HALF MILLION HOOSIERS VOTE BY MAIL SO FAR: Indiana voters have already cast more than three times as many ballots by mail than they did throughout the entire last presidential election, and with 18 days remaining until the Nov. 3 vote, the number of total Indiana absentee ballots that have been approved is nearing the total for all of the 2016 election (Indiana Lawyer). According to information provided to Indiana Lawyer by the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office, 522,451 ballots have been cast by mail as of Friday, compared with 155,584 for all of the November 2016 election. And with six days remaining before the Oct. 22 deadline for Hoosier voters to request an absentee ballot, the state has approved 790,471 absentee ballots, compared to 948,618 for all of 2016. Indiana’s surge in mail-in absentee voting reflects a spike in early voting nationwide in a high-stakes election amid a pandemic. The Hoosier State’s jump in mail-in ballots comes despite federal court rulings that have upheld laws limiting who may vote by mail. And pending a possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, federal courts also have upheld Election Day receipt deadlines in Indiana and Wisconsin for absentee votes to be counted. The proportion of Indiana voters who cast absentee ballots by mail rather than in person also represents a flip from 2016 likely attributable to the pandemic. In 2016, just under 16% of absentee ballots were cast by mail. So far this election year, nearly 65% have been mailed. More than 101,000 ballots have been approved at this point in Indianapolis compared to just over 71,000 for all of 2016. In Lake County, more than 59,000 ballots have been approved compared to just over 58,000 counted at the conclusion of the last presidential election.

 

REPUBLICANS FIGHT TO KEEP SEATS IN NORTH INDY SUBURBS: In 2018, when Democrat Naomi Bechtold ran against Republican incumbent Donna Schaibley for the state’s House District 24, she didn’t think Republicans even realized Schaibley had an opponent. Bechtold was a first-time candidate, didn’t know much about how to run a campaign, and didn’t have enough money to air a TV ad (Erdody, IBJ). As a result, she was pleasantly surprised when she earned 42% of the vote. This year, she is on the ballot—again opposing Schaibley—but the race is much different. “No longer are we running a stealth campaign,” Bechtold said. “Republicans obviously know there’s a whole lot of qualified Democrats on the ballot. I think they are legitimately scared of losing so many seats on the north side of Indianapolis, and I think ours is one of them.” Indiana House Speaker Republican Todd Huston has been on TV since August in an effort to reach voters in his Fishers district. Republican state Sen. John Ruckelshaus has lost 18 pounds walking door to door in his district in northern Marion County and Hamilton County. Longtime Republican state Rep. Jerry Torr, who represents Carmel, says he’s spending more time and money campaigning than ever before and has a TV ad for the first time ever. And Schaibley, whose district includes parts of Hamilton and Boone counties, has knocked on more than 4,000 doors since June—donning a mask and staying distant from voters—and is also on TV for the first time. “These folks have never had to campaign in this way before,” said Peter Hanscom, former Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly’s 2018 campaign manager. “I think these races are going to be incredibly close.” Ed Feigenbaum, publisher and editor of Indiana Legislative Insight, said “anything and everything is in play.” “Nobody really knows what to expect,” Feigenbaum said. “I was shocked when I saw that first Donna Schaibley ad,” Feigenbaum said. “But it makes a whole lot of sense that she’s up there early.”

 

COLE, KLEIN SEE OPENINGS: Speaker Todd Huston faces the same Democratic opponent this year as he did in 2018—attorney Aimee Rivera Cole (IBJ). Cole said she learned in 2018 that Fishers—which makes up much of the district—“isn’t as red as everybody thought.” She earned 45.5% of the vote as a first-time candidate. In House District 39, Torr’s margins have also been narrowing. In 2014, Torr received 73% of the vote, but in 2016, that dropped to 64% and in 2018 to 57%. “Carmel has been changing and Jerry Torr has not been willing to change with the community,” said Democrat Ashley Klein, who is running against Torr. “He’s out of touch with the voters, and people in Carmel are looking for a more representative voice.”

