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Monday, August 20, 2018
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Monday, August 20, 2018 11:33 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. Indiana abusing priest list coming

Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: The sexually abusing Catholic priest scandal, where 1,000 Pennsylvania kids were victims of 300 priests is now reverberating across Indiana, with Hoosier perpetrators about to be outed. The link is Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese Bishop Kevin Rhoades, who was named in the Pennsylvania grand jury report in reference to two priests accused of abuse. Rhoades told Indiana Public Media, “If the Pennsylvania grand jury report taught us anything, it’s that victims deserve to see the names of their abusers made public  for all to see, for everyone to know the pain caused by these priests. It is my hope, that by releasing these names, the innocent victims of these horrific and heartbreaking crimes can finally begin the process of healing.” So an earthquake is about to rock Hoosier Catholics.

The Pennsylvania report fallout has been described in Catholic circles as “catastrophic.” It comes on the heels of widespread evangelical support forPresident Trump, despite his alleged adulterous behavior (i.e. porn star Stormy Daniels, Playmate Karen McDougal) and nearly a dozen allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct. The historical contrasts are jarring, as then U.S. Rep. Mike Pence told the Family Research Council in 2010, “Wemust not remain silent when great moral battles are being waged. Those who would have us ignore the battle being fought over life, marriage, and religious liberty have forgotten the lessons of history.” As church attendance plummets, Protestant and Catholic Christians may be at a crossroads, with corruption and malfeasance gripping its leadership.

2. Rudd planning statewide broadband conference

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch tapped Nashville Town Manager Scott Rudd to head up the state’s Broadband Opportunities Office. Rudd was the driving force behind the Brown County Broadband Task Force (of which this writer is a member) and that group has secured more than $20 million in investments, connecting 7,500 homes and businesses while Brown County and Nashville were the first county/seat tandem to receive the IEDC’s Broadband Ready designation. Rudd wants to replicate those successes statewide. He plans a “broadband summit” this fall, similar to one convened by then Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann in 2013. “Hoosiers across the state deserve access to high-speed, reliable and affordable broadband, and I’m ready to get to work,” said Rudd.

3. 22 Hoosier Women Forward

Two decades after Republicans launched the Lugar Series, Indiana Democrats now have their first class of 22 women  joining the Hoosier Women’s Forward inaugural class. The design is similar to the Lugar Series, which is to give influential women tools to run campaigns and seek higher office. The class includes attorneys, city clerks and controllers, nurses and prosecutors, educators, county commissioners and a mayoral chief of staff. “Selecting this class was no easy task for our board of directors,” said HWF Board Chair Liane Hulka. “We’re so grateful to everyone who applied and humbled by their desire to make a positive impact on Indiana’s communities.”

