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A muse at the Odessa Opera Theater, pictured during sieges of 1941 and this past week; President Putin "meets" with his ministers; Commissar Khrushchev after Odessa was liberated in 1941; U.S. Rep. Spartz at Babi Yar Monument in January, and the site following a TV tower bombing last week.
A muse at the Odessa Opera Theater, pictured during sieges of 1941 and this past week; President Putin "meets" with his ministers; Commissar Khrushchev after Odessa was liberated in 1941; U.S. Rep. Spartz at Babi Yar Monument in January, and the site following a TV tower bombing last week.
Saturday, March 5, 2022 10:07 AM

INDIANAPOLIS – There are photos that once seen, will haunt one's soul in the context of this genocidal Russian invasion of Ukraine. The first was Russian dictator Vladimir Putin “meeting” with the ministers of his government. Putin sits at one end of a very long table; his minister clustered at the other end, 40 feet away. This is a leader detached from reality, his 190,000 invasion force bogged down, with cruise missiles and cluster bombs strafing an array of civilian targets. Another is of U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz laying a wreath at the base of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial in Kyiv when she visited the doomed capital in late January. On Tuesday, a Russian missile hit a nearby TV tower, killing at least five people. NBC News showed footage of emergency officials using fire extinguishers to tamp the flames on smoldering corpses. "To the world: what is the point of saying 'never again' for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar? At least 5 killed. History repeating…," Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote in a tweet. This prompted Rep. Spartz to say of her native country, “This is not a war. This is genocide of the Ukrainian people by a crazy man who cannot get over that the Ukrainian people do not want socialism, Soviet Union, or Communists. They want to be free people. They want to be with the West.”


  • WASHINGTON - For a delegation that easily logs more than a million highway miles every year, Wednesday's news of the death of U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski and staffers Zachery Potts and Emma Thomson was a staggering, drop-to-your-knees moment of shock and then overwhelming grief. Lee Hamilton once told me it could take him five-hours to cross the old sprawling 9th CD. Highway and air travel are a fact of life for members of Congress. A typical day in a district is a member scheduled with five, seven, eight events, meeting with farmers, mayors, business folks, with hundreds of miles logged, with grueling days sometimes stretching to 12 to 14 hours, from dawn 'til dusk. Any congressional staffer of much tenure has stories about flying into a headwind as a turbulent cold front approaches, or dodging deer on a late night return to office. "You spend this time on the road working, telling stories and laughing - and the days can be long," said former Indiana Democratic chairman John Zody, a former staffer to U.S. Baron Hill. "These trips, the people you meet on them in our communities and the memories you make become a part of you and the work you do - and always stay with you." It's a testament to staffers that the Walorski tragedy doesn't happen more often. That 27-year-old Zach Potts, the St. Joseph County Republican chair, and 28-year-old Thomson who served as her Washington-based communications director, were killed just deepens this tragedy. In the television age of Indiana politics, we've had U.S. Rep. Adam Benjamin die of a heart attack, U.S. Rep. Julia Carson of cancer, and we've had a couple of near misses, including Sen. Birch Bayh surviving a plane crash that severely injured U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy. But for the tens of millions of flown and driven miles, Jackie Walorski's death was rare for Indiana's congressional class.


    TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - This week, 150 Hoosier legislators, including 110 men, will convene in special session to determine the most restrictive abortion laws in state history that stand to change the lives of thousands of women. Attorney General Todd Rokita and Terre Haute attorney Jim Bopp Jr., had dominated the post-Roe era semantics leading up to the July 25 special session. Rokita fired off wild allegations against a female OB-gyn who performed a legal abortion on a 10-year-old Ohio girl who had been raped, vowing he would “not relent” until finding “the truth.” IU Health said that Dr. Caitlin Bernard had followed all Indiana laws. “It’s always shocking to me that people are surprised to hear about these stories,” Dr. Bernard said in an interview with The New York Times. “The fact that anyone would question such a story is a testament to how out of touch lawmakers and politicians are with reality.” Bopp, who helped the National Right to Life Committee develop “model” abortion restriction legislation, told Politico on Thursday, “We don’t think, as heart wrenching as those circumstances are, we don’t think we should devalue the life of the baby because of the sins of the father.” Gov. Eric Holcomb, House Speaker Todd Huston and Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray will play key roles in passing and signing these abortion restrictions, with Holcomb drawing back from his “no red lines” stance on what he wouldn’t sign. All of this comes in Indiana, a patriarchal state. We’ve never elected a female governor or U.S. senator.