 

LAWSON CALLS FOUNTAIN COUNTY'S MASKLESS CLERK:  When Secretary of State Connie Lawson called to encourage Paula Copenhaver and her poll workers to put on face masks while overseeing early balloting at the Fountain County Courthouse, the county clerk told Lawson what she’s been repeating since polls opened Oct. 6 (Bangert, Lafayette Journal & Courier). “There are exemptions to the governor’s mandate,” Copenhaver said Friday. “If someone qualifies for an exemption, it is none of my business.” In rural Fountain County — located southwest of Lafayette and where Indiana designated the rural towns as coronavirus hot spots — Copenhaver’s mask-less stance hasn’t changed. She’s part of the government, the clerk said, “but I’m not going to be part of the government overreach.” Lawson did reach out to Copenhaver and ask her to put on a mask, Valerie Warycha, communications director for the secretary of state, confirmed Friday. She didn’t reveal more about how the conversation went. But Friday morning, Lawson sent an email to clerks and election officials in all 92 Indiana counties, saying it was “necessary to speak bluntly” about how “some counties” weren’t requiring poll workers to use personal protective equipment — masks, sneeze guards, hand sanitizer, gloves and disinfectant — that the state spent millions of dollars to provide.

 

VIGO COUNTY'S BELLWETHER STREAK IN JEOPARDY: Since 1952, Vigo County has been on quite a streak. The presidential candidate that wins the west central Indiana county has gone on to win the presidency (Turner, Indiana Public Media). It’s a streak many locals take pride in, but close observers say the county’s luck may be running out. “Everything points to this being the year that that the streak would get interrupted,” Max Jones Editor at the local Tribune-Star newspaper said. “But, you know, we've been saying that for a while.” In 1952, Vigo County voted for Adlai Stevenson—a Democrat from just across the border in Bloomington, Illinois.

 

TRUMP SUGGESTS HE MAY 'LEAVE THE COUNTRY' IF HE LOSES: President Trump joked that he would “have to leave the country” if he loses the upcoming presidential election against Democratic nominee Joe Biden (The Hill). “I will deliver optimism, opportunity and hope, and that’s what we’re doing, and this is why we have this kind of spirit, and I hate to say it because I don’t want to insult Georgia, but it’s this way all over our country,” Trump told a cheering crowd at a campaign event in Macon, Ga., on Friday, later mocking the social distancing and face coverings at Biden’s campaign events. Trump added: “I shouldn’t joke because you know what? Running against the worst candidate in the history of presidential politics puts pressure on me. Could you imagine if I lose? My whole life, what am I going to do? I’m going to say ‘I lost to the worst candidate in the history of politics.’ I’m not going to feel so good." “Maybe I’ll have to leave the country? I don’t know.” Trump added.

 

KELLY CALLS TRUMP 'MOST FLAWED PERSON I'VE EVER KNOWN': Former White House chief of staff, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, has told friends that President Donald Trump "is the most flawed person" he's ever known (CNN). "The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me. The dishonesty, the transactional nature of every relationship, though it's more pathetic than anything else. He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life," the retired Marine general has told friends, CNN has learned.

 

INDIANA'S GDP SHRINKS 33%: A new federal report highlights how much Indiana's economic output slumped in the second quarter after supply chain disruptions and stay-at-home orders forced some businesses closed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic (IndyStar). Indiana's real gross domestic product — the market value of goods and services produced by the labor and property located in a state —shrunk at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 33%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. GDP is recorded as an annualized rate projecting over a period of four consecutive quarters. A direct quarter-to-quarter comparison paints a less severe picture, but it still shows a decline in the state's economic output. According to the report, Indiana's real GDP dropped to a value of $344 billion in the April to June second quarter from $381.9 billion in the first quarter of this year. The second quarter GDP figure is down from $377.8 billion — or about 9% — from the same period one year ago.

 

UPPER MIDWEST PANDEMIC SPIKE TIED TO STURGIS: Within weeks of the Sturgis, S.D., motorcycle gathering, the Dakotas, along with Wyoming, Minnesota and Montana, were leading the nation in new coronavirus infections per capita (SFGate). The surge was especially pronounced in North and South Dakota, where cases and hospitalization rates continued their juggernaut rise into October. Experts say they will never be able to determine how many of those cases originated at the 10-day rally, given the failure of state and local health officials to identify and monitor attendees returning home, or to trace chains of transmission after people got sick. Some, however, believe the nearly 500,000-person gathering played a role in the outbreak now consuming the Upper Midwest. More than 330 coronavirus cases and one death were directly linked to the rally as of mid-September, according to a Washington Post survey of health departments in 23 states that provided information. But experts say that tally represents just the tip of the iceberg, since contact tracing often doesn't capture the source of an infection, and asymptomatic spread goes unnoticed.