4. Backyard hoops and bees

We used to occasionally ask politicians, “What do you think about when you mow your lawn?” Vice President Mike Pence took that so seriously as governor that groundskeepers kept a hairy patch at the GovRes so he could jump on the John Deere and do some serious pondering. We now learn thatSecond Lady Karen Pence has a beekeeper operation at the Naval Observatory. “The bees are doing great,” Mrs. Pence told CNN. And Gov. Eric Holcomb opened a new basketball court at the Governor’s Residence on Saturday. Holcomb talked of walking First Dog Henry and surveying a Penceian swath of new mown hay. “As the story goes,” Holcomb said, “When I was back here, every time I would walk Henry, I would hear, ‘If you build it, they will come.’” 
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    INDIANAPOLIS – It’s Omarosa week! And guess what? That’s right. I’ve got an Omarosa story. It’s not a great story. Sort of interesting but could be more interesting if I exaggerate. It might have a point to it, but I’m not yet sure if it will. It all started during the Trump 2016 campaign. It ended on Inauguration Day. As you may remember, Rex Early was our Indiana chairman and I was the vice chair. We were volunteers in those roles. Too bad Rex doesn’t really have anything to do with this story, because it would probably be an awesome tale if Rex and Omarosa had met. What a slugfest that would have been. What most people don’t know is that after the national convention in early August, I was also brought onto the paid staff as the communications director for Indiana. The national campaign had 18 states with paid comms directors, and because I had been the point person with the media up until then, they decided to pay me for it. Back to my Omarosa story. As the communications director, I got to be on calls with the national communications team at 7 a.m., then on another call with the other state comms folks and our director at 8 a.m. and then could listen in on a surrogate call at noon. This was all fascinating as I was listening to folks like Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway and Katrina Pierson. Even Bobby Knight was once on a call. And yes, Omarosa. That was crazy to me because it was Omarosa. She was nuts. I used to watch “The Apprentice,” so I knew she was crazy. What was she doing on these calls?
    MUNCIE – The United States is close to 40 years into the “War on Drugs.” What began as a campaign of good intentions has become among the most costly policy failures of the last 150 years. We seem unwilling or unable to grapple with the immense consequences, or indeed even fully appreciate the depth, of the problem. Before I explain the issue and discuss some reasonable alternatives, I wish to make clear my personal feelings about illegal drug use. I am about as anti-drug as a Baby Boomer can possible be, and personally view much addiction and even casual use as at least partially a moral failing. Coming of age in the 1970s, even casual marijuana use could disqualify someone from military service, so I steered clear of drugs. Later, as a young officer in an army hospital, I witnessed the seductiveness of intravenous opioids, and saw plenty of soldiers ruin their lives with drug convictions.  Finally, I came to see the havoc American demand for drugs played on the economies and societies in the Middle East and South America. Illegal drug use is a scourge, and it imposes great harm on the most vulnerable citizens of the world, here and abroad. I am not an apologist for illicit drug use, but see that we need another approach. 
    MERRILLVILLE –  It has been 51 years since Richard G. Hatcher was elected mayor of Gary. He, along with Carl Stokes of Cleveland, will always be remembered as the first two black mayors of a major U.S. city. Since his election, the city has fallen on hard times. The population has plummeted and the crime rate has soared. Unemployment is high and young black men have a difficult time finding their way. Ragen Hatcher, the former mayor’s daughter, may be about to establish her own legacy. At the Gary City Council meeting a week ago, Ragen Hatcher announced that she will seek to decriminalize marijuana within the city limits. As a former prosecutor in Gary City Court, Ragen Hatcher has seen what marijuana has done to young black men. She said that many of the cases she handled involved possession of marijuana. “That gave 18-, 19-, 21-year-olds their first criminal conviction, very young. And that follows you throughout your life,” Ragen Hatcher said.
    LaPORTE – Rather than being diverted with esoteric debates about how many trillions of tax dollars a “Medicare for All” plan would entail, doesn’t it make more sense to see what can be done about protecting the Affordable Care Act from attacks and getting to universal coverage in other ways? While advocates of Medicare for All are certainly well-intentioned, undue attention is being paid to plans such as that which have little to no chance of passage by this Congress or any other in the near future. When one considers that the Affordable Care Act passed with just one vote to spare and is now under unceasing attack on multiple fronts including by our own Indiana attorney general, it would seem a more productive use of time and political capital to protect what has already been gained. With 400,000 additional Hoosiers are now covered under HIP 2.0 that was made possible by the Medicaid expansion of ACA, why jeopardize that by allowing critics to assail Medicare for All? Why not fight to protect the ACA with its pre-existing conditions protections and better coverage for those with serious and chronic conditions?
    SOUTH BEND – Sen. Joe Donnelly believes in campaigning. The old style of campaigning. What he calls a “grind it out” style. Meeting voters here, there, everywhere, all over the state. That’s why, during the Senate recess, the politically endangered Democrat traveled to every corner of the state and in the middle, too, on a seven-day tour that ended Thursday. Donnelly said in an interview that he found health care the No. 1 issue with Hoosiers, with strong support for the Affordable Care Act provision for insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, especially for children. And of course he reminded voters everywhere, as he did at an event in LaPorte Wednesday night, that he cast a crucial vote to keep Senate Republicans from repealing that provision along with other parts of the health care law.
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  • HPI Interview: Sen. Merritt on his challenge to Mayor Hogsett

    INDIANAPOLIS – As for 2019 municipal races, it’s getting late and Mayor Joe Hogsett appears to be conflicted on a reelection bid. On the Republican side, State Sen. Jim Merritt is deep in the process and preparing for a challenge. Merritt is up for reelection, facing Democrat Derek Camp in SD31, where he is a prohibitive favorite to win an eighth term after joining the chamber in 1990. He is majority caucus chair and heads the Senate Utilities Committee. Merritt is a fraternity brother of Hogsett, graduating from Indiana University in 1981, three years after the mayor graduated. Both ran cross country at IU. We sat down with Merritt, who is also the Marion County Republican Party chairman, to talk about the prospects of a challenge to Hogsett or another Democrat such as Councilman Vop Osili at the HPI offices on Massachusetts Avenue on Tuesday afternoon.
  • Atomic! Indiana's Bayh twins; IN CD races MIA; jarring arrests
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Service and the Bayh twins: Here is your mid-day update since you received your HPI Daily Wire: Should U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly lose in November, and he’s in a pure tossup race, so that’s a 50/50 proposition, and Indiana Democrats don’t make the significant gains in the Statehouse (currently we think they have a shot at picking up three Senate seats and maybe five or six in the House), we’d be looking at, essentially, a one-party state. In that nightmare scenario, with SouthBend Mayor Pete Buttigieg going nationwide and other mayors uninterested in trading City Hall for the Statehouse, it might be a couple of election cycles before the Bayh twins, Nick and Beau, emerge as the new generation of party leadershipThe IndyStar  reports that on Aug. 26, they will join the military, taking their oaths at the Indiana War Memorial. Beau is joining the Marines to be a combat infantry officer, Nick headed for Army intel. "Their home station will be Indiana," former senator and governor Evan Bayh said. "It's where they were born."
  • Horse Race: Delph's challenge with suburban women

