HOLCOMB CAMPAIGN PUSHES ABSENTEE VOTING: Despite President Trump's railing against vote by mail, Gov. Eric Holcomb's reelection campaign is pushing absentee balloting for its supporters (Howey Politics Indiana). In an email to supporters, the campaign said, "If you are thinking about voting absentee this year, we want to make sure that you have all the resources you need to make that happen. Our crew pulled together all the relevant reasons, deadlines, and resources you’ll need! Voting absentee by-mail is secure - with longtime protocols in place that protect the sanctity of your vote." It noted there are the 11 requirements for requesting an absentee by-mail ballot. These reasons were established by the Indiana General Assembly.

 

MERRITT EYES 2024 GUBERNATORIAL RUN: State Sen. Jim Merritt will leave the Indiana Senate in November, but he's not retiring. "I don't like the term 'retiring,'" he told Howey Politics Indiana Tuesday morning. "I want to take some time, write a book or two and test the waters for '24. I still have a lot of juice in the tank." Specifically, his reference to 2024 was a potentially open gubernatorial seat, assuming Gov. Eric Holcomb wins in November. Merritt lost the 2019 Indianapolis mayoral race to Democrat Joe Hogsett. "It was difficult running for mayor from the Senate," he said.

 

PANDEMIC WORSENS OPIOID CRISIS: When Covid-19 struck, the U.S. was already in the grip of an expanding drug-overdose crisis. It has only gotten worse since then (Wall Street Journal). Counties in states spanning the country, from Washington to Arizona and Florida, are reporting rising drug fatalities this year, according to data collected by The Wall Street Journal. This follows a likely record number of deadly overdoses in the U.S. last year, with more than 72,000 people killed, according to federal projections. The pandemic has destabilized people trying to maintain sobriety or who are struggling with addiction during a time of increased social isolation and stress, according to treatment providers and public-health authorities. In a survey of U.S. adults released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13% of respondents in June said they had started or increased substance use to deal with stress or emotions related to Covid-19. Federal overdose data has yet to catch up to the pandemic months. Counties in Nevada, California, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota and Michigan are among those showing increases.

 

ASTRAZENECA PAUSES COVID STUDY: Late-stage studies of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate are on temporary hold while the company investigates whether a recipient’s “potentially unexplained” illness is a side effect of the shot (AP). It is a study the Indiana University School of Medicine is participating. In a statement issued Tuesday evening, the company said its “standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data.” AstraZeneca didn’t reveal any information about the possible side effect except to call it “a potentially unexplained illness.” The health news site STAT first reported the pause in testing, saying the possible side effect occurred in the United Kingdom.

 

VOORHIES OPTIMISTIC ABOUT 'NEW NAFTA': Despite a two-decade decline in membership, one Indiana labor leader says there are reasons for optimism in union halls throughout the state (Dick, Inside Indiana Business). AFL-CIO Indiana President Brett Voorhies says one reason for his positive outlook is the recent passage of the “new NAFTA,” the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement that Voorhies believes can lead to more Hoosier manufacturing jobs. “NAFTA was certainly a job killer for most,” said Voorhies, emphasizing “the new NAFTA has a long way to go, but it’s certainly headed in the right direction on bringing more manufacturing here and preventing it from going overseas.” Voorhies says another bright spot for labor is construction activity throughout the state, which he says has remained strong during the pandemic, boosting the state’s building trades. “It’s gotten to the point to where some of the trades can’t get enough apprentices to come in and work,” said Voorhies, who adds that demand is fueling additional training and educational opportunities for workers.

 

PHARMA CEOs MAKE VACCINE PLEDGE: The chief executives of nine drug companies pledged Tuesday not to seek regulatory approval before the safety and efficacy of their experimental coronavirus vaccines have been established in Phase 3 clinical trials, an extraordinary effort to bolster public faith in a vaccine amid President Trump’s rush to introduce one before Election Day (Washington Post). “We believe this pledge will help ensure public confidence in the rigorous scientific and regulatory process by which covid-19 vaccines are evaluated and may ultimately be approved,” the executives wrote in their joint statement. The executives signing the pledge included the leaders of AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, and Novavax, as well as those heading two joint vaccine projects, Pfizer and BioNTech, and Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline.

