Importantville: The Penceworld Covid Outbreak, Lugar Staffers For Biden, Spartz’s Missing Farmland

Art by Kris Davidson



Victoria Spartz has bet the farm on her bid for Indiana’s 5th Congressional District. The Republican’s record as a farmer—from her time growing up around farm animals in Soviet-controlled Ukraine to her soybean outfit in Hamilton County—has been a central element in her pitch to voters. 

And it’s a record that’s resonated with her supporters and interest groups. “Her family farming operation in Hamilton County gives her a first-hand view of the challenges facing agriculture, both economic and environmental,” Indiana Farm Bureau ELECT PAC said in a statement when they backed the candidate in August.

An array of profiles of the candidate are quick to mention her sprawling farm operation. In August, Indianapolis Business Journal reported that the Spartz “family—including her in-laws—collectively farm about 2,000 acres of soybeans and wheat, but it’s a mixture of rented land and owned property.” Farm World, an agricultural trade publication, noted in April that Spartz and her husband Jason had a “3,000-acre commercial farm where they primarily grow soybeans along with some wheat.” Spartz herself has made similar claims. At a Hamilton County Plan Commission in June 2018, Spartz claimed to farm almost 3,000 acres across the county. 

But a review of property records connected to Spartz and her in-laws reveals ownership of a far smaller agricultural footprint of about 570 acres. Her main soybean farming operation, EcoAgro USA, comprises just 150.6 acres. Spartz Farms, a partnership, is a 70.93-acre parcel. Broadened out, a search of other Spartz family farmland includes only 348.82 acres.   

In total, Spartz and her family appear to farm 81 percent less acreage than she has claimed. In a statement, a spokesman for Spartz admitted she no longer farmed 3,000 acres, but did not respond to follow-up questions about the exact acreage Spartz and her family now farmed. 

“In addition to land they own, Victoria, Jason and their family members have rented significant acreage for farming,” Tim Edson, a campaign spokesman, told IMPORTANTVILLE. “Between land owned and land leased/rented, in past years the family has done as much as 3,000 acres.  With Victoria running for Congress and her father-in-law battling cancer, they are farming less acreage presently.”

Farming makes up a significant part of Spartz’s wealth. She valued her soybean concern, EcoAgro USA, as worth between $1 million and $5 million out of assets that total between $8 million and $30 million, according to her personal financial disclosure. She valued Spartz Farms, a partnership, between $1 and $1,000, and recently generated between $100,000 and $1 million in annual income from this business. Spartz has loaned herself more than $1 million during the campaign. 

Spartz is running against Democratic candidate Christina Hale, a former state lawmaker and nonprofit executive. The congressional district—which includes suburban Indianapolis as well as rural counties—is one of the nation’s 10 most likely congressional districts to flip, according to CNN. The race has drawn more than $11 million in spending. 

Welcome back to IMPORTANTVILLE. The 2020 campaign season took on a more familiar feel this weekend, with Democratic and Republican candidates crisscrossing the state on the penultimate weekend before Election Day. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb rallied volunteers on Saturday morning, and Spartz canvassed.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Woody Myers teamed up with attorney general candidate Jonathan Weinzapfel on a statewide tour. They were joined by Beau Bayh, the scion of former U.S. Senator and Governor Evan Bayh, and grandson of the late former U.S. Senator and Indiana Speaker of the House Birch Bayh. The Myers campaign asked Bayh to stump for the campaign. Bayh is studying at Harvard Law School and is expected to be back in Indiana next summer to intern.

Gubernatorial candidates will debate tomorrow from 7-8 p.m live from WFYI in Indianapolis. The debate will be moderated by Nadia E. Brown, associate professor and University Faculty Scholar of political science and African American Studies at Purdue University.

Meanwhile, thousands of voters in Marion County waited as long as 8 hours in line to cast their ballots early.


  • Indiana has surpassed 2016 early voting totals, setting a new record of 1,094,381 votes, about 40 percent of the 2016 presidential vote, according to Secretary of State Connie Lawson.
  • Sen. Todd Young spoke on the Senate floor on behalf of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, the second justice on SCOTUS with Hoosier tiesafter Chief Justice John Roberts, who grew up in Laporte. “Hoosiers are extremely proud of Judge Amy Coney Barrett and the trail she has blazed for others,” Young said. “She is a role model for young women everywhere, including my young daughters. I am incredibly proud that our next Supreme Court Justice will hail from America’s Heartland and the great state of Indiana. I urge my colleagues to come together and carry out the will of the American people by swiftly voting to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court of the United States.”


  • Speculation is ticking up about what role former presidential candidate and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg would assume in a hypothetical Biden administration. POLITICO reports that Buttigieg is “angling for an international affairs post — perhaps as ambassador to the United Nations or a high-profile diplomatic perch in, say, Russia or China.” They add he has been floated as U.S. trade representative and secretary of Veterans Affairs.
  • New York Magazine also reports that Buttigieg is considered a contender for the UN, a post that “would entail a convenient relocation for the former mayor to a blue state full of donors, in case he wants to run for something statewide in more hospitable territory for Democrats at some point.”


Dan Diller, Shellie Bressler, Mary Locke, and Carl Meacham, Roll Call: “Biden’s committee days bode well for how he would govern

As Republican senior professional staff on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under the late Sen. Richard Lugar, we lived through six years of near daily interaction with Sen. Joe Biden and his staff. From 2003 through 2006, Lugar was chairman, while Biden was ranking member. They flipped roles in 2007 when Democrats won control of the Senate. Despite major policy differences between Lugar and Biden and the typical rivalry between their staffs, there never was a moment when we doubted that Biden’s main objective as an elected official was the well-being of the United States.

As any committee staffer can attest, the relationship between a chair and ranking member of a committee is like an arranged marriage. You don’t choose your partner, but you are attached at the elbow through hundreds of hours of hearings and meetings. If your partner is unrelentingly partisan, day-to-day operations of the committee can become a grind with almost every decision, from hearing topics to the division of office space, subject to contention and resentment.

Maggie Haberman, The New York Times: “Members of Pence’s Inner Circle Test Positive for Coronavirus

Two people briefed on the matter said that the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, had sought to keep news of the outbreak from becoming public.

James Briggs, The Indianapolis Star: Briggs: “Mike Pence’s surprise rally could be Indiana’s MAGA farewell tour

Indiana has been the land of MAGA for so long that it’s hard to remember what it was like before the nation’s attention descended on the Conrad Hotel in downtown Indianapolis, where not-yet-president Donald Trump stayed in July 2016 and met with well-known political figures including, Jeff Sessions and Newt Gingrich.

Me, Indianapolis Monthly: “Meet The Young Black Woman Working To Elect Indiana Republicans

For so long, we’ve been hearing political platitudes on both sides of the aisle without any type of progress. So I would tell them not to listen to what we’re saying, but to watch what we’re doing. I understand there’s a distrust, and our problems aren’t going to be fixed in a single election year. But over time, what I hope they’ll be able to see is that the Indiana Republican Party is authentically interested in representing them. We’re going to continue to make these connections long after the election is over.

Derek Robertson, Indianapolis Monthly: How An Indiana College Democrat Blew Up Political Twitter

The former New York mayor’s gullibility, neediness, and technological illiteracy are well-known in political circles. It hardly stretched the imagination to think a savvy young person armed with Rudy’s well-worn cell phone number could have pranked him into such a confession. And like things do on social media, it spread like wildfire, earning retweets from reporters as high-placed as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. The only catch: It wasn’t real.