THOMPSON NAMED WAYS & MEANS CHAIR: House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, announced Friday that Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Lizton, will be the next chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. “Jeff’s technical expertise and command of complex policy issues makes him the right choice to take the reins of this critical committee,” Huston said (Capital Chronicle). “He’s an invaluable asset to our team and I’m excited for him to take on this leadership role. I’m confident he’ll not only hit the ground running, but also help us build on Indiana’s strong track record of fiscal responsibility and economic momentum.” Thompson replaces Ways and Means Chair State Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, who is retiring from the legislature in November after nearly 30 years of service. The Ways and Means committee is responsible for crafting the state’s two-year, $37 billion budget, and vetting bills with significant fiscal impact. The next budget-writing session will kick off in January. State agencies and offices are already prepping budget requests. “Indiana’s fiscal health is strong and our economy continues to outpace expectations, and that’s because of conservative leaders like Chairman Brown who supported policies that put Hoosier taxpayers first,” Thompson said. “He’s leaving behind big shoes to fill, but I’m thankful for this opportunity to continue to serve. I look forward to helping grow Indiana’s reputation as a destination for families, workers and businesses alike.”

 

MORALES WON'T DEBATE: Republican Secretary of State candidate Diego Morales is resisting calls to participate in a debate. Morales’s campaign said his focus is on traveling all 92 Indiana counties (Smith, Indiana Public Media). They point to interviews he’s done and note there are no congressional debates in Indiana this year, nor in other statewide races for state auditor and treasurer. Libertarian Secretary of State candidate Jeff Maurer said Morales is hiding. “If your ideas are so bad that you can’t even stand in front of a crowd of people, of your neighbors, to defend them, then something’s wrong. You need better ideas,” Maurer said. Democratic candidate Destiny Wells said voters care about debates. “It is a chance for the voter to easily access information in direct contrast to each other, instead of having to go root through the news and find each of our different policy positions through interviews,” Wells said. Wells and Maurer may participate in a debate next month without Morales.

 

BRIGGS ON MORALES 'HAZY' MILITARY RECORD: Diego Morales has opened a window into his military record. The view is still hazy. A few hours after I published a column on Morales' confusing history Wednesday, the Republican secretary of state candidate released his DD-214, a form that identifies a service member's condition of discharge. One day later, Morales also released an NGB-22, which is a record of service for the National Guard. The documents verify some details about Morales' service, indicating he spent a total of three months and 18 days on active duty as part of his training period, while also raising some questions (Briggs, IndyStar). I've requested an interview with Morales to talk about his time in the military. The campaign said it would get back to me on that. In the meantime, the Morales campaign and the Indiana Republican Party issued a statement taking exception to inquiries into Morales' military career. “Indiana Democrats and their allies in the media have reached a new low," the statement, attributed to state Republican chair Kyle Hupfer, said. “Rather than talk about the failing policies of out-of-control Democrat leadership in Washington, D.C., they’ve decided to act as judge and jury over what is and isn’t honorable service to our state and nation. Their attacks on Diego’s service in the Indiana National Guard are extremely disappointing. Diego — like thousands of Hoosiers — has honorably served our state and nation, and we at the Indiana Republican Party are thankful for this service and dedication. As Indiana’s next secretary of state, Diego will continue this proud career of service.”

 

BANKS SEEKING WHIP POSITION: The race for House majority whip in the next Congress is so heated that the three Republican candidates are already recruiting their own whips. Emissaries for the whip contenders — Reps. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.) — are helping drum up support among GOP colleagues if Republicans win back the majority in November, as expected (Politico). The trio’s strategies for rounding up support in the race for what would be the No. 3 House GOP position are starting to diverge as they seep into view, from one-on-one meetings to group sessions. Banks — who chairs the Republican Study Committee, the largest House GOP caucus — has expanded beyond one-on-one member meetings and staffer-to-staffer calls by convening whip race strategy talks. Three separate Republicans confirmed that a group of Banks allies huddled on Wednesday, and one said it was that group’s fourth or fifth meeting related to whip strategy. Among the handful of members present at the Banks meeting were freshmen Reps. Troy Nehls (R-Texas), Mary Miller (R-Ill.) and August Pfluger (R-Texas), as well as Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.). Republicans familiar with the gathering said House chiefs of staff and other congressional aides represented the largest contingent of attendees. “Banks has demonstrated himself as a very effective leader as the chair of the RSC,” Nehls said on Wednesday in a brief interview. “When he asked me for my help, my support, I said, ‘You’re the guy. I think you’ll do a great job.’” The pro-Banks group, led by the congressman and his chief of staff, discussed where other whip candidates stood during their meeting, according to attendees, and concluded that Emmer was gaining ground after an unofficial and delayed start to his campaign. But Banks’ team remains optimistic about his chances in the race, including raising the potential for a second ballot. “They feel pretty good,” said one person who attended the meeting. “There’ll be a lot of focus on Emmer because we’re in the final couple weeks of the campaign. But Banks has put together a really effective effort,” said one senior House Republican. “So this is a dynamic race.”