 

NEWSMAN SAVES KERNAN'S USN FOOTLOCKER: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. We’ve heard it before many times. Here’s the story of one of those trash/treasure items. It definitely falls into the treasure category. No doubt (Borlik, South Bend Tribune). Terry McFadden, of South Bend, told a touching story recently on Facebook about a piece of junk he pulled out of the alley. It is a fine piece of memorabilia from the late Gov. Joe Kernan‘s military days. Terry as we all know is a news anchor at WNDU Channel 16 and is a lifetime South Bend resident. Terry explained on Facebook that his parents’ yard and the Kernans’ yard were adjoining and split by an alley. A number of years ago, the Kernans were doing extensive cleaning to downsize. “I was there doing work on the yard and took out the trash. I saw Joe’s metal footlocker in the alley.” The footlocker was marked “LTJG J.E. Kernan USN.” It had stored his gear. It is part of history. “The same foot locker used by Vietnam War hero Joe Kernan. There was no way that foot locker was going to end up in the bed of some scrapper’s pick-up truck,” Terry wrote on Facebook.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Some 27 million Americans have voted already. Indiana Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer told Howey Politics Indiana  on Saturday that there have been 1.4 million early votes and absentee ballots cast in Indiana. And this is before wider early voting begins in Indianapolis. This is going to be an election for the record books. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

DEBATE COMMISSION PONDERS VIRUS RULES: The first of two debates among the candidates for governor takes place Tuesday in Indianapolis, with coronavirus precautions in place. One of the candidates wants more (WIBC). There will be no live audience, not even reporters — only the three candidates, the moderator, the production crew, and a single pool photographer. Democrat Woody Myers said Thursday the candidates should also have to take a coronavirus test the day before. And he wants the three lecterns as far apart as possible. Republican Governor Eric Holcomb’s campaign and the Indiana Debate Commission say rules discussions are ongoing. Holcomb tested negative on Wednesday. Campaign spokeswoman Holly Lawson says the governor doesn’t necessarily object to another test, but she points to Centers for Disease Control guidelines calling for tests for people who have symptoms or have had close contact with someone who does. Libertarian nominee Don Rainwater points to the same guidance to say a test is unnecessary, though he says he’ll do it if the commission requires it.

 

HOLCOMB, CHALLENGERS TRADE PANDEMIC SHOTS: Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb hears lots of criticism over how he’s led Indiana during the coronavirus pandemic over the past seven months (IBJ). The two challengers to Holcomb’s reelection bid split on whether he’s been too passive in attacking the virus spread or that he’s trampled people’s rights with the statewide stay-at-home order early in the outbreak and the mask mandate first issued in July. When asked recently what he would have done differently in responding to the pandemic, Holcomb replied: “I don’t say this arrogantly, but not too much.” “Our economy is open. So, it’s really balancing the lives and the livelihoods,” Holcomb told WXIN-TV. Myers said the mask mandate should be altered so that violators could face fines as a way for spurring “hardheaded Hoosiers” resisting their use into understanding their importance. “Instead of swift action, we’re seeing a governor frozen in the intensifying spotlight choosing the politically convenient path of doing nothing,” Myers said. “It is clear to me that Indiana is now losing the battle against COVID-19.” Rainwater, a 57-year-old information technology manager, said he takes COVID-19 seriously but argues state officials should have been better prepared for the outbreak. “Hollywood has been making movies about global pandemics and zombie apocalypse for decades,” Rainwater said. “How did we have no idea how to prepare our citizens to make the right choices and right decisions on their own? Why did we feel the need to react by mandate?”

 

HOLCOMB APPEARS AT SULLIVAN COUNTY LINCOLN LUNCH: Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb was making the rounds Saturday as part of his re-election campaign and made one of his stops at the Sullivan County Republican Lincoln Day event in Shelburn (Modesitt, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). Some 70-plus turned out to see the governor and hear his platform and plan for building on his past four years in office. Holcomb announced in the last week of September the state was moving into stage five. Some critics knocked the governor for moving forward despite a marked uptick in statewide cases while others decried his extension of the state's mask mandate. Holcomb said Saturday that he only ever took the steps he and his team felt were in the best interest of public health and safety. "The restrictions are there to help control and hopefully slow the spread," Holcomb said. "And that is dependent in large part too in Hoosiers practicing good behavior and actions. "Ultimately it is up to us all. And we [the state] will doing everything we can to make sure our capacity to care — whether it's ICU beds or negative airflow rooms, ventilators, PPE, you name it — that those resources are available to those on the front lines and those in need of care.