 

25% OF IU GREEKS TEST POSITIVE: Indiana University is reporting COVID-19 mitigation testing across all IU campuses at 6.14 percent. Testing at the Bloomington campus is 7.26 percent. The report calls the increasing positive results from Greek houses 'concerning' - almost 25 percent of the 1,400 students tested positive (Indiana Public Media). The positivity rate among residence halls was 3.6 percent of the 4,200 students tested. IU updated it's COVID-19 dashboard Tuesday after testing students, faculty, and staff at all IU campuses the week of August 31. Testing focused on students living in residence halls and other communal housing such as Greek houses so the university could quickly identify and isolate positive cases.

 

STURGIS RALLY BECAME A SUPER SPREADER EVENT: The coronavirus outbreak tied to the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, ended up generating more than $12 billion in public health costs, according to a new discussion paper (Axios). The analysis puts a point on just how bad these superspreader events can be — and the difficulty of preventing them solely with voluntary policies. The annual rally was held this year over 10 days in August, and included a Smash Mouth concert. The nearly 500,000 attendees came from all over the country, and social distancing and mask-wearing were mostly optional. The rally led to 266,796 additional cases, or 19% of the new cases in the U.S. between Aug. 2 and Sept. 2., the paper found. The event led to a 35% increase in cases in South Dakota. In counties that are home to the highest number of rally attendees, cases rose by 10.7% compared to counties without any attendees.

 

HHS SAYS RUSSIA SPREADING DISINFORMATION ON BIDEN: The Department of Homeland Security has found that Russia is spreading disinformation regarding former Vice President Joe Biden’s mental health, according to a DHS bulletin. ABC News previously reported that DHS withheld publication of an intelligence bulletin warning law enforcement agencies of a Russian scheme to promote “allegations about the poor mental health” of Biden. The draft bulletin, titled “Russia Likely to Denigrate Health of US Candidates to Influence 2020 Election,” was submitted to the agency’s legislative and public affairs office for review on July 7. The analysis was not meant for public consumption, but it was set to be distributed to federal, state and local law enforcement partners two days later, on July 9, the emails show. It was not -- and after an uproar in the media an updated version of the bulletin was released Tuesday, providing details on what the Russian operation looks like.

 

COHEN SUGGESTS TRUMP RESIGNATION; ‘PRESIDENT PENCE’ PARDON: President Donald Trump's ex-fixer, Michael Cohen, told NBC News in an exclusive interview that he believes his former boss is a racist "cult leader" who would be wise to resign before he's faced with potential criminal charges. Cohen spoke with NBC News' Lester Holt ahead of the release Tuesday of his new book, "Disloyal: a Memoir," which discusses his experience working for Trump. "In the book, obviously, I describe Mr. Trump as a cult leader, and I was in this cult," Cohen said. Cohen began serving a three-year prison sentence last year after a conviction for financial crimes and lying to Congress. He was released in July to serve the rest of the sentence from home because of the coronavirus pandemic. Cohen turned on Trump as he was under federal investigation in 2018 and later gave dramatic testimony before Congress lambasting the president. The White House has dismissed Cohen's book as "fan fiction." "He readily admits to lying routinely but expects people to believe him now so that he can make money from book sales," White House deputy press secretary Brian Morgenstern said in a statement.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: In Thursday's weekly edition of Howey Politics Indiana, we'll survey the pandemic after six months, plus what to expect on Election Night, or, perhaps, Election Week. Look for it around 9 a.m. tomorrow. - Brian A. Howey



Campaigns

 

HALE/SPARTZ TOWN HALL SET FOR SEPT. 22: The Indiana Town Halls debate fearing 5th CD nominees Christina Hale and Victoria Spartz will be broadcast live over WFYI TV at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 and live streamed (Howey Politics Indiana). Jim Shella will moderate.