 

SPEEDING, DRIVING LEFT OF CENTER BLAMED FOR WALORSKI CRASH: The Aug. 3 crash that killed U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski resulted from her driver, 27-year-old Zachery Potts, drifting left of center at over 80 mph, according to a Friday media release by the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office (Indiana Public Media). Analysis of Walorski’s vehicle air bag control module showed that it was traveling 82 mph five seconds before the crash. It also showed that the vehicle steered left just before the crash, which is consistent with eyewitness testimony. The Elkhart Truth reported that Walorski's car was attempting to pass a truck. After investigating the cell phones of the passengers of both vehicles, the Sheriff’s office determined that they weren’t used before or at the time of the crash. Walorski, Potts, and Walorki’s communications director Emma Thomson, 28, all died in the crash. The driver of the other car, Edith Schmucker, 56, also was killed.

 

JAN. 6 PANEL TO HOLD SEPT. HEARING: The House Jan. 6 committee plans to hold a hearing late this month and release early findings and recommendations before the election (Axios). Despite the panel's long-stated goal of avoiding perceptions of partisanship or politicization, a noisy October could impact the midterms. The committee will meet virtually today to plan the rest of their schedule, including upcoming hearings, members told Axios. "We sunset Dec. 31," Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told reporters this week. Members told Axios that while their final report will likely come after the election, plenty of news could be made before. Thompson told Axios the time between an expected Sept. 28 hearing and the election "won't be a quiet period": "The goal is to have … some information pushed out, obviously, before the November election." The panel may release its interim report in that window.

 

COATS HAD CONCERNS ABOUT TRUMP BEHAVIOR AT HELSINKI: A former Director of National Intelligence was so concerned about Donald Trump's behavior at a summit with Vladimir Putin that he believed Russia might have compromising information on him, a new book says. The claim came in snippets from "The Divider" by New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker and New Yorker staff writer and CNN global affairs analyst Susan Glasser (Yahoo News). According to the authors, Trump's behavior as president raised alarm among top officials, including Dan Coats, then the DNI. Officials wondered about the root of Trump's hostility to NATO as president per the book. The authors say Trump made more serious efforts to withdraw the US from the alliance than was previously known. Splintering the NATO alliance has long been one of Russia's main strategic goals. Coats, the book said, was also troubled by Trump's behavior at his 2018 summit in Helsinki with Putin, where he publicly backed the Russian president's assertion that Russia had not meddled in the 2016 election. In doing so, Trump contradicted his own intelligence agencies. "I never could come to a conclusion. It raised the question in everybody's mind: What does Putin have on him that causes him to do something that undermines his credibility?" Coats told an associate, the book says.

 

FIGHTING INTENSIFIES IN KHERSON: The pressure on Russian forces in southern Ukraine deepened over the weekend as Ukrainian forces conducted strikes on Russian military strongholds, targeted sites used by local officials loyal to the Kremlin and continued to hit the supply lines for thousands of Russian soldiers on the western bank of the Dnipro River (New York Times). A missile strike in the Russian-controlled southern Ukrainian city of Kherson leveled a cotton mill that was used as a Russian base, Ukrainian officials said on Sunday, after taking credit for an attack on a courthouse downtown that served as a headquarters for the Kremlin-backed military administration. Another challenge to Russia’s claim that it has full control of the security situation in the city came late Saturday, when a firefight broke out in the streets of the city and continued overnight, according to video released by Russian military bloggers. Kherson remains the only regional capital in Ukraine captured by Moscow since the invasion.

