Hoosier Lobbying: Are You Not Entertained?
They come bearing gifts. From free event tickets to theme-park passes, Indiana lobbyists know how to grease the gears of democracy.
Editor’s Note: IM takes a behind-the-scenes look at how Indiana Statehouse lobbyists ply their trade in this revealing series of articles from the March 2014 issue.
Special interests pay handsomely for the chance to put their stamp on Indiana politics. But in 2013, according to ILRC records, lobbyists themselves spent a comparatively paltry $4,000 on meals, hotel stays, and tickets to events and attractions for individual lawmakers, not including any gifts that might have fallen under the mandatory $50 reporting threshold. (Gift reports from 2014 and the end of last year were not available as of this writing.) Which goes to show that if you can’t get rich being a state legislator, at least it gets you out of the house.
The Goods Six tickets to Universal Studios on June 21
Lawmaker Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury
Lobbyist Peter S. Nemeth, Comcast
Relevant vote Yoder is a member of the Senate Utilities Committee, which oversees legislation related to cable-television regulation and policy.
Dead Air “Senator Yoder does not comment on lobbyists, lobbying groups, or activities associated with lobbying,” a spokeswoman told IM.
The Goods Two tickets for Hitz Boxing’s “Fight Night at the Horseshoe” on April 20 at the Horseshoe Casino in Elizabeth, Indiana
Lawmaker Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville
Lobbyist Daniel L. Nita, Horseshoe Hammond LLC
Relevant Vote Eberhart sits on the House Public Policy Committee, which considers, among other topics, legislation related to gaming and the regulation of boxing, sparring, and “unarmed combat.”
Give Me a Ring The fight card for the Hoosier bout included Russian heavyweight “sensation” Andrey Fedosov, cruiserweight Dimar Ortuz, and lightweight Frankie “Time Bomb” Scalise.
The Goods Two tickets to the Indianapolis 500 on May 24
Lawmaker Rep. Edward Clere, R-New Albany
Lobbyist Michael D. McDaniel, Krieg DeVault
Relevant Votes In 2013, Clere voted “yea” on HB 1544, a measure that allowed the state to loan $100 million to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for facility improvements; it passed the House 65-30.
Playing Hard to Get Clere told IM he attended the race with his 15-year-old son and didn’t interact at all, for the entire day, with the lobbyist who gave him the tickets.
The Goods Hotel room and Legislator of the Year trophy
Value $142.50 and $186.03
Lawmaker Rep. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper (right)
Lobbyist Indiana Bankers Association
Relevant Votes Messmer is on the House Financial Institutions Committee and chairs the Commerce, Small Business, and Economic Development Committee.
Bankers’ afterhours Messmer received his award at the Chairman’s Banquet of the IBA’s annual convention at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. The festivities included “fine dining and high-energy dance music.”
The Goods Six tickets for a Pacers game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 4, 2013
Lawmaker Rep. Lloyd Arnold, R-Leavenworth
Lobbyist Mindy A. Westrick, Faegre Baker Daniels (which represents a wide range of special interests including higher education and road construction)
Relevant Vote Arnold sits on the Education and Roads and Transportation committees, among others.
Quality Time “My children were up from spring break that week, and I had asked [Faegre Baker Daniels] to use their tickets, because I knew they had tickets,” says Arnold. “They were not [using their tickets], so that $800 was for myself, my wife, and my four boys.”
The Goods Two tickets to the girls state basketball finals at the Hulman Center in Terre Haute on March 2, 2013
Lawmaker Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte (right)
Lobbyist Bobby Cox, Indiana High School Athletic Association
Relevant Vote Arnold is on the Senate Public Policy, Ethics, and other committees.
Go, Girl! In 2013, Arnold authored a Senate resolution to honor Skylar Diggins (left), a four-year starter for South Bend Washington High School and standout point guard at Notre Dame, for being the third-overall pick in the 2013 WNBA draft by the Tulsa Shock.
The Goods Two tickets (plus refreshments) to NCAA men’s basketball games at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 29 and 31
Lawmaker Rep. David Wolkins, R-Winona Lake
Lobbyist Edwin J. Simcox, Indiana Energy Association
Relevant vote Wolkins chairs the House Environmental Affairs Committee, which oversees regulations affecting power plants and other energy-industry concerns.
Plugged-in “My folks know that I have taken a lot of different minor [gifts] from some of the gambling interests,” Wolkins says by way of example, “and I have never voted for anything for gambling.” Perhaps not, but he has sided plenty with energy-related special interests. The Citizens Action Coalition, an advocacy group for consumer-friendly energy policy, assessed Wolkins with a 13 percent pro-consumer voting percentage last year; 80 percent is considered a passing grade.
Schmooze It or Lose It An inside look at just how much—and, sometimes, how little—lobbyist lavish on our lawmakers.
Check, Please! The restaurants, bars, and hangouts where lobbyists and legislators get down to business.
Are You Not Entertained? Gifts from lobbyists that got legislators out of the house.
Skylar Diggins photo by Shane Bevel/NBA/Getty Images, courtesy Tulsa Shock
This article appeared in the March 2014 issue.