    ZIONSVILLE – The numbers sending shock waves through the Statehouse come from SD29, where Democratic challenger J.D. Ford apparently has nearly a 10% lead over State Sen. Mike Delph. Matt Zapfe of the Senate Majority Caucus wouldn’t confirm numbers published at two other sites, though that caucus was apparently the source of the numbers. IndyPolitics had Ford leading 45-35%. An internal Democratic poll conducted on Ford’s behalf had him leading 53-44%. Among those voters who say they are “almost certain” to turn out, Ford’s lead expands to 55-42%. When HPI talked to Republican Majority Caucus Chairman Jim Merritt, who also heads the Marion County GOP, and referenced the numbers showing Delph trailing, he acknowledged that the Carmel Republican is facing a real challenge. Delph told HPI Wednesday, “Please send me the poll you are referencing with cross-tabs and I will be happy to respond accordingly.”

  • Brian Howey: Enemies and patriots

    NASHVILLE, Ind. – There was a packet leaning up against my condo door in late spring 2016. Left by Deputy Chief of Staff Matt Lloyd, it was a note from Gov. Mike Pence with a copy of SEA80 and the signing pen he used a few months before. The note from Pence read, “Thanks for your work on this.” It would be the last communication between the Indiana governor destined for the vice presidency and this Hoosier journalist. Pence’s assessment, though, was observant and relevant. Between 2014 and 2016, Howey Politics Indiana and reporting by myself and Matthew Butler searched for answers on how to deal with the clandestine methamphetamine labs that numbered close to 1,400 per year. They were contaminating homes, motel rooms and vehicles. There were hundreds of children in these hovels exposed to toxic chemicals, and public safety and code officials were facing injury.

  • Horse Race: Donnelly meets with Judge Kavanaugh

    INDIANAPOLIS  – Even before U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly spent an hour with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Wednesday, pressure mounted for him to make a decision on the confirmation vote. Donnelly said of the meeting, “I had a wide-ranging conversation and productive meeting with Judge Kavanaugh. This was an important opportunity to sit down and talk in-depth with Judge Kavanaugh about his record; experience working in the Bush Administration and serving on the federal bench; and views on the role of the Supreme Court as well as on a range of issues including precedent, health care, and judicial independence.”
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  • Lawson announces election security awareness campaign

    “In Indiana, the security of our voting systems is of the utmost importance. This public awareness campaign demonstrates to voters that proper precautions are in place to secure their vote. We take great care to prepare our election administrators for each cycle, and in partnership with counties, other states, and the federal government we are developing new answers to security concerns and election policy.” - Secretary of State Connie Lawson, announcing she will launch a public awareness campaign to build understanding of cybersecurity efforts in Indiana and help explain why voters should feel confident their vote is secure. Her Democratic challenger, Valparaiso attorney Jim Harper, believes the Indiana system is vulnerable to assault by foreign actors. Lawson explained that no piece of Indiana’s voting equipment is online. The machines and tabulators are not connected to the internet. In addition, the Secretary of State’s office has a mechanism known as the Voting System Technical Oversight Program hosted by Ball State University that tests all of the election equipment used in Indiana for an added layer of safety and security. Another tool is the Election Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center, an independent entity that partners with the Department of Homeland Security and allows 24/7 access to security information, threat notifications and security advisories.

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  • What you get with TV stars, sleazebags, billionaires and Mooch
    After reading about the Paul Manafort trial, hearing of Rick Gates testimony and now the “Unhinged” book by Omarosa Manigault Newman, several observations:

    1. The Trump 2016 campaign was, well, sleazy. Not the Indiana part, but all the alleged tax evasion, the embezzlement, backstabbing and conspiracy of Manafort and Gates. Donald Trump apparently had no idea that Manafort was broke, seeking wild bank loans and promising high ranking jobs if they pulled off a miracle (which they did). The campaign vetting process appears to have been non-existent.

    2. Omarosa’s qualifications were … what? That she was a TV star on “The Apprentice”? Or was she there to check off the “African-American” box on the diversity chart? Whatever the reason, this was resume-lite and she had no reason to be in the White House where she secretly recorded her final conversation with CoS John Kelly in the … Situation Room. That sounds like a national security breach to me.

    3. This has evolved into a presidential administration of TV stars, talking heads, billionaires … and Mike Pence. Mooch, we hardly knew ye.

    Sooooo, we shouldn’t really be shocked that the ethic limits are pressed and pushed, while protocols and securities are breached.
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher.
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