  • ANGOLA, Ind.  With the Indiana General Assembly and Gov. Eric Holcomb on the precipice of historic abortion restrictions in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court rendering Roe v. Wade moot with its Dobbs ruling, the architect of what happens beyond July 25 will likely be Terre Haute attorney James Bopp Jr. Asked if he is currently advising General Assembly Republicans and Gov. Holcomb, Bopp told Howey Politics Indiana that he “wasn’t at liberty to say.” A week before the U.S. Supreme Court Dobbs ruling, the National Right to Life Committee released what is called “model” legislation that Bopp helped develop as special counsel. In early July, the Indiana Right to Life endorsed this model. Bopp said the model offers “the best opportunity to protect the unborn, adding, “It is important that such states not only prohibit illegal abortions, but also employ a robust enforcement regime, so that these laws are sure to be enforced. Our model law does just that.” Bopp described his call for the only abortion exception would be to save the life of the mother. “I think we are morally obligated to perform abortions to save the life of the mother. So this isn’t a reluctant thing in my mind, it’s a necessary thing,” he said. “All of this fanciful talk that you just described is obviously not true because we had 150 years of history in our country, before 1973, in which abortion was always allowed for the life of the mother.”

  • INDIANAPOLIS - Two days before the Indiana Republican Convention gathered, we heard conservative retired federal Judge J. Michael Luttig tell the U.S. House Jan. 6 Select Committee what would have happened if Vice President Mike Pence had done President Trump’s bidding in overturning the 2020 election. It would have been a “revolution within a constitutional crisis.” Three days after Hoosier Republicans convened, we heard Republican Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers recall the pressure from Rudy Giuliani to throw out the people’s will and, instead, opt for illegal “contingent electors” to reinstall Trump despite losing the popular vote to Joe Biden by 7 million, as well as the Electoral College 306-232. Bowers said Giuliani told him, “We’ve got lots of theories; we just don’t have the evidence.” And Republican Georgia Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger described the soundbite of the century from Trump (“I just want to find 11,780 votes” and “give me a break”) and Trump’s twisted description of non-existent fraud and 5,000 dead people voting. The actual number was four, Raffensperger said. “That’s one, two, three, four people – not 4,000. But just a total of four, not 10,000, not 5,000.” On June 18, Hoosier Republicans voted on a second ballot to nominate Diego Morales over incumbent Sec. Holli Sullivan. There had been an Associated Press report in which he had referred to the 2020 presidential election as a “scam.” The Morales campaign texted this, “I proudly voted for Trump twice, but Joe Biden was elected president in 2020 and legitimately occupies that office today. There were a number of irregularities in that election. Those kinds of actions are unacceptable." But in a March 8 article appearing on the website “Hoosier State Today,” Morales describes “deep skepticism regarding the accuracy of the 2020 presidential election. Let me make my own position on 2020 crystal clear: The 2020 election was flawed and the outcome is questionable.”

    INDIANAPOLIS – Call it Mitch envy. Shortly after the university announced earlier this month he was stepping away from the job he truly loved for the past decade, Purdue President Mitch Daniels’s various text, email and phone inboxes began filling up. Hoosiers were urging Daniels to run for governor, for president, for mayor of Carmel or Indianapolis. When “Based in Lafayette” journalist Dave Bangert asked the former Indiana governor about his prospects, Daniels responded, “I don’t have any right now.” The key phase was “right now.” Knowing Mitch Daniels, it’s hard not to think that as he told the Purdue trustees earlier this spring that the “Daniels Decade” was coming to an end, he didn’t have  a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C developing inside the man that Washington Post columnist George Will described at the 2011 CPAC as “never has there been a higher ratio between mind and mass. Daniels had intricately mapped out two terms as governor before taking the oath, and then created the Purdue landing spot once his term ended in 2013.