 

SUPER PAC BEGINS TV ADS V. SPARTZ: The Women Voters PAC has entered the 5th CD race, aiming negative ads against Republican nominee Victoria Spartz, who it describes as a pawn of "big insurance" (Howey Politics Indiana), "She's proven to put big insurance before kids," the ad says.

 

ISTA ENDORSES WEINZAPFEL: Jonathan Weinzapfel, Democratic nominee for Indiana Attorney General, welcomed the endorsement of more than 40,000 Hoosier educators from across the state (Howey Politics Indiana). The Indiana State Teachers Association’s Political Action Committee for Education, an affiliate of the National Education Association, officially endorsed Weinzapfel’s candidacy for attorney general.  “As a son of an educator, a parent, a former leader in higher education and as someone who cares deeply about the quality of education we are providing our kids, this endorsement means a lot,” said Weinzapfel, a former Ivy Tech Chancellor and Evansville Mayor. “There is no more important job out there than that of a teacher. And, as Attorney General I am going to do everything I can to support them as well as our students and parents.”

 

WEINZAPFEL ADDRESSES EVANSVILLE ROTARY: Former Evansville Mayor and now Democratic candidate for Indiana Attorney General Jonathan Weinzapfel spoke at the Evansville Rotary Club meeting at Tropicana Tuesday afternoon. Weinzapfel says he wants to bring integrity back to the office of the attorney general (WFIE-TV). He also spoke on wanting to protect health care for Hoosiers, protecting their rights to vote, and accomplishing those goals in a bipartisan way. Weinzapfel says he wants to see changes in criminal justice reform. “It’s important that we take a look at decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana, that we look to approve cannabis for medicinal purposes," said Weinzapfel. "I would also like to see that we’re devoting more resources through an opioid settlement agreement with manufacturers and distributors, devoting more resources to drug addiction counseling and treatment. I think that goes a long way to helping with our incarceration rates.”

 

Presidential 2020

 

BIDEN SEEKS TO REBUILD THE BLUE WALL: This year, Joe Biden is trying to rebuild the blue wall (AP). The Democratic presidential nominee’s first pandemic-era campaign trips beyond his home in Delaware are taking him to all three states, an indication of how closely Biden’s electoral prospects are tied to his ability to flip those political battlegrounds. Last week, Biden traveled to Wisconsin and was followed quickly by running mate Kamala Harris, who held her own events there on Labor Day. On Wednesday, Biden heads to Michigan to tout a plan for boosting U.S. manufacturing. He also has two stops scheduled this week in Pennsylvania.

 

NBC/MARIST HAS BIDEN UP 9% IN PA:  Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump by a 9-point margin among likely voters in Pennsylvania, a key swing state where Biden was born, according to a new NBC News/Marist poll. The survey finds that Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, get the support of 53 percent of likely Pennsylvania voters, compared with 44 percent who back Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. In 2016, Trump barely bested Hillary Clinton in the state by less than 1 percentage point.

 

TRUMP, BIDEN TIED IN NBC/MARIST POLL IN FLA: President Donald Trump and Joe Biden are close to tied in Florida, tightening the gap in a critical swing state, according to a poll released on Tuesday (Politico). The NBC News/Marist poll showed support for the Republican and Democratic tickets evenly split, at 48 percent each, among likely voters in the state. Among registered voters, 47 percent supported Biden’s ticket while 48 percent supported Trump’s — comfortably inside the margin of sampling error.

 

BIDEN LEADS TRUMP IN RASMUSSEN OHIO POLL: Democratic nominee Joe Biden holds a four-point lead over President Trump in Ohio, a state that historically has been a must-win for Republicans. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone and online survey of Likely Voters in the Buckeye State finds Biden leading the president 49% to 45%. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate, while another three percent (3%) remain undecided.

