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Monday, January 20, 2020
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  • Pence, Holcomb, Buttigieg head 2020 HPI Power 50
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY in Indianapolis
    and MARK SCHOEFF JR., 
    in Washington

    As we unveil the 2020 version of the Howey Politics Indiana Power 50 List, Hoosiers appear to be relatively satisfied with their state government, unsure about the federals and specifically President Trump, and are most concerned about health care and the economy.

    These are the latest survey numbers from the We Ask America Poll conducted in early December for the Indiana Manufacturers Association. They accentuate the formulation of our annual Power 50 list headed by Vice President Mike Pence, Gov. Eric Holcomb, former South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg, and the state’s two Republican senators who will likely sit in judgment (and acquittal) of President Trump in an impeachment trial later this month. 

    As Pence appears to be heading off thinly veiled attempts by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to get him off the 2020 ticket, Hoosiers by 47.4% approve to 47.7% disapprove of President Trump’s job performance. This is consistent with 2019 polling by Ball State University and Morning Consult. On the national right/wrong track, just 37% of registered voters in Indiana feel that the country is headed in the right direction, while a majority, 52%, say that things have gotten off on the wrong track, including 51% of independents and 26% of Republicans. Among female voters, the right/wrong track split is 29%/58%.

  • HPI Power 50: Another year of transition as we head into 2020
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  — As we experienced last year with the change in Indiana Senate leadership, the 2020 Howey Politics Indiana Power 50 list is in for some significant revamping. It’s our annual exercise of rating the who’s who in our movers and shakers HPI invites its influential readership to weigh in. Some of you submit full lists. Others will nominate a specific person and reasons for inclusion. We invite both.

    Not only has there been the Indiana House speaker transition from Brian Bosma to Todd Huston, U.S. Reps. Pete Visclosky and Susan Brooks are retiring, there is South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg's rise to national prominence, and Gov. Eric Holcomb’s fiscal team has changed. There are close to 20 new mayors. There is also change in the administration’s opioid crisis team, as well as the Alex Azar/Seema Verma drama within the Trump administration.

    In the coming year, will Vice President Mike Pence remain on the ticket with President Trump and will he play a decisive role to bring Republicans home as he did down the 2016 homestretch? Will Christina Hale turn the once ruby red 5th CD blue? Will Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., get the job switch he has long coveted by winning the 1st CD Democratic nomination.

    Send me your thoughts, or an entire list. We’ll publish our 2020 list on Tuesday, Jan. 7, kicking off what should be a fascinating election year of the best political coverage in Indiana.

  • The tossup 2020 presidential race
    Can President Trump be reelected in 2020? His Real Clear Politics approve/disapprove composite is 43.9%/53.5%, which is 9.6% under water. In Indiana, politicians hovering in the low 40th percentile (i.e. Sens. Richard Lugar in 2012 Republican primary and Joe Donnelly in 2016 general election) lose.

    But in the state polls like the Marquette Law School Poll in Wisconsin, only Joe Biden (47-46%) had an edge over the president in one of the so-called Blue Wall States. Trump tops Bernie Sanders (47-45), Elizabeth Warren (45-44%) and Pete Buttigieg (44-43%).

    When you look at 2020 state-by-state, this looks like a tossup race. Throw in the House impeachment folly (and certain Senate acquittal), and you now understand why President Trump is holding MAGA rallies in places like Hershey, PA, and Grand Rapids, Mich.

    If Democrats veer left and put Sanders or Warren atop the ticket, and leave off someone like Sen. Amy Klobachar, 2020 could find history repeating itself. - Brian A. Howey, publisher.
  • Into the impeachment vortex ...
    Here we go. Where America ends up in early 2020 after the fourth presidential impeachment that got underway this week is anyone's guess. 

    When I wrote the Sept. 19 HPI cover story - "The Double Dog Impeachment Dare"  - the Ukraine quid pro quo scenario was just beginning, becoming a full congressional/media vortex suck. Regular Hoosiers I know aren't paying much attention and are polarized by President Trump.

    We'll restate past thoughts on these alleged high crimes and misdemeanors: 1. Impeachments are messy and unpredictable. 2. Impeachment is an American tragedy. 3. Impeachment will result in unintended consequences. 4. Hoosiers are prepared to render a verdict on President Trump at the ballot box next November. 5. If we get into a mode where we're impeaching an American president every 20 years, the fragile American experiment will be doomed. 
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher
  • The Foreign Involvement in Elections Act

    Calling on Sens. Young & Braun, and Rep. Banks to author the Foreign Involvement in Elections Act, which would legalize foreign sources to fund and influence American elections. If this is the new norm, if this is OK, then legalize it.