  • INDIANAPOLIS - Diego Morales has probably attended more Indiana Republican Lincoln Dinners than any living human being, a process he began in 2006. His campaign Facebook page is full of "I had a great time in DeKalb County ... Floyd County ... Elkhart County." He is one of four Republicans running for secretary of state, needing to convince a little more than 900 of 1,800 delegates at June 18 state convention that he would be better than incumbent Holli Sullivan, who is seeking a nomination for a full term after she was appointed to succeed the retiring Connie Lawson. He also faces Knox County Clerk Dave Shelton and former Libertarian Paul Hager. At the end of nearly every Facebook travelogue, Morales declares, "My #1 priority is Election Integrity!" According to an Associated Press article, Morales believes the 2020 presidential election was a "scam." His campaign says that he was misquoted, but when I asked for an interview to talk about why he believes Joe Biden was fraudulently elected over Donald Trump despite getting 8 million more votes, he demurred. His campaign texted this statement from Morales: "I proudly voted for Trump twice, but Joe Biden was elected president in 2020 and legitimately occupies that office today. He is doing a horrible job. There were a number of irregularities in that election, including the secretary of state in Pennsylvania changing election rules only 30 days before election day. Those kinds of actions are unacceptable. I am running for secretary of state to ensure that Hoosiers can trust their vote will be counted."


  • WASHINGTON - "Every teacher you know has thought about it. Every teacher you know has a plan for an active shooter. Every teacher you know has weighed their point of fight or flight. Every teacher you know has walked their room looking for blind spots. Every teacher you know has passed their classroom to see what it looks like from the outside ... "Every teacher you know has wondered how fast they can lock a door." This was an internet posting by a teacher I know in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas, massacre that claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers. And this is where we're at as a culture, with a massive slice of the electorate backing what President Biden heard last Sunday in Uvalde ("Do something!") while the fringes of the political spectrum dig in on their status quos that range from calling for reforms and assault weapon bans to hardening buildings, arming teachers and blaming a “mental health” dilemma. First of all, is this a national crisis? According to Education Week, there have been 27 school shootings this year, which is about halfway through the traditional school year. There have been 119 school shootings since 2018, when Education Week began tracking such incidents. The highest number of shootings, 34, occurred in 2021. There were 10 shootings in 2020, and 24 each in 2019 and 2018. In the 27 school shootings this year, 83 people have been killed or injured in a school shooting, while 56 people have been injured.

  • Brian Howey: Atrocity in America

    INDIANAPOLIS – Merriam-Webster defines "atrocity" as "a shockingly bad or atrocious act, object, or situation." In a different era, the word "atrocity" was used mostly in wartime situations, be it Babyn Yar in Kyiv, the Katyn Forest massacre in Poland, the Andersonville Prison during the American Civil War, or My Lai in Vietnam. But since 1999 following the first modern mass school shooting at Columbine HS, I've been using words like "atrocity" and "massacre" to describe everyday American places: Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, the Pulse night club in Orlando, the FedEx facility here in Indy, Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, and now Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. America, obviously, has a gun problem, as well as a mental health dilemma. School massacres have gone from about 25 annually in 2000 to 236 in 2021 and more than 135 so far this year. Since the pandemic hit in 2020, Americans have bought 40 million guns. Pew Research reports that the U.S. murder rate rose 30% between 2019 and 2020 – the largest single-year increase in more than a century, according to data published this month by the CDC. There were 7.8 homicides for every 100,000 people in the United States in 2020, up from six homicides per 100,000 people the year before. According to the FBI, there were 21,570 murders last year, up 29% from 16,669 in 2019 and the highest annual total since 1995. A majority of the of these school rampages were done with AR-15, a gun designed for military combat. The 18-year-old Uvalde terrorist legally purchased two AR-15s, though he wasn't old enough to buy a beer.