 

BIG10 FOOTBALL BECOMES AN ISSUE: College football has become a key political issue as the 2020 election approaches, and the impending NFL season will only ratchet up the intensity around empty stadiums and player protests (Axios Sports). Football is America's most popular sport. Considering 43 of the top 50 most-watched TV broadcasts last year were football games, it's arguably our most popular form of entertainment, period. Now both parties are trying to tie the season postponement by the Big Ten conference — the Midwest powerhouse that includes Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska — to their own political narratives. Crazy stat: 69 of the 77 major schools playing football this fall (89.6%) are in states that supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election, per Sportico. In Big Ten markets, Joe Biden has been running ads featuring images of empty football stadiums. "Donald Trump put our nation on the sidelines. Let's get back in the game," Biden tweeted. President Trump tweeted: "Disgraceful that Big Ten is not playing football. Let them PLAY!"

 

TRUMP'S LOST SUMMER: President Donald Trump spent the summer trailing in national polls, losing in swing states and bleeding suburban voters to Joe Biden. His campaign response: doubling down on his base, via his favorite TV channel, Fox News (Politico). While the Trump campaign chopped its TV spending throughout the summer, even going dark on the airwaves on multiple occasions, the campaign maintained a heavy presence on Fox. According to Advertising Analytics, an ad-tracking firm, the Trump campaign spent more money on national ads on Fox News in June, July and August ($9.4 million) than it spent on local broadcast TV in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin ($8.3 million). Trump spent an additional $9.7 million advertising in Pennsylvania, another key state he flipped in 2016, over the same time period.

 

BIDEN FLAGGING WITH FLORIDA LATINO VOTERS: Four years after getting trounced in Miami-Dade County by Hillary Clinton, President Donald Trump has increased his odds of victory in his must-win home state on Nov. 3 by improving his standing in Florida’s most populous county, according to a poll by Bendixen & Amandi International and the Miami Herald. The poll of 500 likely Miami-Dade voters, released Tuesday, found Trump far behind Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden 38% to 55% in Miami-Dade, where Democrats typically need to run up the score in order to compete in statewide races. That 17-point deficit is well outside the poll’s 4.4 percentage point margin of error. But Trump doesn’t need to win Miami-Dade. He just needs to do better in the Democratic-leaning county to offset possible losses in other parts of Florida.  In 2016, he lost Miami-Dade to Hillary Clinton by 30 points — about 290,000 votes — but won the state by 1.2% of the total vote. “If you’re the Biden campaign, looking at these numbers, I think there’s reason for pause,” said Fernand Amandi, the Miami-based pollster and Democratic strategist behind the poll.

 

TRUMP MAY PUT MONEY INTO CAMPAIGN: President Trump said on Tuesday he was considering putting his own money into the 2020 campaign — “If I have to, I will,” he said — as his campaign manager did not dispute a report that his campaign is facing a cash crunch (New York Times). Of the $1.1 billon his campaign and the party raised from the beginning of 2019 through July, more than $800 million has already been spent. Now some people inside the campaign are forecasting what was once unthinkable: a cash crunch with less than 60 days until the election, according to Republican officials briefed on the matter. Mr. Trump put more than $50 million into his 2016 primary run but declined to fund his campaign in the general election. He has not put any of his own funds into his 2020 campaign so far. “Whatever it takes, we have to win,” Mr. Trump told reporters as he prepared to depart on a trip to Florida. He later wrote on Twitter that he did not expect to need to put in his own money, writing “If more money is needed, which I doubt it will be, I will put it up!”

 

OBAMA, HARRIS TALK ABOUT JOE: Former President Barack Obama sat down with vice presidential pick Kamala Harris to discuss Joe Biden in their latest campaign video released Tuesday. "So tell me about Joe," Harris asked. "What do I need to know? Like what's the thing about the ice cream. He loves ice cream. Tell me about that," Harris continued, laughing (CBS News). Mr. Obama revealed that while his former vice president loved ice cream, pasta with red sauce was one of his favorites. "He can go deep on that," said Mr. Obama. In the five-minute-long clip — the duo's first public conversation together since Harris was selected — Mr. Obama joked about Biden with a light-hearted comment about his aviator sunglasses, before getting more serious. "But look, the main thing to know about Joe is that Joe has never lost his sense of why we do this," Mr. Obama said. "We do it because of you know for him, memories of his family back in Scranton and then the people of Delaware that he represented, the folks on the Amtrak train he met each and every day."