 

McCORMICK CONCERNED ABOUT APPOINT SUPT: Indiana's final elected schools chief says that the 2020 election has a lot on the line, especially for education. But she has concerns about the future of the position of the state's top education official (Lindsay, Indiana Public Media). Whoever wins the race for governor will appoint an education secretary – shifting away from the previously elected job Jennifer McCormick currently holds. It's a big change, and McCormick said she hopes whoever gets the job, isn't afraid to break away from political expectations. "I think that's going to be a real stretch, when your job is dependent upon: you get in line, you do what you need to do," she said. She also wants whoever is appointed to have recent experience leading K-12 schools, and understand the complexity of how they work – from referendums and reading, to bus evacuations and extracurricular activities. "That whole spectrum of a conversation is incredibly important in this position – I hope that continues," she said.

 

ZODY CALLS ON ROKITA TO DROP ACA LAWSUIT: In a virtual press conference Friday, Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody called on hardliner Todd Rokita to commit to removing Indiana from a lawsuit that threatens coverage for 2.7 million Hoosiers with pre-existing conditions (Howey Politics Indiana). Rokita voted over 50 times to gut the Affordable Care Act while a member of Congress. Three Indiana physicians shared how elements of the Affordable Care Act – like protections for pre-existing conditions and expanded coverage through HIP 2.0 – have benefitted the patients they see.

 

Presidential 2020

 

BIDEN HAS HUGE AIRWAVE ADVANTAGE: President Trump is being vastly outspent by Joseph R. Biden Jr. in television advertising in the general election battleground states and elsewhere, with the former vice president focusing overwhelmingly on the coronavirus as millions of Americans across the country begin casting early votes (New York Times). Mr. Biden has maintained a nearly 2-to-1 advantage on the airwaves for months. His dominance is most pronounced in three critical swing states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — where he spent about $53 million to Mr. Trump’s $17 million over the past month largely on ads assailing the president’s handling of the virus as well as the economy and taxes, according to data from Advertising Analytics, an ad tracking firm. In Pennsylvania alone, Mr. Biden ran 38 different ads during a single week this month, a sign of how comprehensive his effort there has been.

 

TIE IN NC: President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are statistically tied in North Carolina in a NewsNation/Emerson poll out Thursday (News Nation). With just 19 days until the presidential election, the sample of likely voters in the Tar Heel State puts the two candidates neck and neck, with each polling at 48.9%. 1.6% of others say they are voting for other candidates, and .6 % of voters say they remain undecided.

 

BIDEN WINNING SENIOR VOTE: Republicans have won the senior vote in the last four presidential elections. This year, older voters are showing signs of having second thoughts about President Trump, one reason he is lagging behind Democratic nominee Joe Biden in polls of some of the most important battlegrounds (Wall Street Journal). Mr. Trump won seniors by 7 percentage points in 2016 but has trailed Mr. Biden by 10 points with that group all year in Wall Street Journal/NBC News polling. The coronavirus pandemic is making it hard for the president to rebound with older voters, who are among those most vulnerable to Covid-19.

 

BIDEN DRAWS MORE VIEWERS THAN TRUMP: Up from the fast affiliates of earlier this morning, the latest numbers have ABC News’ The Vice-President and the People getting 14.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen (Deadline.Com). That beats the 13 million that Trump got on NBC, MSNBC and CNBC put together for his own much-hyped and lambasted town hall. Yes, over three Comcast-owned channels, the incumbent still lost to the poll topping Biden, who was just on one channel.

 

TRUMP ADVISERS BELIEVE HE WILL LOSE: Three senior Trump advisers who recently talked to campaign manager Bill Stepien walked away believing he thinks they will lose (Axios). The big picture: The Trump campaign is filled with internal blaming and pre-spinning of a potential loss, accelerating a dire mood that's driven by a daily barrage of bleak headlines, campaign and White House officials tell me. "A lot of this is the president himself," one adviser said. "You can't heal a patient who doesn't want to take the diagnosis."