  • INDIANAPOLIS – When the Indiana General Assembly reconvenes on Tuesday for "Technical Corrections Day" it will almost certainly override Gov. Eric Holcomb's veto of HEA1041, the transgender sports bill. But the subplot will be the looming U.S. Supreme Court decision of the Dobbs case, which is expected to repeal Roe v. Wade. The U.S. Supreme Court voted 7-2 in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion, Republican Lt. Gov. Robert Orr had been a contributor to Planned Parenthood. When a young Republican named Mike Pence first ran for Congress in 1988, the abortion issue wasn’t a campaign hallmark. As the nation grappled with the fallout of Roe, it was Northeastern Catholics who mounted the initial vanguard against legalized abortion. After the 1994 Republican Revolution, the pro-life bulwark shifted to the South and Midwest, helping to create the red center of the nation, while the coasts (along with Illinois and Colorado) became blue. In the 1990s in the Indiana General Assembly, Republican House Speaker Paul Mannweiler and Senate President Pro Tem Robert Garton were pro-choice, while Democrat House Speaker John Gregg was pro-life. How far will super majority Republicans go? Will they ditch the carve outs that would allow abortion in the case of rape, incest or the endangerment of the life of the mother? Here’s a clue: In an op-ed published in the Richmond Palladium-Item, State Sen. Jeff Raatz said he will support "any" bill that restricts abortion. 

  • INDIANAPOLIS - This "trend" bubbled up in the homestretch leading into the May 3 Indiana primary in several media quarters: A slate of "Liberty Defense" candidates was poised to pull the Republican House and Senate super majorities even further to the right. Liberty Defense, based in Bluffton, was formed to confront Gov. Eric Holcomb's pandemic mandates and to preserve "your freedoms and traditional family values. Our firm conservative stance is held tight to a no-compromise view on the issues of the sanctity of life, the 2nd Amendment, and religious freedom." But there was no anti-incumbency trend in the May 3 primary. Five General Assembly incumbents lost, but three (State Reps. Curt Nisly, Jeff Ellington and State Sen. Kevin Boehnlein) fell victim to other incumbent legislators after they were drawn into the same districts with the new. With the defeat of Reps. John Jacob and Nisly, who were championed by Liberty Defense, two major headaches of Speaker Todd Huston are now gone. As for the challenges by the Liberty Defense organization in 25 House races, only four on its list won and three of them – State Rep. Bruce Borders, State Sen. Gary Byrne and Wabash County Councilman Lorissa Sweet – had already won multiple elections. Of these 21 Liberty Defense races where endorsed candidates lost, none were close to matching Howey Politics Indiana’s 7% threshold that would suggest a potential breakthrough in the 2024 cycle.

  • INDIANAPOLIS - On Monday, Politico broke the story of a leaked SCOTUS draft opinion that had by a 5-4 margin the termination of Roe v. Wade which has legalized abortion over the past 49 years. “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled," wrote Justice Samuel Alito. "It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives. Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.” When the Dobbs case out of Mississippi is announced in late June or early July, Gov. Eric Holcomb will almost certainly call a special session of the General Assembly and Indiana is expected become one of 26 states to outright ban abortions. This will likely preclude the traditional carve outs that had allowed abortion in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother is in peril. The outright outlawing of all abortion will bring more children into our state. I was curious about how the children already with us are doing, so I read the 2022 Kids Count Data Book published by the Indiana Youth Institute. Indiana is home to the 14th largest population of children nationally, with more than 1.57 million children younger than 18 residing, including 51% who were males and 49% females. According to the Indiana Department of Health, the number of abortions in Indiana grew by 119, or 1.6%, to 7,756 during 2020. That increased number remained below the some 8,000 performed in 2018, Indiana’s highest number since 2014.