 

Congress

 

SENATE GOP OFFER SLIMMED-DOWN COVID RELIEF BILL: Senate Republicans unveiled a new "targeted" coronavirus relief proposal Tuesday, aiming for an opening vote on the floor this Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced (Fox News). The slimmed-down package is expected to spend about $300 billion in federal aid, according to McConnell's office. The bill includes an extra $300 per week in unemployment benefits through Dec. 27 -- down from the $600 weekly boost that expired at the end of July -- a second round of Paycheck Protection Program funds to small businesses worth $258 billion, $105 billion for schools and colleges, and McConnell's liability protection plan that would limit lawsuits against businesses from employees or customers who contract COVID-19.

 

LONG THOMPSON'S BOOK EXPLORES ETHICS: Back when Jill Long Thompson represented Indiana in Congress in the 1990s, she recalls meeting other members of the House, including a powerful committee chairman, at an upscale restaurant on the dime of a lobbyist (Sikich, IndyStar). The situation had presented a dilemma for Long Thompson. She wanted to make a connection with the chairman, but she opposed taking freebies from lobbyists. She decided to order a Diet Coke while others ate their meals. She paid back the lobbyist the next day.  Long Thompson, who has taught ethics at Indiana University, has grown increasingly frustrated with the lack of ethics in some quarters of government today. She has written a book, "The Character of American Democracy," in which she uses this "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch" anecdote and others from her time in Congress to argue that the United States could lose its democracy if citizens continue to accept blatant unethical behavior from leaders.

 

State

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL: DIOCESE HAS RIGHT TO REQUIRE DOCTRINE OF STAFF - The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis has the constitutional right to require its ministerial staff to teach and practice Catholic doctrine, Attorney General Curtis Hill said (Howey Politics Indiana). In a brief filed with the Indiana Supreme Court, Attorney General Hill calls for the dismissal of a lawsuit filed against the Archdiocese by a Cathedral High School teacher upset that he was fired from the religious institution after entering into a same-sex marriage. A Marion Superior Court judge handling the lawsuit has permitted the case to move forward — even offering his own opinions on Catholic history and discussing the church’s doctrine on homosexuality based on his personal knowledge of a gay priest. “The suit should have been dismissed immediately under the First Amendment’s longstanding protections for church autonomy,” Attorney General Hill states in the brief. Short of dismissing the lawsuit, he adds, the Indiana Supreme Court at least should hold that the trial court’s decision refusing to grant the Archdiocese immunity from the litigation is immediately appealable.

 

REVENUE: SECOND ROLLOUT FOR NEW BUSINESS TAX SYSTEM - The Indiana Department of Revenue’s (DOR) second rollout of its tax system update, Project NextDOR, went live today. This is the second of four rollouts allowing business customers to file, pay and administer several tax types, including sales and withholding, in the e-services portal, the Indiana Taxpayer Information Management Engine (Howey Politics Indiana). Rollout 2 consists of several tax types including sales and withholding taxes. These two tax types alone account for over 50% of all state revenue collected each year. This rollout allows over 200,000 sales and withholding customers to not only manage their tax obligations, but also to have secure direct messaging with the DOR team and easily find all letters and notices sent in one location. These new online features are in alignment with bringing DOR into the modern era of tax revenue services. “We’re excited to announce that Rollout 2 of Project NextDOR was completed on time and on budget,” stated DOR Commissioner Bob Grennes. “Our team has worked tirelessly to prepare and implement all the systems and service operations components of this rollout – delivering both short and long-term improvements to DOR and all the Hoosiers that we serve.”