 

WAR COMES TO RUSSIAN CITIES: After a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive in the northeast of the country, the messy war that Russian President Vladimir Putin started is now being fought directly on his doorstep, with artillery strikes hitting military targets in Russia and Russian officials in cities and towns along the border ordering hasty evacuations (Washington Post). On Saturday, a new round of strikes hit the Belgorod region in Western Russia, killing at least one person and wounding two. On Friday, Ukraine reportedly struck the base of the Russian 3rd Motorized Rifle Division near Valuyki, just nine miles north of the Russia—Ukraine border. Russian officials did not acknowledge that a military target was hit but said one civilian died, and the local electrical grid experienced a temporary disruption.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: If you refuse to debate your opponent in Indiana these days, you've either been drawn into such a heavily partisan district that it won't matter, or you've got something to hide in a tossup race. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

TRUMP MOCKS VANCE AT MAGA RALLY: Former President Trump drew more than 6,000 fans for a rally Saturday evening in this industrial northeast Ohio city — and mocked venture capitalist J.D. Vance, his pick in the state’s surprisingly tight U.S. Senate race, in the process (Yahoo News). “J.D. is kissing my ass. Of course he wants my support,” Trump told the crowd. “The entire MAGA movement is for J.D. Vance,” he added. Trump has intervened in dozens of Republican primaries across the country this year. Many of the candidates he backed, including Vance, went on to win their party’s nomination. But some Republicans in Washington have questioned whether Trump’s picks, who often have strong appeal to his base, can succeed in November, when they will have to compete for swing voters.

 

BOWERS SAYS GOP RESORTING TO 'FACISM': The outgoing Republican speaker of the Arizona House says Trump-backed GOP candidates might send the country “back into the dark ages” if they win key midterm races and help enact laws to make it easier to overturn elections – which he said was tantamount to “fascism” (CNN). Rusty Bowers made the comments in an interview for an upcoming CNN special report by Jake Tapper, “American Coup: The January 6th Investigation.” The documentary, which details the major bombshells from Congress’ exhaustive inquiry into the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, premieres on CNN on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET. “The legislature, after the election, could dismiss the election,” Bowers said in describing the proposal that he ordered all 12 state House committees to consider, virtually ensuring it would never get a vote. “And I said, welcome to fascism.”

 

NH'S BOLDEC REVERSES STANCE ON STOLEN ELECTION: New Hampshire Republican Senate nominee Don Bolduc on Thursday said the 2020 presidential election was not stolen, reversing course after claiming during his primary that former President Trump won (The Hill). During an appearance on Fox News’s “America’s Newsroom,” host Dana Perino asked Bolduc if he still stood by a letter he signed with 123 other retired generals and admirals casting doubt on the election. “I’ve spent the past couple of weeks talking to Granite Staters all over the state, from every party, and I have come to the conclusion — and I want to be definitive on this — the election was not stolen,” Bolduc said.

 

State

 

FSSA: PENN TO HEAD EARLY CHILDHOOD UNIT - The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration today announced that Courtney Penn has been named director of the Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning. She is currently OECOSL’s director of child care licensing (Howey Politics Indiana). “We are excited to have an individual with Courtney’s passion for and deep expertise in early childhood education as our next OECOSL leader,” said Dan Rusyniak, M.D., FSSA Secretary. “Courtney’s focus in using her team’s expertise to meet early learning goals will bring a high level of support to the OECOSL team to improve the access to and quality of the child care and early education system in Indiana.” Penn brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the early childhood education field. She has an undergraduate degree in child development and family life from Indiana State University and a master’s degree from Eastern Illinois University in human development, which spans across all age groups from infancy on. She has worked in direct child care services as a Head Start teacher and center director. Courtney has also done statewide and national-level work at the Indiana Association for Child Care Resource and Referral, Early Learning Indiana, SPARK Learning Lab and Child Care Aware of America. FSSA also announced that Courtney Hott will serve as director of the Early Learning Advisory Council.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL: ROKITA SPEAKS AT IMMIGRATION SUMMIT - Illegal immigration affects Indiana, too says Attorney General Todd Rokita. He’s at the We Are All Border States Summit to hear from law enforcement from Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Wisconsin (WIBC). “Illegal immigration directly impacts all our states, so we must fix the problem given to us by the federal government,” said Rokita, delivering opening remarks. “And, we must hold the federal government accountable for doing its job under the Constitution.”