    Fox News analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explained, "The proof is largely undisputed, except by the president himself. It consists of admissions, testimony and documents, which show that President Trump sought to induce the government of Ukraine to become involved in the 2020 presidential election. Specifically, Trump held up $391 million in American military hardware and financial aid to Ukraine until Ukrainian prosecutors commenced a criminal investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. That is a mouthful of facts to swallow in one bite, but the legal implications are straightforward and profound."

    Conservative legal scholar Cass Sunstein laid out a similar narrative a few weeks ago. So with the House passing an official impeachment inquiry on a virtual party line vote, the question for Senate Republicans and the American people is whether their fidelity to the once GOP pillar of the "rule of law" stands, or whether it is consumed by a cult of personality presidency which will profoundly change American politics; where foreign influence will be invited into future elections. It's the ultimate slippery slope for the republic. Will we keep it?  - Brian A. Howey, publisher

     
  • Gen. Votel on what Kurd fighters did for the U.S.
    “Over four years, the SDF freed tens of thousands of square miles and millions of people from the grip of ISIS. Throughout the fight, it sustained nearly 11,000 casualties. By comparison, six U.S. service members, as well as two civilians, have been killed in the anti-ISIS campaign.” - U.S. Army Gen. Joseph Votel, who served as commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, on the role the Syrian Democratic Forces, made up mostly of Kurdish fighters. The United States has abandoned the SDF, which is now under an ethnic cleansing assault from Turkey after President Trump gave the green light for the incursion on Sunday.
  • Marion County will no longer prosecute marijuana possession under 1 ounce
    “This is something that has been on our minds and discussed internally for the last couple of years. We have discussed this issue with different law enforcement partners. We think this is going to have a number of benefits to the community. We believe that is a wrong that we need to right.” - Acting Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears, announcing his office will no longer prosecute marijuana possession cases involving one ounce or less. He also pointed out that the prosecution of marijuana cases have had a disproportionate impact on people of color. Mears said they looked at the impact on public safety when it comes to these cases. As many as 81% of these cases were being dismissed already. “Just because you’re arrested on a B misdemeanor of marijuana, it does not mean that you’re going to be a robber or a murderer,” he said. Tim Moriarty, who will challenge Mears for the job on Saturday, said he would pursue a similar policy ."If elected Marion County Prosecutor on Saturday, I would keep this change in policy in place and work alongside the community to analyze its effects," Moriarty said Monday morning. "But I do believe this new approach will only be successful if it is implemented alongside significant investments in treatment for substance abuse and mental health challenges. 
  • Madison Mayor Damon Welch dies
    “Damon was a tireless public servant who was passionate about his city and the state of Indiana. As a veteran, small businessman and city leader, he nurtured relationships of all types to improve the lives of all of those around him. Janet and I are heartbroken for his family, friends and the Madison community. We ask that all Hoosiers join us in offering prayers and condolences to the Welch family.” - Gov. Eric Holcomb, on the death of Madison Mayor Damon Welch. The Madison Courier reports that  Mayor Welch awoke with health complications early this morning. He was rushed to Kings Daughters Hospital where he subsequently passed. Shortly after 9 a.m., city employees were directed to lower the flags at City Hall and other city properties, in memory of the mayor. All city employees and office holders offer their heartfelt compassion to his wife Ginny, his children and grandchildren. Mayor Welch was not seeking reelection this year.
  • The NFL's Century season
    The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers kicked off the 100th season of the NFL Thursday nigth, meeting for the 199th time. The Bear defense lived up to billing. But Chicago third year QB Mitch Trubinsky ... not so much, as the Packers won 10-3, much to the howling, growling chagrin to the Bear faithful at Soldier Field. This, despite a pre-game appearance by the Punky QB (Jim McMahon). 

    There were 10 original teams of the NFL, including two in Indiana: The Hammond Pros and the Muncie Flyers. The others were Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Tigers, Dayton Triangles, Decatur Staleys, Racine Cardinals, Rock Island Independents, and Rochester Jeffersons. The Staleys would become the Bears. 

