Craig Dunn: Making the case for Todd Young
Thursday, October 20, 2016 9:26 AM
KOKOMO – Indiana deserves a better United States senator than Evan Bayh. Although I may be accused of using trite political rhetoric, I assure you, my motives and words are sincere. I have five reasons why Evan Bayh should not be elected to the Senate.
First, and perhaps most important, Evan Bayh was a totally ineffective senator for 12 years. The “boy governor” turned “boy senator” was so focused on riding a Senate seat to the White House that he assiduously avoided saying anything or taking any legislative stands that might raise any political angst in either conservative Indiana or in the liberal bastions of the liberal left coasts. Don’t believe me? Stuart Rothenberg from the Washington Post wrote critically of Evan Bayh and quoted James Hohmann from the Power Post:
“One of the many reasons that so many of his Democratic colleagues did not like Evan Bayh during his tenure in the Senate was his excessive caution. The hyper-ambitious, always privileged and ever-calculating son of a senator long dreamed of becoming president, and he represented a conservative-leaning state. So he was perennially nervous about taking tough votes or courageous stands. He often seemed to waffle and have his finger in the wind.”
Ouch! In fact, I challenge you to name one piece of significant legislation passed in Bayh’s 12 years occupying a desk in the United States Senate chambers. Don’t bother looking. You won’t find it.
My second reason for rejecting Evan Bayh is that he proved to be a cry baby quitter when Indiana and the United States needed a patriot and a man of courage. Instead of calling out the arcane procedures and rules of the Senate that led to frequent inaction and gridlock, Bayh hit the road and got out of Dodge. Bayh’s reason for leaving the Senate was the deadlock, gridlock and acrimony of the Senate. Six years later and, voila, his reason for wanting to return to the Senate is because of the deadlock, gridlock and acrimony. Go figure.
Evan Bayh does not pass the Hoosier smell test. I’ve come to appreciate from my many years of living in the great State of Indiana the innate common sense of the average Hoosier. Regardless of walk of life, income, education level or political affiliation, I have found the average Hoosier to have a pretty good sense of what smells right when it comes to community leaders and politicians. Bayh comes up smelling like a cross between Lake Michigan alewives washed up on shore and a three-week-old dead rat.
Run this one past your old Hoosier proboscis: Son of Indiana politician with little or no assets is elected governor of Indiana. He serves eight years earning less than $100,000 per year. He is elected to the United States Senate. He makes a whopping $175,000 per year as a senator for 12 years. He now owns two multi-million-dollar homes in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, a mega-million-dollar playhouse in Florida and has amassed millions in assets.
Does this sound reasonable to you? Does it pass your smell test? Evan Bayh’s final year in the U.S. Senate resembled less “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and more of Monte Hall’s “Let’s Make A Deal.”
In a personal tactic that rivals some of the poorest judgment ever demonstrated by a senator, and I need not tell you how high a bar that is, Evan Bayh spent much of his last year in the Senate shuttling back and forth between Washington and New York City, shopping his many talents to lobbying and investment firms, looking for meaningful work in his post-Senate career. Bad form, Senator! This one oozed from the slime.
Here’s what our friends at the Indianapolis Star had to say on the subject: “During his final months in the U.S. Senate, Evan Bayh broke ranks with most of his fellow Democrats several times to oppose or reduce the impact of legislative proposals that threatened the bottom lines of private equity firms, banks and oil companies. But that wouldn’t be Bayh’s last interaction with those industries. Within weeks of leaving public office, Bayh became a senior adviser to Apollo Global Management, one of the world’s largest private equity firms. Several months later, he landed lucrative corporate board appointments at Fifth Third Bank and Marathon Petroleum.” Ouch! What did the esteemed former senator do when confronted by the Star with these inconvenient details? His staff told a big ole Flatrock Fib.
Once again, here is what the Indianapolis Star had to say: “Bayh landed a lucrative job with private equity giant Apollo Global Management shortly after leaving office in January 2011. He had in the months prior worked against a tax increase on carried interest and a provision of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform act that would have hurt the bottom lines of companies like Apollo. The timing of the new job prompted IndyStar to ask Bayh’s campaign about a half dozen taxpayer-funded trips Bayh took to New York City during the last half of 2010. The flurry of travel was unusual for Bayh; he hadn’t used taxpayer money to travel to New York City since 2002.
“In response to IndyStar’s inquiries, the campaign said in early September that Bayh didn’t meet with anyone from Apollo during those trips. Turns out, that wasn’t the case. The Associated Press reported Saturday that Bayh stayed overnight three times at one Apollo executive’s New York City residence, and met twice with the company’s chief executive, Leon Black.The report was based on Bayh’s previously unreleased 2010 schedule.”
In plain words what does all this mean? It means that while Hoosiers were still hurting and suffering from the effects of the 2008 Great Recession, largely caused by the reckless activities of investment banks and private equity firms, Evan Bayh, while serving on the Senate Banking Committee, was busy brokering his soul for the multi-millions that go with the often dark world of private equity. The regulator traded his work in the Senate for a high-dollar future in finance. What did Apollo get for all of the millions paid to Sen. Bayh? Access. Access. Access.
Finally, Evan Bayh really does not want to be a lowly senator from Indiana. According to the Washington Post’s Rothenberg, who had discussed a potential return to the Senate with Bayh, previously: “Given those conversations, I was pretty sure I knew how he felt and what he thought about serving in the Senate again. He hated the idea. Unequivocally. Emphatically. No ifs, ands or buts.”
Gee, what changed his mind? Property taxes on his three multi-million-dollar mansions? Bentley need a new leather steering wheel? The Affordable Care Act making his healthcare unaffordable? Let’s be generous and just say that you can bet that his reasons are not the slightest bit altruistic.
Indiana has an opportunity to accomplish two equally worthy results with the defeat of Evan Bayh’s cynical attempt to return to the land of milk, honey and easy money. We have an opportunity to soundly reject allowing Bayh to resume his self-aggrandizement in the United States Senate at the expense of the citizens of Indiana, and send a talented young man to represent Hoosier values and common sense to the den of vipers.
Todd Young has demonstrated an amazing lifetime of academic, professional and public service achievements that warrant our vote. He spends his evenings in Washington, not out on the town with hedge fund and private equity billionaires, but in his office. This guy Young is a real Hoosier!
Dunn is Howard County Republican chairman.