has paid huge sums for ordinary farm ground. All this has given him bragging rights to a poorly planned project.
When candidates with modest credentials use state resources to improve their electoral position, it it can cost Hoosier taxpayers a great deal. Hoosiers need to recognize what candidates are doing before they vote. Indiana has not adopted public funding of political campaigns, but we are seeing public dollars used indirectly for just that.•
DeLaney, an Indianapolis attorney, is a Democrat representing the 86th District in the Indiana House of Representatives. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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