 

TRUMP MAKES APPEAL TO SUBURBAN WOMEN: If President Donald Trump loses his reelection bid in November, it will be in part because of his fundamental misunderstanding of the beliefs of "suburban women," whom he has tried to win back with a series of bizarre and racist appeals that seem more targeted to a stereotype from the 1950s and 1960s than the American women who actually live in those areas today (CNN). "Would you like a nice low-income housing project next to your suburban beautiful ranch style house? Generally speaking, no," Trump said in Muskegon. "I saved your suburbs -- women -- suburban women, you're supposed to love Trump," he said.

TRUMP CALLS FOR BIDENS TO BE JAILED: President Donald Trump called on Friday night for Joe Biden and his family to be jailed, escalating his attacks on his Democratic opponent over unsupported accusations as he struggles to reverse his deficit in the polls (Bloomberg News). “Lock up the Bidens. Lock up Hillary,” Trump declared at a rally in Macon, Georgia, stoking the crowd that chanted “lock him up” in favor of the Democratic candidate’s imprisonment. “We’ve learned over the last couple of months: Joe Biden is a corrupt politician,” Trump said to his supporters, “and the Biden family is a criminal enterprise.”

 

BUTTIGIEG BLASTS TRUMP ON FOREIGN POLICY: Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg once blasted Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for his foreign policy record, but now defends him while claiming that President Trump is a "disaster" in that area (Fox News). Buttigieg, who ran against Biden in the Democratic primaries, appeared on "Fox News Sunday" speaking in favor of Biden's campaign, and called Trump a "destabilizing force literally everywhere he goes." Buttigieg, who joined Biden's transition team in September, had previously blasted the former vice president for supporting the Iraq war under President George W. Bush. "He supported the worst foreign policy decision made by the United States in my lifetime, which was the decision to invade Iraq," Buttigieg once said.

 

TRUMP FEVER IN VALPO: Trump fever was contagious at Saturday’s Porter County GOP rally. Hundreds of his supporters flocked to Central Park to buy Trump merchandise and hear messages aimed at getting out the vote (Ross, NWI Times). Jeff Hickman, of Valparaiso, said he voted for Donald Trump in 2016, in part because of the president’s views on immigration. “He was a question mark then because he didn’t have any political background,” Hickman said, but has had a solid performance since then. Ellyn Major, of Valparaiso, appreciates Trump’s support for the troops, but that’s not all. “What he has done for the economy is amazing,” Major said. The nation needs his economic expertise for the next four years, she said. Todd Rokita, running for Indiana attorney general, was effusive in his praise for Trump. “This election is for all the marbles. This one determines as a country where we will be,” he said. “I’ve never seen anyone fight more than Donald Trump for America."

 

Sunday Talk

 

PELOSI CHASTISES TRUMP OVER MICHIGAN RALLY: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) chastised President Trump for promoting “fear tactics” during his campaign rallies, calling his Saturday appearance in Michigan “so irresponsible.” “The president has to realize that the words of the president of the United States weigh a ton,” Pelosi told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “And in our political dialogue, to inject fear tactics into it, especially a woman governor and her family, is so irresponsible.”

 

TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE ON MICHIGAN 'LOCK HER UP' CHANT: Senior Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller said the president stood by attacking Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) in the wake of an alleged plot by a militia group to kidnap her. Asked on “Fox News Sunday” if the president regretted either his own attacks or a chant of “Lock her up” that broke out at a Saturday rally, Miller responded, “No, not at all.” “I think the fact of the matter is many residents of Michigan are pretty frustrated with the governor [and] they want to see the state open back up,” Miller said. “I’m glad that President Trump’s DOJ was able to get these psychopaths and put them away,” Miller said of the alleged plotters, “but the fact of the matter is, people in Michigan want to get their state opened back up.”

 

LARA TRUMP DENIES MOCKING BIDEN STUTTER: Lara Trump on Sunday denied mocking Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's speech, and instead suggested that the former vice president may be experiencing a cognitive decline. During an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” the president's daughter-in-law, who serves as a senior campaign adviser, was pressed by Jake Tapper about an event in January during which she appeared to ridicule the way in which Biden speaks. "Every time he’s on stage and they turn to him, I’m like, ‘Joe, can you get it out? Let’s get the words out, Joe,’" she said on stage at the time.

