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Tuesday, July 17, 2018
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Thursday, October 15, 2015 9:20 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    
INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence kicked off the infrastructure debate with a $1 billion proposal to repair state highways, interstates and bridges. Local government officials want the governor and General Assembly to take it several steps further, and provide what the Indiana Association of Cities & Towns calls a “sustainable” funding source. IACT President Matthew Greller told Howey Politics Indiana on Wednesday that the Pence plan is a good start. “The big thing is it’s good the administration is addressing infrastructure in a very serious way with a very serious proposal and a lot of money. But it includes no money for city and town streets and county roads. I’m disappointed because the vast majority of road miles in Indiana are maintained by local governments.”
  • Donnelly says Trump should cancel summit; Coats warns
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    NASHVILLE, Ind. - On a head-spinning Friday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 senior Russian military intelligence officials for hacking the U.S. election. In the indictments announced by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is the fact that on that on July 27, 2016, these Russians made their first attempt to “spearfish” the Democratic National Committee’s computers. That was the same day that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said in Miami, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

  • Horse Race: Donnelly raises $1.9M for second quarter
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - U.S. Joe Donnelly posted $1.9 million for the second quarter and has $6.4 million cash on hand. That compares to $2.5 million raised for Republican Mike Braun and had $1 million cash. Donnelly called the $1.9 million for the quarter “a new personal best.” The campaign said it was due to substantial grassroots support. The average contribution was $43.83, with 93% of all donations to Donnelly were $50 or less.
  • Atomic! Trump's Hyde & Jekyll; Putin smirking; Hill's account
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Channeling Trump’s Hyde and Jekyll: Here are your Friday the 13th power lunch (or tea with the Queen) talking points: Imagine a British PM at a White House state dinner saying, “You donkey bottom batter. I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food-trough wiper! I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!” Monty Python aside, that’s essentially what President Trump did to the closest U.S. ally’s leader, British PM Theresa May, coming at an ultra sensitive time  for her as her government teeters and cracks.

  • Atomic! Braun posts $2.5M; Trump NATO threat; Soy freefall
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Braun posts $2.5M for Q2: Here are your Thursday power lunch talking points: Money continues to spill into the INSen race. Republican nominee Mike Braun posted $2.5M with more than $1M cash on hand. The campaign says it raised $1.5M since the Jasper businessman’s primary romp over U.S. Reps. Luke Messer andTodd Rokita. The campaign notes that the totals are “without personal contributions or loans.”  Leading into the primary, Braun pumped more than $6 million of his own fortune into the race, which Howey Politics Indiana  believes will top $100 million by November, with millions of Super PAC and independent expenditures flooding in by then. Braun's report comes after a SurveyMonkey Poll showed him leading Sen. Joe Donnelly 49-47%.

  • HPI Analysis: Defiant Hill in face of rare Holcomb miscue
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – The first 18 months of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s tenure have been a series of prudent course corrections (Section 5 of I-69, bicentennial towers and East Chicago lead), savvy expenditure of political capital on long-range policy (Next Level road funding), and adroit maneuvering on controversial topics ranging from Department of Child Services overload to the opioid pandemic. There were a couple of bumps in the road, most notably the marriage plank at the Indiana Republican Convention that ran counter to his and most Hoosiers level of tolerance. And then came the week of the Fourth of July. On July 2, the IndyStar published the sexual harassment allegations against Attorney General Curtis Hill, based on a General Assembly “investigation.” The report included interviews of anonymous victims, later including State Rep. Mara Candeleria Reardon. After the report leaked, it set in motion four days of controversy before the logjam broke on July 5.

  • Atomic! Trump NATO carnage; AG Hill probe; Braun up by 2%
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Trump wrecking ball at NATO: Here are your hump day power lunch talking points: President Trump unleashed his wrecking ball on NATO this morning, claiming in an unprecedented and blistering attack  that Germany is “totally controlled by Russia.” At the opening NATO breakfast, Trump lashed out at NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, saying, “Germany, as far as I’m concerned, is captive to Russia  because it’s getting so much of its energy from Russia. We have to talk about the billions and billions of dollars that’s being paid to the country we’re supposed to be protecting you against,” Trump said, referring to European purchases of Russian natural gas. German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded: “I’ve experienced myself a part of Germany controlled by the Soviet Union, and I’m very happy today that we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and can thus say that we can determine our own policies and make our own decisions and that’s very good.”