    The NFL wouldn't return to Indiana (beyond the Bears training camp at St. Joseph College at Rensselaer where Dick Butkus once said the statues were so ugly the pigeons wouldn't crap on them) until the Colts arrived in Indianapolis in 1984. It took 15 years before consistently great quarterbacking would establish itself in Indy, first with Peyton Manning and then Andrew Luck. Jacoby Brissett is now on the clock. - Brian A. Howey, publisher
  • A son's eulogy to Father
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    We gather here today to celebrate the life of Jack Eugene Howey. It was the proverbial life well lived for 93 years. As I stand here, I remember Dad’s advice to the various Methodist pastors he worked with over the years: A sermon should never last longer than 13.5 minutes, so I am on the clock.

    These past 10 months have been tough on our family as we watched a great man recede and his memories launch out into an endless expanse of time.

    Our family rallied around not only him, but also our Mother. The two of them shared an extraordinary 68 years together that began in the offices of the Indiana Daily Student at IU. They would have three children, six grandchildren. They would be among the first Western journalists to cross from Israel to Jordan on the Allenby Bridge just months after the Six Day War. They would witness topless mermaids cavorting in a huge jar at a Beirut casino, and go to a party with Abe Rosenthal and Punch Sulzberger of the New York Times in a penthouse overlooking Central Park where they hung out with Theodore White and Walter Cronkite. They would be in the room when President Nixon told a startled nation he was not a crook.

    Together they attended scores of concerts, Little League games, and Bridge games. Ever since that day at Lake Yellowwood when Dad said he was seeking a wife and gave her 10 minutes to decide, they were a fabulous partnership. Dad embraced his fatherhood, sending “Secret Friend” letters to us on our birthdays, going on Scout trips, excursions to the beach and other family vacations. And, of course, there were the annual pilgrimages to Chicago White Sox games. They ran a household where kids in the neighborhood could come and go.
  • Hoosier journalist Jack Howey dies at age 93
    Howey Politics Indiana

    INDIANAPOLIS  — Hoosier journalist Jack Eugene Howey, who reported, edited and published newspapers for a half century and helped draft Indiana’s Open Door Law, passed away at 9:19 p.m. Wednesday at age 93. As managing editor of the Peru Daily Tribune, it became the first Indiana newspaper to publish entire reports on school accreditation and paved the way for a new Peru High School that was built in 1971. Under his leadership, the Peru Daily Tribune was an early publication to give up hot type and use computer technology to put out the daily edition.  On one occasion when Howey learned that the Ku Klux Klan was planning a rally in a nearby hunting lodge, he and an FBI agent hid in bushes near the building. Howey wrote down the license plate numbers of the people attending and fearlessly published them the next day. The KKK was subsequently unable to reestablish itself in Miami County.
  • Epstein, Acosta and the perversion of power
    For those of you wondering why Labor Secretary Alex Acosta resigned Friday despite President Trump's assertion that he is a "great labor secretary," spend 15 minutes to read Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown's "Perversion of Justice: How a future Trump Cabinet member gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime." You'll learn that District Attorney Acosta bowed to the demands of pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's all-star legal team, cut "an extraordinary plea agreement that would conceal the full extent of Epstein’s crimes and the number of people involved." This is about a lurid a tale of crime and power as I've ever read. While this was going on, Epstein's enforcers were tracking down witnesses and journalists, issuing threats.

    Brown writes: "Not only would Epstein serve just 13 months in the county jail, but the deal — called a non-prosecution agreement — essentially shut down an ongoing FBI probe into whether there were more victims and other powerful people who took part in Epstein’s sex crimes." We are learning that Epstein's circles included dozens if not hundreds of underage girls, recruiters, presidents, princes and the rich and famous.

    Florida State Sen. Lauren Book, asks: “Where is the righteous indignation for these women? Where are the protectors? Who is banging down the doors of the secretary of labor, or the judge or the sheriff’s office in Palm Beach County, demanding justice and demanding the right to be heard?"

    Of course President Trump said of Epstein in 2002, “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side." Wink-wink. That was three years before Trump's infamous Access Hollywood comment (if you're rich and famous, "you can grab them by their pussy") and five years before Acosta's plea deal with Epstein. It begs the question, What would Mother think?  - Brian A. Howey, publisher
  • President Washington's farewell warning to Americans
    “The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty. It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.” - President George Washington, in his farewell address in 1797.
  • Trump, Putin yuk it up over 2020 election assault threat
    National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and CIA Director Gina Haspel have all acknowledged that the Russians assaulted the U.S. election process in 2016 and warned that the Kremlin remains a threat for the 2020 U.S. elections. In June 2018, the Justice Department indicted 12 members of the Russian intelligence agency, GRU, as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. The indictment accused the Russians of engaging in a "sustained effort" to hack emails and computer networks associated with the Democratic party during the 2016 presidential campaign. In his final report in April, Mueller warned, “I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments — that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. That allegation deserves the attention of every American.”