  • INDIANAPOLIS – When the 2012 gubernatorial debate turned to the topic of marijuana reform, Libertarian nominee Rupert Boneham decried decades of prohibition that resulted in the jailing of about 10,000 Hoosiers a year. “It’s a plant,” he said as Republican Mike Pence and Democrat John Gregg looked on. “It’s a plant." A few weeks later, Indiana State Police Supt. Paul Whitesell made this startling personal observation before the State Budget Committee: "It's here, it's going to stay, there's an awful lot of victimization that goes with it. If it were up to me, I do believe I would legalize it and tax it, particularly in sight of the fact that several other states have now come to that part of their legal system as well." A decade later – on Wednesday 4/20 – Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians gathered at an American Legion post on 54th Street all advocating marijuana reform, noting that it is legal in some form in 37 states, including Illinois and Michigan. It was the most conspicuous and across-the-spectrum demonstration of support ... ever … for ending reefer madness that fills our jails and denies medicinal pot to those in pain. Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Thomas McDermott Jr., secretary of state candidate and military veteran Destiny Scott Wells, Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears, former Republican state senator and future gubernatorial candidate Jim Merritt, and Libertarian Chairman Evan McMahon gathered amongst American military veterans to advocate for this “plant” that is keeping many of them off opioids.

  • INDIANAPOLIS – Word out across the Hoosier prairie these days is that many House Republicans are angered about Gov. Eric Holcomb’s veto of the transgender athletic bill last month. That was demonstrated not only by critical statements of legislators, but also three members of the Indiana congressional delegation as well as Attorney General Todd Rokita. “Girls’ sports should be for girls, and allowing biological males to compete with them robs female athletes of a chance to compete and win,” said Sen. Mike Braun, who is considering a run for governor in 2024. “I’m disappointed Gov. Holcomb vetoed a bill to make this law in Indiana, and I support a veto override to protect women’s athletics. Another potential candidate, Rep. Jim Banks, added, “I’m disappointed with Gov. Holcomb’s veto of a common sense bill that frankly doesn’t go far enough to save women’s pports. My hope is that the Indiana General Assembly will meet soon to override the veto and send a message to the rest of the nation that Indiana values women.” The General Assembly’s super majority Republican caucuses are expected to easily override that veto during technical corrections day on May 24. But the more telling day on where the GOP stands could be June 18 at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis when the Republican Party State Convention convenes.

  • INDIANAPOLIS - There is palpable emotion when American leaders approach the Ukrainian border these days. It’s what is to be expected when they meet with some of the four million people who have fled Vladimir Putin’s genocidal war that has sent 50% of this nation’s children in refugee status, with most of their fathers and many of their mothers returning to fight the Russians. President Biden was so moved after visiting the Polish/Ukraine border last weekend he said that Putin "cannot remain in power," evoking President Reagan's calling out of the Soviet Union as an "evil empire" a generation ago. “The fact of the matter is I was expressing the moral outrage I felt toward the way Putin is dealing and the actions of this man, which is just brutality.” Biden said. It was "the kind of behavior that makes the whole world say, 'My God, what is this man doing?'" Gov. Eric Holcomb met with Ukrainian refugees in Slovakia on Monday. "The inspiring observation I’ve made is Ukrainians are made of steel," Holcomb told me in a Zoom interview on Wednesday. "Their resolve is second to none and I just want to export this Hoosier hospitality that we’re known for and provide resources as we have the capacity to do so. They are living through their greatest hour of need.  "The world is taking note on who is lining up behind whom," Holcomb added. "I just want to make sure that it’s as blunt as this: Ukrainian blood cannot be worth less than Russian oil and perpetuate the Russian war machine. One thing is clear today, the bear is not hibernating any longer. The bear is out, gobbling up, engulfing and devouring and needs to be stopped."

