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Friday, February 24, 2017
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Friday, February 24, 2017 10:59 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. Mayor Pete makes his final pitch for DNC chair

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is making his final pitch for his DNC Chair bid that comes to a head on Saturday in Atlanta. Appearing on MSNBC this morning, Mayor Pete noted that there are less votes at stake than for a typical high school class president contest. “We’re finding that the two major candidates can’t get a majority of votes,” he said of Tom Perez and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison. “I’m living what the other candidates say we need to deliver. Why wouldn’t you want someone from the Millennial generation running and winning in a bright red state?”

Buttigieg is hoping that Perez and Ellison won’t clinch on a first ballot, and then he’ll make the “everybody’s second choice” case articulated by Howard Dean on Wednesday, perhaps winning on a second or third ballot. If he wins, “I’ll step down as mayor for it’s a full-time job.” He added, “We’re on our back foot as a party and with redistricting not that far away, we have to have a strategy.”

2. President Trump talks fake news at CPAC

President Trump had a rollicking speech before CPAC this morning and clarified his remarks on the press being the “enemy of the American people.” Trump said, “We are fighting the fake news. It’s phony, it’s fake. A few days ago I called fake news the enemy of the people. They make up sources. They are very dishonest people. I call the fake news the enemy of the people. All of a sudden the media says I’m against the media. I’m not against the media, I’m not against the press. But I am only against the fake news media or press. They shouldn’t be able to use unnamed sources. Put their name out there. Let them say it to my face. I love the 1st Amendment. Nobody loves it like me. Who uses it more than I do? It gives me the right to criticize fake news and do it strongly.”

Trump also talked about his upset victory last November. “The media didn’t think we would win. The pundits didn’t think we would win. The consultants who suck up all that money, they’re really good at sucking up people’s money, especially my opponents, they didn’t think we would win. They all underestimated the power of the people, you. The people never get it wrong. The era of empty talk is over.”