 

Congress

 

YOUNG COMMENTS ON EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES: U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) released the following statement in response to the White House releasing their new “National Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technologies,” which outlines how the United States will promote and protect our competitive edge in fields such as artificial intelligence, energy, quantum information science, communication and networking technologies, semiconductors, military, and space technologies (Howey Politics Indiana). “The Administration’s announcement today of a Critical and Emerging Technologies strategy is a positive step forward and something that is long overdue. Just as I laid out months ago in my Endless Frontier Act, this new strategy identifies critical technology areas and proposes mobilizing the federal government to focus significant resources on ensuring we remain the global leader in these fields. Combatting the influence of the Chinese Communist Party in these areas is vital for both our economic and national security. This new announcement lays the groundwork for my Endless Frontier Act which will provide the resources necessary for our country to act,” said Young.

 

General Assembly

 

TORR RECOMMENDS NEW MAGISTRATE FOR LAKE COUNTY: A request to add a new state-funded magistrate to the Lake County courts is eligible for consideration by the Indiana General Assembly next year after a legislative study committee on Friday unanimously endorsed the proposal (Carden, NWI Times). If also approved by the full Legislature, the new magistrate would work alongside Judge Aleksandra Dimitrijevic in the County Division 4 courtroom in Hammond. Dimitrijevic last month told the Interim Study Committee on Courts and the Judiciary a magistrate is needed to help tackle a court workload that grew 40% from 2016 to 2019, and continues to increase following the closing of the Hammond and Whiting city courts. "Our recommendation is merely that, it's a recommendation. So this will have to go through the legislative process just like any bill," said state Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, the committee chairman.

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: HILL CLAIMS HOLCOMB INFRINGED ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTY - Indiana's Republican attorney general is claiming the state's Republican governor usurped Hoosiers' religious liberty earlier this year by directing places of worship to close their doors in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic (Carden, NWI Times). In a five-page official opinion issued last week, Attorney General Curtis Hill Jr. says Gov. Eric Holcomb engaged in unlawful religious discrimination by issuing COVID-19 prevention guidance that treated religious entities different than other places of business. State records show the governor's guidance for places of worship only was in effect from April 9 to May 1, and it relied on voluntary compliance by clergy and members of religious organizations. The governor also insisted at the time that his guidance, issued in conjunction with the State Department of Health, was intended "not to restrict religious liberty" but "to save lives during these extraordinary times."

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB CHOSES ALLEN COUNTY JUDGE - Gov. Eric J. Holcomb today announced Steven O. Godfrey as his appointment to the Allen County Superior Court, Criminal Division. Godfrey will succeed Judge Wendy Davis who is running unopposed to be the next Allen County Circuit Court judge (Howey Politics Indiana). Since 2018, Godfrey has served as a magistrate with the Allen Circuit Court, where he presides over criminal, civil, family, and child support cases. Additionally, Godfrey also runs three problem solving courts: Veterans Court, Restoration Court, and Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated Court. The OVWI Court is the first and only in the State of Indiana. Godfrey began his law career clerking with the Allen Superior Court under Judges Surbeck and Thieme. Upon completion of his clerkship, Godfrey was hired by the Lake County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office where he remained for seven years until he was hired by the Allen County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in 1999. Godfrey was promoted to chief counsel of the Criminal Division and during his time there he prosecuted the most serious of felonies committed in Allen County.  Godfrey earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Ball State University and a law degree from Valparaiso University.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL: SETTLEMENT FOR MEDICAL DEVICE KICKBACKS - Attorney General Curtis Hill announced today that Indiana has joined with other states and the federal government to reach an agreement in principle with a Utah-based medical device manufacturer to settle allegations that the company offered unlawful kickbacks to health care providers in order to induce them to purchase its medical devices (Howey Politics Indiana). Merit Medical Systems (Merit) will pay the states and the federal government $18 million – $5.58 million of which will go to Medicaid programs – to resolve civil allegations that Merit’s unlawful promotion of its medical devices caused false claims to be submitted to government health care programs. As part of the settlement, Indiana Medicaid will receive $285,584 in restitution and other recoveries. Merit markets and sells embolotherapeutic devices used to treat abnormal connections between arteries and veins, symptomatic uterine fibroids and hypervascular tumors.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL: PRECIOUS METAL SCAM INJUNCTION - Attorney General Curtis Hill announced today that a federal judge has issued preliminary injunctions against two precious metals dealers and associated companies accused of soliciting nearly $200 million from seniors and other vulnerable investors nationwide by touting precious metals at grossly inflated prices that were not disclosed (Howey Politics Indiana). The injunctions come weeks after Attorney General Hill, the Office of the Indiana Secretary of State and the Indiana Securities Division joined a nationwide enforcement action to halt the fraud scheme, allegedly perpetrated by defendants Metals.com and Barrick Capital, Inc. The action is the largest joint filing with state regulators in Commodity Futures Trading Commission history. The companies are accused of soliciting $185 million from at least 1,600 seniors and other investors. The companies’ overcharges averaged from 100% to more than 300% over the prevailing market price.