  • Horse Race: Braun up 2% in SurveyMonkey Poll

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - A new Survey Monkey/Axios Poll shows Republican Mike Braun leading U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly 49-47%. The poll was part of a 13-seat survey of registered voters take from June 11 to July 2. To win the Senate, Democrats need to keep all 10 seats they're defending in states that President Trump won in 2016 — plus pick up two more seats. It shows Dems would lose three of those red-state seats while picking up two GOP seats — still short of the majority.

  • A Hill primary challenge to Gov. Holcomb would be daunting
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    OLDENBURG, Ind. –  By mid-afternoon on June 9 in Evansville, social conservatives were overjoyed following an obviously commanding victory on the marriage platform plank. So buoyed, that while Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer was saying the party was united, the talk in some corners and in private settings was that Attorney General Curtis Hill was pondering a 2020 primary challenge to Gov. Eric Holcomb. On the face of it, such talk would seem like a fool’s errand, even before Hill ended this past week with multiple sexual harassment allegations stemming from a March 15 sine die party. An incumbent Indiana governor has never faced a credible primary challenge since they could seek reelection beginning in 1976. The general perception, beyond the warrens of social conservatives still angered about the demise of the constitutional marriage amendment in 2014, is that Holcomb is off to about as good a start as a governor can have.

  • Horse Race: Donnelly dodges a bullet on SCOTUS pick
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly may have dodged a bullet when President Trump passed on Notre Dame graduate Judges Amy Coney Barrett and Thomas Hardiman to nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. But he still faces a shotgun spray as he faces one of the most controversial votes of his Senate career. A vote against Kavanaugh will leave him open to charges from Republican Mike Braun that he opposes the interests of Hoosiers. A vote for could alienate part of his Democratic base fearful the high court will rescind Roe v. Wade and the Obergfell gay marriage cases. Either way, the SCOTUS fight is expected to open the money spigots even further. TV ads surrounding the Kavanaugh pick began in Indiana minutes after President Trump made the decision.
  • AG Hill calls on Holcomb to rescind his resignation call
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Attorney General Curtis Hill made a six and a half minute statement calling on Gov. Eric Holcomb and others to rescind their calls for his resignation in the wake of sexual harassment allegations made by a legislator and three staffers. Hill offered an alibi, saying he went to AJ’s Lounge on March 15 with Tony Samuel, a political operative and HPI columnist. He said he was denied due process, looks forward to an independent investigation and refused to take questions. In essence, Hill called into question the credibility of State Rep. Mara Candeleria Reardon, D-Munster. She reacted to Hill’s statement, saying, “When we take the oath of office, to serve the citizens of Indiana, we agree to be held to a certain standard and honor the trust the public has placed in us."
  • Atomic! Hill won't resign; IG authority? Pence/Trump dinner
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Attorney General Hill defiant: Here are your Friday power vacation talking points: The long-fused cherry bomb went off around 7 Thursday evening when within minutes, Gov. Eric Holcomb, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President David Long called for Attorney General Curtis Hill to resign over sexual harassment allegations. So within the mainstream Indiana GOP, Hill’s support collapsed. But several sources close to Hill describe him as “defiant” and "feeling persecuted," saying he has no intention of resigning. Hill believes the General Assembly investigation did not afford him due process, nor did Gov. Holcomb’s tweet that he would have been fired if in his employ. Due to his support of the marriage platform plank, Hill believes he has the support of social conservatives. And the Ten Point Coalition he has embraced believe he is being railroaded due to his race.

  • Holcomb, Bosma, Long call for Attorney General Hill to resign
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Gov. Eric Holcomb and Republican leaders of the Indiana General Assembly have called on embattled Attorney General Curtis Hill to resign after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced on Monday. Holcomb joined House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President David Long in calling for Hill to step down. By the end of Thursday evening, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and Secretary of State Connie Lawson also called for Hill to resign, signaling a collapse of his support in the establishment Indiana Republican Party. House Minority Leader Terry Goodin also called for Hill to step down. Hill issued no response. Holcomb said in a statement Thursday evening, “Four women had the courage to step forward to report sexual harassment by the Indiana attorney general. The findings of the recent legislative report are disturbing and at a minimum, show a violation of the state’s zero tolerance sexual harassment policy. I concur with Sen. Long and Speaker Bosma that Attorney General Hill should resign, and I support a thorough investigation by the state’s inspector general.”