3. Rep. Banks concerned about Trump/Kremlin ties

We sat down with freshman U.S. Rep. Jim Banks on Thursday and he is very concerned about the reports of the Trump campaign in contact with the Kremlin during the 2016 campaign. He called “Russia a dangerous actor on the world stage,” and thus interference in the U.S. presidential campaign is “deeply troubling.”
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    INDIANAPOLIS – Democrats may not like what I am about to say, but we need to hear it.  Clearly women have woken up and donned their pussy hats, protesting, meeting, marching and learning how to more effectively influence good public policy in our state. Invigorated participation in politics is a very good thing, particularly here in Indiana where we have such traditionally low voter turnout.  That said, although the Democrat Party is supposed to be the party of inclusion, I have to express sincere appreciation for our Indiana Republicans in this regard. They just get it better than we do. Even though most members of my party (and others) may hold issue with the opposition’s approach to a number of issues that resonate mostly with females, we all have to admire the opportunity that the Indiana Republican Party has afforded women in our state.  This does not happen by accident.  Yes, women Democrats may have invigorated interest and participation, but we have no organized program to help women learn how to channel their interest and energy in this regard as effectively as possible.
    SOUTH BEND – South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg doesn’t have the votes to be selected Democratic national chairman. But right now it appears that nobody does. The two chairmanship contenders regarded as frontrunners are in a way still fighting the fight from the Democratic presidential primaries of 2016. They are Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, who was a zealot for Bernie Sanders, and Tom Perez, labor secretary in the Obama administration, who is favored by long-time supporters of Hillary Clinton. According to the New York Times analysis of the contest after the final regional faceoff of the contenders in Baltimore last weekend, neither of the frontrunners “has secured the support of anywhere close to a majority” of the 447 Democratic National Committee members who will pick a winner in Atlanta later this week. For an upset win in a crowded field of 10 candidates for chairman, Buttigieg needs to be a widespread second choice, or to come up through the middle, a compromise choice between the Sanders and Clinton primary combatants.
    INDIANAPOLIS – In the past week, the Committee on Elections and Apportionment failed to move HB1014 along to the full House. That anti-gerrymandering bill calls for establishing a commission to oversee redistricting. Unless bold action has been taken since this writing, the bill is dead for this session. There is no other bill of greater importance before the Indiana General Assembly. A redistricting commission would help correct the corrupt practice of providing safe seats for Indiana’s congressional representatives and those holding positions in the State Senate and House. However, our self-serving, one-party legislature has no interest in promoting democracy. Even those in the minority party have little concern for fair primaries and elections. Indiana will continue to have a legislature that is not representative of the people and not focused on the future of our economy. Instead, the General Assembly will persist as an instrument of the powerful and the privileged.
    WEST LAFAYETTE – The General Assembly is in session, and the big issue this year looks to be road funding. How will we raise the additional $1 billion or more that we need to maintain our roads? Funny thing, we seem to be wedded to the idea that those who use the roads should pay for them. We don’t always think this way for other expenditures. We don’t for K-12 education. The Constitution doesn’t allow tuition for public schools. The authors must have thought that an educated public benefitted everyone, not just the kids and their parents. You could make the same argument for roads. We all benefit whether we drive or not. Even if you walk to the grocery store, the food on the shelves has arrived in trucks, driven on roads. But, for whatever reason, we want drivers to pay for roads. That’s why we accept excise taxes on motor fuel as a way to fund road maintenance.
    INDIANAPOLIS – Vice President Mike Pence has always taken the so-called “long view” when it comes to his career. After losing two congressional races in the late 1980s, he settled into a think tank and broadcasting career, then went to Congress in 2001.  In 2011, he mulled a presidential bid for the following year, then focused on becoming Indiana’s 50th governor. There was the potential for a 2016 White House campaign. Some believe that his signing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act knocked him out, but others say he knew the crowded field left him only a slender path to the nomination. The clearer path was to get on the presidential ticket, and from May through July 2016, he executed a savvy strategy, wooing Donald Trump when dozens of other Republicans took a pass. When the veep nomination flickered on July 14, he boarded a charter jet and retrieved the prize.
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  • HPI Analysis: Buttigieg finds DNC traction ahead of chair vote
    INDIANAPOLIS – With both the Indiana and the U.S. Democratic parties in a state of crisis, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg will attempt to become the fourth Hoosier to take the helm of the national organization. Buttigieg and a field of seven other candidates are vying for 224 votes in Atlanta on Saturday. The winner will replace interim Chair Donna Brazile, who stepped in last summer when U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign in the wake of Wikileaks hacks of the party’s computer servers, perhaps with the assistance of the Kremlin. At that point, Hillary Clinton was thought to be a clear frontrunner over Republican Donald Trump. Buttigieg got a boost on Wednesday when former DNC Chair and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean endorsed him on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “The most important thing is he’s the outside-the-beltway candidate,” Dean said.
  • Appointed school chief still a priority for Gov. Holcomb

    INDIANAPOLIS – During the winter of 2005, new Gov. Mitch Daniels listened to Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Garton on why he didn’t want to pursue legislation that would turn the elect superintendent of public instruction into a gubernatorally appointed office. “He didn’t want to do the superintendent,” an inside source related of Garton. He said that Republican Supt. Suellen Reed didn’t support the legislation. Listening to the discussion was a young governor staffer named Eric Holcomb. Daniels tried to convince Garton that he would appoint Reed and let her serve out her term. But Garton insisted that the issue could be dealt with over the next two years. In 2006, Garton was upset in the Republican primary by Greg Walker.  And, as our source observed, “Here we are 12 years later and there’s still an elected superintendent.” It was a lesson not lost on now Gov. Holcomb, who is moving in his first legislative session to make the change. It is part of his legislative agenda.
  • Redistricting reform punted to 2018