 

PURDUE: 'GOOD GOVERNMENT' SOCIETIES FALL HARDER SAYS PURUDE PROF - Societies with 'good' governments like the Roman Empire and China's Ming Dynasty fell harder than tyrannical dictatorships, a new study suggests. When 'good' governments – those that provided goods and services for their people and did not starkly concentrate wealth and power – fell apart, they broke down more intensely, US researchers say (Daily Mail). Although good governments may have been able to sustain themselves longer than corrupt regimes, they tended to suffer a more catastrophic collapse when new leaders undermined social contracts with the people. The anthropologists examined a broad, global sample of 30 pre-modern societies, including the Roman Empire and one of its most memorable rulers, Commodus, who was more interested in chariot racing and bloodsports than ruling the empire. Whether societies are ruled by ruthless dictators or more well-meaning representatives, they fall apart in time – but with different degrees of severity, the team point out in their study, published in Frontiers in Political Science. 'Our findings provide insights that should be of value in the present,' said lead author Richard Blanton at Purdue University in Indiana. 'Most notably, societies, even ones that are well governed, prosperous, and highly regarded by most citizens, are fragile human constructs that can fail.  'In the cases we address, calamity could very likely have been avoided, yet, citizens and state-builders too willingly assumed that their leadership will feel an obligation to do as expected for the benefit of society.' The team looked in the greatest detail at the governments of four societies – the Roman Empire, China's Ming Dynasty, India's Mughal Empire, and the Venetian Republic. 

 

Nation

 

MICHIGAN: OPEN CARRY GUNS BANNED AT POLLS - Michigan's top election official says the state won't allow people to openly carry guns at or near polling places on Election Day (AP). Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson sent the guidance to clerks just over a week after members of two anti-government paramilitary groups were charged with taking part in plotting the kidnapping of the governor. Lt. Duwayne Robinson with the Michigan State Police says state officials want to make sure all polling places are clear of any fear or intimidation.

 

OHIO: RECORD COVID CASES - Ohio set a new record high for coronavirus cases Thursday, marking the second day in a row the state hit a new high and the third time in less than a week (Columbus Dispatch). Another 2,178 Ohioans tested positive for COVID-19 as of Thursday, bringing the statewide total to 175,843, according to the Ohio Department of Health. The previous daily case record, set Wednesday, was 2,039. Before Wednesday, Ohio's record was 1,840 new cases and was set last Friday. "This is in stark contrast to not too long ago, September 20th, barely a month ago when we had 726 cases," Gov. Mike DeWine said on Thursday. "We've gone up dramatically in a relatively short period of time."

 

ILLINOIS: RECORD COVID CASES - Gov. JB Pritzker said Friday he is “deeply concerned” by the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Illinois, which has now seen two days in a row with a record for new cases (CBSChicago). The Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday reported 4,554 new cases — a new one-day record — along with 38 additional deaths. According to IDPH, the previous record for new cases in a single day in Illinois was 4,015 confirmed on Thursday. Before then, it was 4,014 cases reported on May 12. Indiana also set another record, confirming for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, more than 2,000 cases in a single day on Friday. The 4,554 new cases announced in Illinois represent 5.2% of the 87,759 tests reported on Friday. The statewide seven-day average positivity rate for Illinois now stands at 5.1%, the first time Illinois has met or surpassed a 5% rate since June 8.

 

Local

 

EVANSVILLE: WINNECKE OPPOSES COUNTY COVID RESTRICTIONS FOR NOW - The Vanderburgh County Health Board has voted to recommend tough new restrictions to stop of the recent surge of COVID-19 cases. However, Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke tells 14 News that he will not act on those recommendations at this time ((WFIE-TV). Instead, Mayor Winnecke said the city will proceed with his executive order, which takes effect Monday. In a virtual meeting on Thursday afternoon, the Vanderburgh County Health Board voted to recommend social gatherings and indoor sporting events with no more than 50 people. The board is also recommending 50% capacity for bars and restaurants. Bars would also be required to close at midnight. The mayor’s executive order requires that any social gathering over 125 people must be approved by the Vanderburgh County Health Department. Mayor Winnecke says the data he’s received from the state does not support restrictions on bars and restaurants at this time.