 

BIG 10: IU HOLDS OFF WESTERN KY 33-30 IN OT - The Hoosiers held off Western Kentucky 33-30 in overtime on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in a game that was glorious in its absurdity, but the list of mishaps and mistakes they made that could have and probably should have cost them the game is extensive (IndyStar). IU surrendered 545 yards of total offense, including a gaudy 216 rushing yards that came largely from missed assignments. They failed to score touchdowns on four drives that drove inside the Western Kentucky 20-yard line, three that turned into field goals and a 10-play, 61-yard drive that was negated because an incomplete lateral was ruled a fumble and running back Shaun Shivers didn't realize at the time that he needed to secure the ball on the ground.

 

BIG 10: SYRACUSE NIPS PURDUE 32-29 - Garrett Shrader connected with Oronde Gadsden II on a 25-yard touchdown with seven seconds left to lift Syracuse to a 32-29 win over Purdue on Saturday (ESPN). “They threw a corner route, completed it in the corner against man-to-man coverage. It was in the end zone and they scored on it,” Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said. “They did a good job of executing.” That touchdown capped a wild fourth quarter of dramatic lead changes. Syracuse led 10-9 after three quarters and outscored the Boilermakers 22-20 in the final period. The Orange improved to 3-0, its best start since 2018. Purdue fell to 1-2.

 

NCAAF: NOTRE DAME BEATS CAL 24-17 - Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman finally got his first victory. It wasn’t easy (ESPN). Drew Pyne passed for two touchdowns and 150 yards in his first career start and Notre Dame overcame numerous mistakes to hold on to beat California 24-17 Saturday. Freeman was asked what was going through his mind when two potentially game-clinching turnovers were overturned, one on a targeting penalty and another when Cal quarterback Jack Plummer was ruled down before he fumbled. “It was a conversation between me and God, and a conversation between me and myself to focus on what matters,” Freeman said.

 

MAC: BSU THUMPS MURRAY STATE 31-0 - A win's a win, right? Ball State, above all else, needed a victory Saturday after starting the season 0-2 (IndyStar). The Cardinals (1-2, 0-1 MAC) got one in a 31-0 victory over Football Championship Subdivision opponent Murray State (0-3). It wasn't the prettiest game — just look at the first half offensively — but Ball State won handily to avoid falling to 0-3 on the year.

 

NFL: McLAUGHLIN TO KICK FOR COLTS TODAY - The Colts are going with the known commodity (IndyStar). Indianapolis has elevated veteran kicker Chase McLaughlin from the practice squad to the active roster, making McLaughlin the winner of this week’s battle to replace Rodrigo Blankenship, who was waived after botching two kickoffs and missing the game-winning 42-yard field goal in overtime in Houston. The battle between McLaughlin and undrafted rookie Lucas Havrisik began in a seven-kicker tryout Tuesday and continued throughout the week.

 

Congress

 

HOOSIER FENTANYL ADVOCATES MEET WITH BANKS: Theresa Juillerat, co-founder of Justice Accountability and Victims Advocacy (JAVA), Nate Moellering, Community Outreach Director for Fort Wayne Recovery and Allendale Treatment, and Brandi Shepherd founder of Walking in Awareness and Recovery, spoke at a Republican Study Committee roundtable hosted by Rep. Jim Banks about the harm caused by fentanyl in northeast Indiana and their work combatting the opioid epidemic (Howey Politics Indiana). Said Rep. Banks: “Yesterday, was one of the most powerful conversations I have had during my time in Congress. My oldest daughter just turned 13 earlier this month, and just like every parent in this country, I am terrified by the prevalence of this drug in our schools and communities. That is why I introduced the Protecting Kids from Candy-Flavored Drugs Act and will continue to work with my colleagues to address this deadly crisis.  Thank you to Theresa, Nate, and Bradi for traveling to Washington to share their story with myself and lawmakers from across the country.”

 

TRUMP ACCOUNTING RECORDS RELEASED: Mazars USA, the longtime accounting firm for former President Donald J. Trump that cut ties with him and his family business this year, has begun turning over documents related to his financial dealings to Congress (New York Times). After a yearslong legal fight, the House Oversight Committee has received a first trove of documents from the firm, which recently entered into a legal settlement agreeing to produce a range of financial documents from several years before Mr. Trump took office and during his early presidency. Mazars said in February it could no longer stand behind a decade of annual financial statements it had prepared for the Trump Organization. More tranches of documents are expected to follow. “They have sent us a number of documents,” Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and chairwoman of the committee, said in an interview Saturday. “We’re reviewing them.”