  • Atomic! Long-fuse cherry bomb scandal; Hill's letter; SCOTUS nod
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. A scandal like a long-fuse cherry bomb: Here are your post-4th power Bloody Mary brunch talking points: The governor is in remote Montana, the Statehouse was still on the Fourth of July and the emerging groping scandal of Attorney General Curtis Hillsimmers like a long-fuse cherry bomb. Several thoughts before more breaking news: More than half a year into the #Metoo movement, it is stunning that any elected official would have placed himself in this type of cultural crosshairs. It’s an era where many officials have conducted internal cranial searches, prepping for what could be a career-ending allegation. Sources we’ve talked with who were at AJ’s Lounge say Hill appeared to be intoxicated and one source described him as “aggressive” in approaching female after female. The behavior matches his political modus operandi. Hill continued to update his reaction on Tuesday, saying he has been denied due process while refusing to resign: "I first learned about this investigation on Friday, yet I was never contacted by an investigator, met with legislators on Monday, had requested a copy of the 'confidential' report that had been provided to the media, and have been denied access to the report. Now I am being asked if I intend to resign based upon this prejudicial investigation. Let me be clear, I am not resigning my position as Attorney General." So Hill makes the case that a State Police probe would be the fairest option  for all involved.
  • HPI Analysis: Hill allegations come with GOP on brink of civil war
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    NASHVILLE, Ind. – The Indiana Republican Party teeters on the brink of a cultural and political civil war. It comes as rising star Attorney General Curtis Hill finds himself enmeshed in a Trumpian case of sexual harassment that exploded into public view on the eve of the Fourth of July, with popular Gov. Eric Holcomb weighing a response that could impact both of their careers. It comes after the Republican social conservative wing batted away by a commanding voice vote a move by the Holcomb wing of the party to change the platform stance on marriage at the state convention in Evansville last month, opting for 2014 and 2016 language from the Gov. Mike Pence era that states marriage is between a man and a woman. Attorney General Hill was a conspicuous backer of the plank and now emboldened evangelicals see him as a potential challenger to Holcomb in a 2020 primary, several informed and reliable Republican sources tell Howey Politics Indiana.

  • Atomic! AG Hill allegations; Holcomb weighs in; killer fentanyl
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. The Curtis Hill ‘investigation’: Here are your pre-4th of July power barbecue talking points: More than six months into the #Metoo movement,  the big story is there are allegations that Attorney General Curtis Hill groped a female legislator and three staffers at a sine die party during the early morning hours on March 15. It prompted a General Assembly “investigation,” by a body that apparently has no investigatory powers. Hill released a statement: “At no time was my behavior inappropriate nor did I touch anyone in an inappropriate manner. I have never been contacted by any investigator. I have not been informed of who made these allegations nor have I been provided any due process  with regard to these vicious allegations. While meeting with legislative leaders yesterday I requested a copy of this report but my request was denied despite the fact that the legislature acknowledged they had given it to the media." 

  • Atomic! Barrett on short list; Trump tariffs hit IN; mayoral reelects
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Fremont, Ind.
     

    1. Judge Barrett on Trump’s short list: Here are your power barbecue talking points: By many accounts, 7th Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett is on President Trump’s SCOTUS short list. With the nomination expected to be announced on Monday, July 9, don’t be surprised if we see Judge Barrett show up at Bedminister (perhaps she’s already been there) for a vetting. Bloomberg reports that in addition to Barrett, the others are Brett Kavanaugh, Thomas Hardiman, Raymond Kethledge and Amul Thapar.

  • Atomic! Press atrocity; Donnelly meets Trump; hungry Nick Ayres
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Bargersville, Ind.

    1. Putting out a damn paper: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: The Capital Gazette  published the day after five of its journalists were murdered in its newsroom. The press is resilient. After the 2015 Charlie Hebdo  atrocity in Paris that claimed the lives of 12 journalists, its next edition told readers, “All is forgiven.” The Capital Gazette  resolutely tweeted, "Yes, we’re putting out a damn paper tomorrow.” The journalists were targeted by 38-year-old Jarrod W. Ramos, a local man with a long-running feud with the newspaper, losing a defamation suit filed in 2011. Ramos’ twitter account notes: “Dear reader: I created this page to defend myself. Now I'm suing the s--- out of half of AA County and making corpses of corrupt careers  and corporate entities.”