    But the notion that President Trump and his administration takes this threat seriously completely dissolved on Friday when he met with Russian President Putin in Osaka during the G-20 summit. A reporter asked Trump if he would warn Putin not to meddle in America's upcoming 2020 election. “Of course,” the president replied. Then he turned to Putin and facetiously said, “Don't meddle in the election.” He playfully repeated the request while pointing to the smirking Putin, who laughed. This comes after Trump told ABC News he would be open to accepting information from foreign sources on political opponents.

    Trump glanced at reporters and told Putin: “Get rid of them, fake news. You don't have the problem in Russia. We have it; you don't have it.” Putin responded, “Yes, yes, we have it. The same.” The difference is that Putin murders investigative reporters in Russia.

    So this president, who took an oath "to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," instead joined a Russian head of state to yuk it up over the threat. Pathetic. Disturbing. Dangerous. Historic.
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher
  • Trump '100% for Pence on 2020 ticket

    President Trump made it clear that he will seek reelection in 2020 with Vice President Mike Pence on the ticket. NBC Meet The Press  host Chuck Todd asked Trump if he would run with Pence. "Well, look, look - 100 percent, yes. He's been, he’s been a terrific vice president. He's my friend." 

    Todd asked Trump why he didn't commit to supporting Pence for president in 2024. "Because it was a surprise question," the president said. "I mean, you know, I’m not even thinking of it. It's so far out. I mean, It's so far out. That would be the only reason. Now what happens in 2024? I don't know that Mike is going to run. I don't know who's running or anything else." - Brian A. Howey, in Indianapolis

  • Visclosky outlines Defense expenditures after House passage
    “This bill makes several efforts to focus on the well-being and morale of those in uniform, their families, DoD civilians, and defense communities." - U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky after the House approved H.R. 2740, legislation that included Visclosky’s Fiscal Year 2020 Defense Appropriation Act. It includes a 3.1% pay raise for military men and women, $70.7 million for military childcare facilities, $297.2 million for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response programs at the Service level, $1.26 billion for environmental restoration activities, $101.5 billion for basic and applied scientific research, development, and the testing of new technologies and equipment, and $1.3 billion for the National Guard.
  • Mayor Pete gets a great debate card
    Mayor Pete may have his dream debate matchup. He'll be matched up with former vice president Joe Biden, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Kamala Harris on Tuesday, June 27, the second night of the debates. Others on the Tuesday card include Sen. Michael Bennet, Rep. Eric Swalwell, Andrew Yang, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Gov. John Hickenlooper and Marianne Williamson.

    So Buttigieg gets to share a stage with the two frontrunners of Biden and Sanders. He's got to be pleased with that. - Brian A. Howey, in Iowa City
  • Claybourn's 'Our American Story' seeks elusive unity

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    EVANSVILLE – Joshua Claybourn describes himself as a “relatively unknown lawyer from the Midwest.” But on June 1, his book “Our American Story: The Search for a Shared National Narrative” goes on sale, and the lineup of contributors is impressive. Included are historians, including Pulitzer Prize winners David W. Blight, Alan Taylor along with Gordon Wood; lawyers Cass Sustein, Richard E. Epstein, Ilya Somin and  Gerard N. Magliocca of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Political scientists and analysts include Spencer Boyer, Eleanor Clift, Nikolas Gvosdev, Jason Kuznicki, Markos Moulitsas, James V. Wertsch and Ali Wyne. And there are the politicians, including U.S. Rep. Jim Banks and former Sen. John Danforth.

    Claybourn, an Evansville attorney and Howey Politics Indiana contributor, explains, “Over the past few decades, the complicated divides of geography, class, religion, and race created deep fractures in the United States, each side fighting to advance its own mythology and political interests. We lack a central story, a common ground we can celebrate and enrich with deeper meaning. Unable to agree on first principles, we cannot agree on what it means to be American. As we dismantle or disregard symbols and themes that previously united us, can we replace them with stories and rites that unite our tribes and maintain meaning in our American identity?”