 

NATIONAL GUARD: GEN. LYLES MAKES CASE FOR F-35s FOR TERRE HAUTE - Brigadier Gen. R. Dale Lyles, adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard, is part of an effort to help put Terre Haute Regional Airport atop of four other airports that could be the site of a new U.S. Air Force F-35 military sales training center (Greninger, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). Lyles met with community, educational and business leaders Tuesday at the airport to launch a coordinated effort to highlight Terre Haute's assets. "The F-35 project is a foreign military sales project that aims at training foreign nations on how to fly the F-35," Lyles said. "There are partner nations now, specifically Singapore ... looking at repositioning their current training from Arizona, and there are five potential locations of where they may put this site and Terre Haute is one of the five." "We are trying to strengthen our presentation to the selection committee," the general said. Other airports under consideration include Buckley AFB, Colorado.; Fort Smith Airport, Arkansas.; Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, and Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan.

 

EDUCATION: $19M APPROVED FOR SCHOOL SAFETY - The Indiana Secured School Board has approved more than $19 million in matching state grant funds, marking a second consecutive year of record-breaking school safety investments (Howey Politics Indiana). “Education is a Hoosier priority, and Indiana remains fully committed to ensuring the safety of our schools. I’m proud that continued funding through this grant program can meet the top safety needs of school districts and help parents, students and staff feel safe and secure each day,” Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb said. The $19.4 million in awards allows the Board to fully fund all eligible, top-priority projects identified by 418 schools in their applications to the Secured School Safety Grant program (SSSG). The $19 million annual investments are the largest single year investments ever dedicated to safety in Hoosier schools.

 

EDUCATION: PURDUE ANNOUNCES SPRING SEMESTER SCHEDULE - Purdue University announced Tuesday that the University will offer a full online option for the 2021 spring semester and 2021 spring break has been removed from the academic calendar (WLFI-TV). The changes come as Purdue continues precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a released statement, classes will also start later than usual, on January 19. To account for this later start, the spring break period has been removed. In place of the break, three "reading days" have been added throughout the semester. These days are "to give faculty and students a brief respite from instruction to permit them to focus on their preparation and check their understanding of materials."

 

MEDIA: DIAS TO REPLACE HILL AT WTHR-TV - Ben Hill, who has co-anchored WTHR-TV Channel 13’s morning weekday news since 2016, is leaving Indianapolis for an anchor job in Nashville, Tennessee, WTHR announced Tuesday (IBJ). Hill’s job will be filled by feature reporter Carlos Diaz, who returned to WTHR four years ago after building a career as a nationally known entertainment, sports and news personality at “Extra,” ESPN and CNN, among other media outlets. WTHR said the transition would take place later this month.

 

SPORTS: IU'S DOLSON SAYS FB SEASON 'NOT IF, BUT WHEN' - Indiana University Athletic Director Scott Dolson said progress is being made toward getting Big Ten athletes back in competition (Indiana Public Media). Dolson told the Bloomington Rotary Club in a Zoom meeting Tuesday that the Committee of the Chancellors and Presidents of the conference made the decision to call off fall sports because of uncertainties about COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and the residual effects of heart issues caused by the disease. He said significant progress in the reliability and access of rapid response testing, and progress on cardiac issues from appropriate testing and diagnostics, are moving the conference closer to an athletics restart. He said, “It’s not if, it’s just when.”

 

SPORTS: COVID HALTS IU BASKETBALL, 2 OTHER PROGRAMS - Indiana University Athletics is pausing all voluntary workouts indefinitely for men's basketball, field hockey, men's soccer, and wrestling members after 14 positive COVID-19 tests this week (Indiana Public Media). The Hoosiers did not identify which teams recorded the positive tests. The football team, like other Big Ten programs, is not playing this fall. Indiana said 63 positives have been reported from more than 1,400 tests of athletes, coaches and staff since June 8. IU Coach Archie Miller said in a statement that the health and safety of everyone remains a top priority. “Our athletic program is following strict protocols during these unprecedented times and we strongly support our medical staff as we try and mitigate this issue,” Miller said.