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN WARNS RUSS ON NUKES - U.S. President Joe Biden urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to not use tactical nuclear or chemical weapons in the wake of setbacks in Ukraine, in a CBS News interview to air on Sunday (Yahoo News). Ukraine's military drove back Russian forces in a lightning rout in the northeast of the country this week, putting Putin under pressure from nationalists at home to regain the initiative. Putin has warned that Moscow would respond more forcefully if its troops were put under further pressure, raising concerns that he could at some point use unconventional means like small nuclear or chemical weapons. Asked by a "60 Minutes" reporter what he would say to Putin if he was considering using such weapons, Biden said: "Don't. Don't. Don't. It would change the face of war unlike anything since World War Two," in a clip of the interview released by CBS on Saturday.

 

PENTAGON: CHINESE SUPPLIES LIMITED - The Pentagon is intensifying efforts to decouple U.S. defense companies’ sprawling global supply chain from China, executives and department officials said (Wall Street Journal). The Defense Department said it has started using artificial intelligence to improve the way it analyzes whether aircraft parts, electronics and raw materials used by U.S. military contractors originate in China and other potential adversaries. Defense contractors, encouraged by the Pentagon and lawmakers, have said they are weaning themselves off microelectronics and specialized metals from China, one of the biggest global suppliers. In the U.S., new facilities are under development to process rare-earth minerals, most of which remain widely sourced from China.

 

EDUCATION: 10 BLUE RIBBON SCHOOLS IN INDIANA - Ten Indiana schools were recognized Friday as 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona (WISH-TV). “The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups,” the Department of Education said in a statement. The Indiana schools named National Blue Ribbon Schools were: Brownsburg: Eagle Elementary School; Dale: David Turnham Education Center; Fort Wayne: Fred H. Croninger Elementary School; Indianapolis: Cathedral High School; Indianapolis: Christ the King Catholic School; Kokomo: Northwestern Senior High School; Munster: James B. Eads Elementary School; Plainfield: Brentwood Elementary School; Valparaiso: Central Elementary School; Valparaiso: Saint Paul Catholic School. “Blue Ribbon Schools have gone above and beyond to keep students healthy and safe while meeting their academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs,” Secretary Cardona said. “These schools show what is possible to make an enduring, positive difference in students’ lives.”

 

Sunday Talk

 

WORLD BANK PRESIDENT CITES IMMENSE ENERGY PROBLEM FOR EUROPE: World Bank President David Malpass said in a radio interview on Sunday that Europe is experiencing an “immense” energy crisis and that the U.S. should increase its energy production to counteract the problem. “Europe’s dependency on Russian oil and natural gas and coal has become immense,” Malpass told host John Catsimatidis on “Cats Roundtable – WABC 770 AM”. He continued, “As you think about who has the potential to make much more — whether it’s clean fuel, cleaner fuels like natural gas, whether it’s better transmission techniques in the electricity sector — it’s the U.S. because it’s got the most capital available and can marshal that capital into these sectors.”

 

Local

 

CLARKSVILLE: SETTLES SUIT WITH DOJ - Clarksville officials have agreed on a proposed consent decree with the Department of Justice to settle a federal lawsuit against the town (WVPE). The DOJ filed the lawsuit against Clarksville officials in April, after a man claimed the town violated his civil rights by rescinding a job offer with the police department because he has HIV. The man, who applied for the position in 2015, had already been working as a volunteer reserve officer with the department for more than a year. “No individual should be subject to employment discrimination based on their HIV status,” Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general with the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “The complainant’s dream job was taken away because of unfounded assumptions that his HIV diagnosis would impact his ability to safely do the job. This settlement reflects the Justice Department’s firm commitment to enforcing the rights of job applicants and employees who experience unlawful discrimination based on disability.”

 

INDIANAPOLIS: CORONER TO BURY 177 REMAINS — The Marion County Coroner's Office and He Knows Your Name ministry will bury the remains of 171 adults who died between 2006-2019 (WRTV). During a joint press conference on Friday, the organizations said the remains will be buried at 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 26 at Antioch Indy Community Church and Oaklawn Memorial Gardens. The public is invited to attend. You can view a list of unidentified and unclaimed decedents in the county online.

 

SULLIVAN COUNTY: SUSPICIOUS FIRES IN SHELBURN — Fire investigators are seeking information regarding suspicious fires in the town of Shelburn in Sullivan County (WRTV). There have been six unexplained fires in the area since July 5, 2022. Two of the fires happened within an hour of each other on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. Anyone with information about the fires is encouraged to call the Indiana Arson Hotline at 1-800-382-4628. Callers are not required to provide their name.