    He explains in the book’s foreward: “We’ve seen these factional clusters deepen, harden, and separate, leading in turn to anger, misunderstanding, and hostility. Meanwhile, trust in institutions — government, business, the media, and higher education — continues to erode. Cultural warfare further splits our society, exposing fundamental differences about our views of justice and human nature. Unable to agree on first principles, we cannot agree on what it means to be American. As a result, we share few of the touchstones that, in the past, contributed to our national mythology."

    You can order “Our American Story” by clicking here. 

  • Indiana newspaper closings continue

    Indiana's atrophied newspaper saga continues. Today we learn of the closing of the Hendricks County Flyer, which covered Brownsburg, Avon, Plainfield and surrounding areas. Publisher Beverly Joyce told readers that only 6% of recipients voluntarily paid for the paper. “Unfortunately, the business model of free content to a large print audience was not sustainable,” the paper quoted Joyce saying. “We tried every way we could to keep the operation viable.”

    This sad news comes as close to 1,800 newspapers across the U.S. have closed since 2004. Other newspapers closing in Indiana include NUVO Newsweekly in Indianapolis and Green Banner Publishing of Pekin, which had newspapers in Scott, Washington and Floyd counties. The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel is now a one-person operation.

    This is a crisis for Hoosier citizens. Where will they be getting their local news? - Brian A. Howey, publisher


  • Services for Sen. Lugar May 14-15
    On behalf of the Lugar family, The Lugar Center issued the following statement regarding funeral and farewell arrangements for former United States Senator Richard Lugar: The Lugar family extends its heartfelt gratitude for the outpouring of condolences since the Senator’s unexpected death early Sunday.  The funeral service will occur on Wednesday May 15 at 1pm at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Indianapolis. The Senator served as a lay elder at St Luke’s and his family were founding members. Additionally, the Senator will lie in state in the Rotunda of the State Capitol for 24 hours prior to the funeral.  In a brief ceremony at noon on Tuesday May 14, Gov. Holcomb will commence the memorial period, after which the Rotunda will be open for those who wish to pay respects at the catafalque.  The public will be welcome through sunset on Tuesday and from 8 a.m. through 11 a.m. on Wednesday.  The Lugar family will be available to greet well-wishers in the South Atrium of the Capitol from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday the 14th. The seating capacity of the church will not permit everyone who wishes to attend the funeral to be there in person.  As space permits, we will admit as many as possible.  More information on this process will be forthcoming. Additionally, so that all the Senator’s friends world-wide can view the funeral, the entire service will be streamed live on the internet.  More information on that will also be forthcoming. We have received inquiries regarding memorial contributions; the family has asked that these be directed to The Lugar Center in order to continue the Senator’s work on nonproliferation, global food security and bipartisan governance. Click here.
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  • Parnas implicates Trump, Pence in Ukraine scandal
    “The announcement was the key at that time because of the inauguration and I told him Pence would not show up, nobody would show up to his inauguration. It was particularly Vice President Mike Pence.” - Lev Parnas, the indicted friend of President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, in an interview on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show, where he implicated Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General William Barr in the quid pro quo of the Ukraine scandal that prompted Trump's impeachment. Parnas said that Pence's attendance at Ukraine President Zelensky's inauguration was cancelled the day after Parnas called on Zelensky to announce an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden, When asked if Pence was aware of the quid pro quo, Parnas said, “I’m going to use a famous quote from [Ambassador Gordon] Sondland. Everybody was in the loop.” 
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  • Pence, Holcomb, Buttigieg head 2020 HPI Power 50
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY in Indianapolis
    and MARK SCHOEFF JR., 
    in Washington

    As we unveil the 2020 version of the Howey Politics Indiana Power 50 List, Hoosiers appear to be relatively satisfied with their state government, unsure about the federals and specifically President Trump, and are most concerned about health care and the economy.

    These are the latest survey numbers from the We Ask America Poll conducted in early December for the Indiana Manufacturers Association. They accentuate the formulation of our annual Power 50 list headed by Vice President Mike Pence, Gov. Eric Holcomb, former South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg, and the state’s two Republican senators who will likely sit in judgment (and acquittal) of President Trump in an impeachment trial later this month. 

    As Pence appears to be heading off thinly veiled attempts by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to get him off the 2020 ticket, Hoosiers by 47.4% approve to 47.7% disapprove of President Trump’s job performance. This is consistent with 2019 polling by Ball State University and Morning Consult. On the national right/wrong track, just 37% of registered voters in Indiana feel that the country is headed in the right direction, while a majority, 52%, say that things have gotten off on the wrong track, including 51% of independents and 26% of Republicans. Among female voters, the right/wrong track split is 29%/58%.

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