    INDIANAPOLIS - While advocates for redistricting reform were disappointed when HB1014 died in committee this session, they remain hopeful 2018 is the year for the issue. At a press conference Wednesday, Indiana Common Cause leader Julia Vaughn stated that the group “is not deterred” by the HB1014 vote being dodged by House Elections Committee Chair Milo Smith. HB1014 was co-sponsored by Speaker Brian Bosma and was expected by Common Cause to pass the House, according to Vaughn. The bill would have created an independent committee which would draw district lines for the legislature’s approval. However, Vaughn speculated that “there were other priorities for the Speaker this session,” and that it wasn’t the right year for reform. “In a conversation with Speaker Bosma, he told me that he was 100% focused on road-funding this session,” continued Vaughn.
  • Big mo for Mayor Pete; Gov's Supt. TLC; Trump's Short on agenda
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Mayor Buttigieg has got the big mo: Here are today's talking points for your power lunch. He’s been described as the “dark horse” since South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg entered the Democratic National Committee chair race in January. But with “frontrunners” Tom Perez and Rep. Keith Ellison virtually certain not to get a first ballot victory on Saturday in Atlanta, the momentum appears to be with Buttigieg. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Buttigieg got a seismic boost from former DNC and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who endorsed the mayor. Yeah! “The most important thing is he’s the outside-the-beltway candidate,” Dean said. “Our leadership is old and creaky. He’s really capable and smart. He’s what we need.” Dean reminded Democrats, “I was an outsider. When I was elected we didn’t have the House, Senate or the presidency. When I left we had the House and presidency.”

  • Through the Trump tumult, Indiana Republicans laying low

    INDIANAPOLIS – The Republican Indiana congressional delegation in the new age of Trump is, for the most part, lying low during the first month of this turbulent and tumultuous presidency. Last Thursday’s 77-minute rambling press conference by President Trump, with Vice President Mike Pence seated quietly in the front row, allowed Americans to witness a barrage of lies and half truths, a shaky defense of his firing of Michael Flynn as national security adviser for lying to Pence, and a frontal assault against the news media. Trump seemed to blame the media for “fake news” on the Flynn lies, when he could have told Pence the truth 15 days prior. By Friday, Trump had declared the news media an “enemy of the American people.”

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  • White House asked FBI to discredit Kremlin/Trump campaign story
    "We didn't try to knock the story down. We asked them to tell the truth.” - Presidential press secretary Sean Spicer, reacting to reports from CNN and Fox News that White House chief of staff Reince Priebus asked a top FBI official to dispute media reports that President Trump's campaign advisers were in frequent touch with Russian intelligence agents during the 2016 election. Such a request from the White House is a violation of procedures that limit communications with the FBI on pending investigations, both Fox and CNN reported. FBI Director James Comey rejected the request for the FBI to comment on the stories, according to sources, because the alleged communications between Trump associates and Russians known to U.S. intelligence are the subject of an ongoing investigation.

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  • Congress has authority to review Trump tax returns. It should
    Harvard Prof. Mihir Desai and Edward Kleinbard, a former chief of staff of the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, write in the Washington Post that Congress has the authority via the federal tax code to review President Trump’s tax returns. You can read their article by clicking here. Trump broke modern precedent by being the first presidential candidate in modern times to refuse to release his taxes. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius writes today, "We may be missing the forest for the trees in the Russia story: The Kremlin's attempt to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election is part of a much bigger tale of Russian covert action — in which Donald Trump's campaign was perhaps a tool, witting or unwitting." With Kremlin interference in the 2016 presidential election, a development some in Congress have called an “act of war,” and with reports that the Kremlin and senior Trump campaign officials were in consistent contact, which was a story CNN and Fox News report on today, Members of the Indiana Congressional delegation should join a call for a review of the President’s tax returns. There is too much at stake and too much we don’t know.  - Brian A. Howey, publisher

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HPI Video Feed
WTHR-TV: Syrian refugees come to Indiana
WTHR-TV's Mary Milz talks to a Syrian refugee family who just arrived in Indiana.

President Trump's Feb. 16 Press Conference
President Trump's Feb. 16, 2017 White House press conference via Fox News.

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Trump taxes

Should Donald Trump release recent tax returns, like every major party nominee has done over the past 40 years?


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