  • Atomic! Donnelly gets Comey'd; Pence's apex; tax & tariff metrics
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Justice Kennedy Comeys Donnelly: Here are your Thursday power lunch talking points: Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy just Comey’d Sen. Joe Donnelly. Already facing an intense challenge from outsider/businessman Mike Braun, Kennedy’s retirement just poured gasoline on the white hot hood and fenders. In order for Donnelly to win, he was counting on an edge in the Democratic voter intensity, revealed by dozens of polls. But that might have just been wiped out  by Republican evangelicals and the Mike Pence true-believer wing who had endured porn stars, Playboy Bunnies, Putin bromance, the potential for Kremlin collusion, and Kim Jong Un hugs for just this very moment. This is a tipping point SCOTUS seat and the GOP base will be energized. The Kennedy announcement echoes the October 2016 FBI bombshell by James Comey that inextricably altered the presidential race, allowing Donald Trump to upset Hillary Clinton. Ditto, now, for the mid-terms.

  • Keep your eyes on Judge Barrett for open SCOTUS seat

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Keep your eyes on 7th Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement on Wednesday. Barrett was confirmed on a 55-43 vote last fall to replace Judge John Tinder on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and she drew the support of U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, a fellow Notre Dame University Law School graduate. Donnelly reacted to the Kennedy retirement, saying, “I wish Justice Kennedy and his family well in his retirement. Part of my job as a United States Senator is to carefully consider the president’s judicial nominees, including for the Supreme Court, and I will thoroughly review the record and qualifications of any nominee presented to the Senate.” Donnelly said after his vote to confirm Barrett, “I believe she's qualified to serve as a circuit court judge. As I have repeatedly said, part of my job is to review, debate, and vote on judicial nominations.” Donnelly also voted to confirm Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Trump's first SCOTUS nominee.

  • Atomic! Romney resistance; Hoosiers & Harleys; farm suicides
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Romney poised to be GOP response to Trump: Here are your hump day power lunch talking points: Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee, won his Utah Senate race primary with 73% and is a shoo-in this fall. With President Trump critics Sens. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker exiting at year’s end and John McCain facing his mortal challenge, Romney is poised to be the new conscience of the Republican Party, which has been described by conservatives like George Will, David Brooks and Steve Schmidt as a Donald Trump cultIn a weekend op-ed for the Salt Lake Tribune, Romney addressed whether he will “support the Trump agenda?” He writes: “I’ve learned this means different things to different people. That difference, I believe, is a defining choice for Republicans."
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  • McCain: 'Low point of American presidency'
    “Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake. President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin. He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world. It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout – as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realize his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbors, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world. Coming close on the heels of President Trump’s bombastic and erratic conduct towards our closest friends and allies in Brussels and Britain, today’s press conference marks a recent low point in the history of the American Presidency. - U.S. Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, reacting to President Trump’s summit with Russian President Putin. 
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  • Trump defies Coats, disgraces himself and our nation

    President Trump disgraced himself and the U.S. when he stood next to Russian President Putin, signaling his belief in the strongman over his intelligence leaders such as Dan Coats, who just last Friday warned that Russian assaults of U.S. institutions were ongoing. 

    National Intelligence Director Coats, in a statement following the Helsinki news conference, said, “We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security.” President Trump referenced Coats’ warning, but insisted Putin was “extremely strong in his denial” and said, "I don't see any reason why it would be." What we don’t know is what Trump and Putin discussed when they met alone for two hours (except for translators).

    The biggest fear is that patriots like Coats might resign, leaving this president to his own unpredictable and destructive devices that were on full display throughout the week when he blasted NATO allies, embarrassed British Prime Minister Theresa May, and called the European Union a “foe.” This is a crisis of unprecedented proportions. 

    Hoosier Republicans, more than those across the nation, need to stand up and declare for the ideals long espoused by statesmen like Dan Coats and Richard Lugar, as U.S. Sen. Todd Young did this afternoon, when he said the U.S. “must deter additional aggression by Putin.” There is reluctance to do this because of Vice President Pence’s station in the Trump administration (Pence has lunch with Trump Tuesday at the White House), but we make the case that for that very reason, their voices must be heard and will carry extra weight.
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher

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