  • INDIANAPOLIS – Are you running for governor in 2024? That was the question I had for U.S. Rep. Jim Banks as we had coffee Monday afternoon. Just hours earlier, two Indiana reporters had suggested that U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth was the “frontrunner” for this open seat. “I haven’t ruled anything out,” Banks responded. “I will say candidly we’re watching closely what Mike Braun does. If Mike Braun runs for governor, we’ll look at the Senate race. Whatever Mike Braun does creates a dominoes effect in a lot of directions.” Less than 24 hours later, Sen. Braun had what could be called a “Richard Mourdock moment” when he suggested that Roe v. Wade should really be determined by the states in a Zoom call with reporters. NWI Times reporter Dan Carden asked him if interracial marriage should also be determined by the states instead of by the U.S. Supreme Court. “This should be something where the expression of individual states are able to weigh in on these issues through their own legislation, through their own court systems. Quit trying to put the federal government in charge,” Braun said. That response drew the kind of criticism that Mourdock's 2012 U.S. Senate debate blunder on rape and abortion led to Democrat Joe Donnelly's upset victory a few weeks later. Braun quickly attempted to walk that back, saying, “I misunderstood a line of questioning that ended up being about interracial marriage. Let me be clear on that issue – there is no question the Constitution prohibits discrimination of any kind based on race, that is not something that is even up for debate, and I condemn racism in any form, at all levels and by any states, entities, or individuals.”

  • INDIANAPOLIS – The Russian invasion of Ukraine has once more brought journalists to the front lines, in Kyiv, Odessa, and even Moscow. Freelancer Brent Renaud, Fox News videographer Pierre Zakrzewski and Fox News consultant Oleksandra “Sasha” Kuvshynova were killed by snipers and shells, while Fox correspondent Benjamin Hall was injured. And in the belly of the beast, a television producer named Marina Ovsyannikova burst onto a live broadcast Monday on the Kremlin’s Channel 1, holding a sign reading “Stop the war! They’re lying to you here.” It was witnessed by millions of Russian viewers. She was quickly arrested, fined about $300 after a court appearance on Tuesday, but faces 15 years in prison for this act of civil disobedience.

  • INDIANAPOLIS – About every 80 years since the American Revolution began in 1776, there have been decisive pivot points or cataclysms in history. It was followed by the Civil War eight decades later. There were a cluster of pivot points in the first half of the 20th Century, including the Great Depression (1929), President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal (1933), the commencement of World War II (1939), culminating with the arrival of the nuclear age in 1945 that established two Cold War super powers. Are we about to enter the fourth cataclysm of the American experience eight decades after World War II? Over the past five years, Americans have witnessed the greatest upset in American presidential politics with Donald Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton, a pandemic that killed 1 million Americans and 22,000 Hoosiers after causing a series of societal lockdowns, the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection that occurred with the collapse of the Trump presidency, and now despot Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. That has the potential to spark the first nuclear war of the 21st Century, or, perhaps, the collapse of the Putin dictatorship. Two quotes seem appropriate. American Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers said, “Every revolution seems impossible at the beginning, and after it happens, it was inevitable.”  And Soviet Union founder Vladimir Ilyich Lenin observed, “There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen.” Lenin’s observation had an echo of truth these past two weeks with Vladimir Putin’s disastrous invasion of Ukraine, and the corresponding coalescing of the Western/NATO alliance into the most severe sanctions ever wrought on one pariah state.

  • INDIANAPOLIS – The post-Cold War era has essentially ended now that Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine, an independent, democratic nation, on Wednesday. Europe is now experiencing its first fighter jet-to-fighter jet, tank-to-tank military invasion since World War II. There is speculation a full-style incursion could end tens of thousands of lives, and generate a brutal counter-insurgency. Why should Hoosiers care about a war in a faraway place? First, Putin appears to be detached from reality and on the course of a war criminal. Tom Nichols of The Atlantic writes of the kleptocratic dictator after he addressed the world on Monday: "Putin’s slumped posture and deadened affect led me to suspect that he is not as stable as we would hope." Carl Bildt of European Council on Foreign Relations, added, “If I compare with his speech in March 2014 when he annexed Crimea, this was far more rambling, all-over-the-place and unhinged. And also more dangerous. Now he questions the very existence of Ukraine as a nation. It’s a man with immense power who’s lost contact with reality.” Putin blamed the events that led to an independent Ukraine on Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev and when he announced the invasion Wednesday night, he talked of eliminating phantom “Nazis” from this neighboring state. It was chilling.