 

SPORTS: 6 STATE LEGISLATIVE LEADERS SEEK BIG10 REINSTATEMENT - Leaders of six state legislatures in the Big Ten footprint have sent a letter to Commissioner Kevin Warren asking the conference to reconsider its decision to cancel the fall football season (AP). The letter is written on the letterhead of Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield and also signed by statehouse leaders from Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. “Recent actions taken by other conferences around the country to start football and other fall sports have placed the Big Ten, its members and students at a disadvantage,” the letter said. “These athletes are losing a vital part of student life and are becoming less marketable to future employers with each passing week. Additionally, our local universities stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars that support vital student scholarships. “This is even more frustrating when we think of how our Big Ten athletic programs are leading the way by providing outstanding health and safety protocols. All of that unprecedented planning and teamwork was an unmitigated success, and yet somehow the conference has decided to cast it aside anyway.”

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE - President Trump will receive his intel briefing at noon in the Oval Office. Kayleigh McEnany will hold a White House press briefing at noon.

 

JUSTICE: SEEKS TO DEFEND TRUMP IN CARROLL LAWSUIT - The Justice Department filed court documents Tuesday seeking to represent President Donald Trump in a lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll, who claimed he sexually assaulted her in the 1990s (NBC News). The Justice Department, which is supposed to act as an independent federal law enforcement agency, argued that under the Federal Tort Claims Act, or FTCA, its lawyers can usurp Trump's private legal team and change the venue from New York state court to U.S. District Court in Manhattan. "Because President Trump was acting within the scope of his office or employment at the time of the incident out of which the plaintiff's claim arose, the United States will file a motion to substitute itself for President Trump in this action for any claim for which the FTCA provides the exclusive remedy," the department argued in court documents.

 

GEORGIA: SoS PROBES 1,000 DOUBLE VOTERS - Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says that 1,000 people may have voted twice in the state's messy pandemic primary elections this year, adding that the state will investigate for potential voter fraud (NBC News). “We have found potentially 1000 cases of double voting here in Georgia,” the Republican secretary of state said in a press conference on Tuesday morning. “Let me be clear: it is a felony to double vote in Georgia, and we prosecute.” Georgia held two primary elections, first in June and then a runoff in August. Raffensperger said it appeared that 1,000 voters who voted by mail also voted in person.

 

Local

 

WEST LAFAYETTE: COUNCIL APPROVES MASK MANDATE - The West Lafayette City Council made several important votes in its meeting on Tuesday. The council unanimously voted in favor of Mayor John Dennis' mask mandate (WLFI-TV). As we've previously reported, Mayor Dennis made the executive order on July 13th. That was just nine days before Governor Eric Holcomb joined many states in issuing a statewide mask mandate. On July 28th, West Lafayette man Michael Bryant filed a lawsuit against the city and Mayor Dennis saying the mandate is unconstitutional. The lawsuit went before Tippecanoe County Judge Sean Persin last week. He ruled that the fines aspect of the mandate needed approval by the city council. The mandate says people can be fined up to $250 for not obeying. "It shows that it's not just me saying you've got to wear your mask," Mayor Dennis said. "It's our local government in support of making sure that our city stays as healthy as possible."

 

FORT WAYNE: COUNCIL TO PROBE ELECTRIC WORKS DEMISE – On Tuesday, the Fort Wayne Common Council unanimously introduced a resolution that would start the investigation into the termination of the Electric Works contract (WANE-TV). The presentation portion of the meeting discussing public funding lasted nearly 3 hours. Not much was settled but with the passing of the resolution, council is hoping to make progress. RTM Ventures was the first at the podium. They continued to explain that they have everything they need to keep the deal going. According to RTM developer Kevan Biggs, all the developers need is the $62 million dollars of public funding that the redevelopment commission terminated. “I think council’s initiative to try and get true answers and understand what happened is overwhelming what we are hearing from the public and the business community,” said Biggs. “How can we get to the bottom of what happened, how can we get back into the agreement to move this project forward.”