 

LAFAYETTE: PD OFFICER FIRED FOR NEO-NAZI CHAT — Lafayette Police Department shared Saturday that one of their recruit officers has been terminated after learning that he participated in a Neo-Nazi internet chat forum (WTHR-TV). Lafayette PD said they were "tagged" in a tweet that contained information specifically identifying a recruit officer, Joseph Zacharek, as a person who participated in a Neo-Nazi internet chat forum known as Iron March in 2016. The department said they immediately opened an investigation with their Internal Affairs Division to determine if the information was credible and they found that it was accurate. "Officer Zacharek’s comments were not in harmony with the spirit of cooperation and inclusion in the community that the Lafayette Police Department values," the department wrote in a release.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: 2ND INMATE MURDERED IN JAIL - IMPD is conducting a death investigation after a Marion County Jail inmate was found dead overnight (WTHR-TV). The Sheriff's Office identified the dead man as James Smith, 51, who is from Sullivan County. Smith was found unresponsive early Saturday morning, Oct. 17, and pronounced dead by medics just after 1 a.m. according to a statement released by the jail. The cause of death appears to be an inmate-on-inmate stabbing with an improvised weapon, according jail authorities. The Marion County Coroner’s Office and county crime lab will work to determine an official cause of death. Smith had been transferred to multiple housing locations for using racially-charged language toward fellow inmates. according to the jail's report of the incident. He had been assigned to a single cell before he died.

 

BLOOMINGTON: KIRKWOOD CLOSURES EXPANDED - Bloomington is expanding the Kirkwood Avenue closure to motor traffic from a weekend event to an everyday occurrence (Indiana Public Media). The closure started as a pilot program in mid-June to allow downtown restaurants to offer safer outdoor dining for patrons during the coronavirus pandemic. Mayor John Hamilton said that service will now be 24/7 from now until Dec. 31. “We’ve been working very closely with the merchants’ association to close those [streets] to allow them to continue to use outdoor space through the end of the year,” Hamilton said. “And that lets them invest in a little more infrastructure.”

 

MICHIGAN CITY: BEACH CLOSURE HAS MERCHANTS REELING - Michigan City has an outlet mall, a casino, a gaggle of arts galleries and a cluster of air compressor factories. But at its heart, the lakefront city in LaPorte County is a beach town (Pete, NWI Times). Now's the time of year when the crowds no longer flock to the Lake Michigan beachfront for surf and sun. Many businesses — especially downtown — shorten their hours, lighten their staff and even close up on more days of the week. But Michigan City businesses that rely heavily on the annual seasonal influx of out-of-town visitors saw tourism never got to have a beach season this year. The beach was closed much of the summer or restricted to just LaPorte County residents to limit the spread of the coronavirus that's killed more than 215,000 Americans so far this year. Michigan City merchants reported big drop-offs in business, seeing revenue fall by as much as 70% without the usual beach crowds.

 

GARY: SANITARY DISTRICT PROPOSES TRASH FEE HIKE — The Sanitary District is seeking approval for a significant garbage collection rate hike — a move the district says is critical to pay down finance-straining debt, pay Republic Services what it's owed and continue cleanup services (Cross, NWI Times). Tony Walker, sanitary district attorney, said GSD has long used funds — arguably restricted for wastewater treatment — to cover its deficit, including payments to Republic Services for trash collection. “This is a deficit they’ve been carrying annually and part of the commitment that Mayor (Jerome) Prince made coming into office in January was that he was going to be serious about balancing the city’s budgets, not running a deficit, and being fiscally responsible,” Walker said. “We want to be aligning our expenses with our revenue.”

 

PORTAGE: COUNCIL TO BORROW $5M TO PAY PAST-DUE BILLS — The City Council is planning to borrow up to $5.35 million to get caught up on past-due bills, finish projects and help with cash flow. Clerk-Treasurer Nina Rivas, who took office in January, said the city has been hit with a series of “surprise bills” from previous years (Ross, NWI Times). “We’re working on bank reconcilements going back to 2017,” she told the City Council last week. “I’ve been working with the State Board of Accounts to clean up an erroneous equipment lease fund that’s got $1 million in it that’s not really there.”