    KEY WEST – Here's a pop quiz: What do Richard Lugar, Joe Donnelly, Mike Braun, and Todd Huston have in common? Early in their public service careers, they served on local or parochial school boards. This is notable because there is legislation in the Indiana General Assembly - House Bill 1182 - that will politicize school board races, which are currently run on a non-partisan basis. “I think you can tell the difference between financial responsibility and moral character,” said State Rep. J.D. Prescott, R-Union City, who is sponsoring the bill. “Having that on the ballot will help tell voters a little bit more about the candidate.” Newly-elected Hamilton County Republican Chairman Mario Massillamany, explained, “We will get involved in school board races. The Democrats have been running candidates the last six to eight years because they are non-partisan races. They help candidates behind the scenes. Those days are over.” And there's House Bill 1134 that would require teachers to post an outline of classroom curriculum materials by Aug. 1 annually, including textbooks, articles and surveys teachers plan to incorporate, as well as course syllabi. This is the so-called "critical race theory" legislation that became du jour in conservative politics this past year.


  • KEY WEST – For U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz, the poised Russian invasion of her native Ukraine is, well, personal. The Soviet Union collectivized her grandfather’s farm. “They came and took his land, they came and took his house,” Spartz told Howey Politics Indiana on Monday, just days after she returned from a CODEL to Brussels and Kyiv. “The Bolsheviks took his land. He never wanted to join the Communist Party. He worked for a while on the collective farm. They tried to force him and he never got over that. They sent him to Siberia for some time. A lot of Ukrainians died.” Born Victoria Kulheyko in Nosivka, Chernihiv Oblast, she immigrated to the U.S. in 2000 after marrying her husband, Jason Spartz. While she had returned to Ukraine to visit elderly relatives since then, she said she was surprised at the changes she saw in Ukraine earlier this month. “I’ll be honest with you, I was shocked at how the Ukrainian people have changed,” Spartz said. “I grew up near the Ukraine/Belorussian border, in the region just north of Kyiv. People were pretty friendly with Russia. People thought of the old Soviet times and wanted to go back. There was talk of democracy, but people deliberated and debated. I was shocked how people changed and became very pro-American.” Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, travel restrictions have liberalized. “I think a lot of them traveled around Europe for jobs,” Spartz said. “They have been at war for seven years now and 60,000 of them have died. A lot of them have been born after the Soviet Union. They were born in Ukraine, and now you have this Russian aggression, trying to take your territory and a lot of young people are dying. There is a large percentage of the population that do not want to be suppressed. That could be a big problem for Putin.”
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  • Brooks excoriates Rokita over child rape case
    "We are confident of Americans’ ability to work through the issue of abortion now that the Supreme Court has returned it to the democratic process. But it’s crucial for law enforcement to stay above the partisan fray. A case in Indiana leaves us deeply concerned on that score. Initially, some doubted news reports that a 10-year- old Ohio rape victim had traveled to Indiana for a legal abortion. There were also unsubstantiated claims that the physician who performed the abortion had failed to report the abuse of a child and the abortion performed on a girl under 16, as Indiana law requires. Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita rushed precipitously into this fray. He told Fox News he was investigating the physician and 'was looking at her licensure.' This, after admitting he hadn’t examined evidence that she complied with reporting requirements. Even worse was his inflammatory rhetoric: 'We have this abortion activist acting as a doctor,' he said. Despite the arrest and confession of a defendant in the rape, and news accounts documenting the physician’s timely reporting, Mr. Rokita continues to say publicly that he is investigating her. The justice system’s legitimacy requires that law enforcement be fair, deliberative and ethical. Government investigations should remain confidential unless and until a defendant is charged, with respect for the presumption of innocence and government’s burden of proof. A baseless investigation, if disclosed publicly, causes the target reputational damage, humiliation and loss. We are appalled that, by his own admission, Mr. Rokita announced his investigation before gathering the most basic facts."- Former Indiana congressman and district attorney Susan Brooks and John Tinder, writing in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
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