 

RICHMOND: POLICE PROBE CAR DRIVEN INTO BLM PROTEST — Police in Richmond are investigating after witnesses say someone drove into a group of Black Lives Matter protesters over the weekend, hitting two people (WTHR-TV). Richmond city councilwoman Kelley Cruse-Nicholson said she witnessed the whole thing Saturday evening, and is still in shock that it happened in her city, in her district. "What were they thinking? How many times a day do you think I'm just going to run my car into a group of people," Cruse-Nicholson said. It happened as a Black Lives Matter march with about 100 protesters was moving along 7th and A Streets around 5 p.m. Saturday.

 

MICHIGAN CITY: FOOTBALL SEASON SUSPENDED DUE TO COVID - Michigan City has put its football season on hold. The school announced Monday night via Twitter that football activities have been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic (Boyd, NWI Times). "This evening, the (Michigan City High School) athletic department was made aware that a member of the coaching staff has tested positive for COVID-19," Michigan City tweeted. "Because all players and team staff are considered close contacts of this individual, all players and staff have been advised to self-quarantine for 14 days." This is the second time that football has been shut down at Michigan City. The school paused team gatherings for all sports July 16 after one of its student-athletes tested positive for COVID-19.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: ISO, MUSICIANS REACH DEAL - The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and its musicians have reached a one-year agreement after months of tension between the two parties and canceled performances (IBJ). ISO leadership and the musicians released a joint statement on Tuesday announcing the new contract, which runs through Aug. 29, 2021. Under the agreement, the ISO will pay for health care for the musicians, and musicians will receive a weekly payment of $500 beginning in January. The pay is 34% of what musicians currently earn, according to the ISO.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: $7.1M GRANT FOR HOMELESS - The city of Indianapolis on Tuesday announced it would spend $7.1 million of federal funding on a homeless initiative that should help 500 households find permanent housing (Quinn, IBJ). Using $7 million of Emergency Shelter Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city has partnered with Merchants Affordable Housing and the Coalition for Homelessness Prevention and Intervention to rapidly rehouse 500 individuals or families currently experiencing homelessness. Roughly $5.4 million will be spent on 12 months of rental assistance for people experiencing homelessness, $1 million will go to supportive services and up to $700,000 will be spent on administrative costs.

 

HENRY COUNTY: ISP TO INVESTIGATE DEATH OF COMMISSIONER - A man was found dead Monday evening in a rural area of Henry County, northwest of New Castle (WRTV). The man found dead was later identified as former Henry County Sheriff and Commissioner Kim Cronk. Henry County's current chief deputy, Jay Davis, confirmed to WRTV Cronk was found dead in his own home. The Henry County Sheriff's Department has asked the Indiana State Police to head the investigation. Cronk was found dead in the yard of a residence at 1492 Kennard Road. Investigators are saying very little about the case, except that it appears to be an isolated incident with no danger to the public.

 

MONROE COUNTY: POSITIVITY RATE AT 9.2% - Monroe County currently totes a 9.2% seven-day positivity rate for all tests and a 15.9% seven-day positivity rate for unique individuals, but increasing rates have not spiked deaths or deterred the county’s continual reopening (Indiana Public Media). The Indiana State Department of Health reported on Tuesday 32 new cases of COVID-19 in the Monroe County, bringing the county total to 1,521 positive cases. On the same day, Monroe County Community School Corp. began in-person classes. Despite rising positivity rates, the county has not reported a COVID-19-related death since classes resumed at Indiana University on Aug. 24. County deaths from COVID-19 remain at 36. People ages 20-29 represent 41.3% of positive cases in the county, according to ISDH data, but no one under 50 has died of COVID-19 in Monroe County. District 8 (which includes Monroe County) is currently reporting 38 hospitalizations due to COVID-19.

 

ELKHART COUNTY: CITIZENS SPEAK AGAINST MASK MANDATE - County officials say they sympathize with frustrations over the COVID-19 pandemic, though they have no more idea than anyone else when the public health crisis will be over (Elkhart Truth). A group of residents attended Tuesday’s meeting of the Elkhart County Board of Commissioners to again voice their displeasure with state and local mask mandates, among other things. A group of people ranging from parents and educators to a business owner, a pastor and a mortician have attended county government meetings since early August to demand the mask order be ended and that someone be “held accountable” for imposing it in the first place.