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Monday, May 29, 2017
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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.”
  • HPI Analysis: The coming 'impeachment election'
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – Singer David Byrne, appropriately a real Talking Head, asks rhetorically in song, “How did we get here?” in an era of scandals engulfing the White House and inertia gripping a polarized Congress. Look no further than the morning of May 3, 2016, with Donald Trump poised to win the Indiana Republican presidential primary that night, and thus the party’s nomination. But Trump wasn’t optimistic, upbeat or sanguine. Instead, he went on Fox News and cited a National Enquirer story tying Rafael Cruz, father of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. “His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being – you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous,” Trump said on Fox News early election morning.
  • Horse Race: AG Hill, Braun eye Senate race; Delph decision coming
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – The early rounds of the Republican 2018 U.S. Senate race has centered on a potential showdown between U.S. Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita. But there are several new names surfacing. Informed and reliable GOP sources say that Attorney General Curtis Hill is making phone calls gauging support for a potential run. He is also staffing up his campaign side, with Suzie Jaworowski coming on board. She was a key player in President Trump’s Indiana campaign. Another name reportedly making calls is State Rep. Mike Braun, R-Jasper. Currently Atlanta businessman Terry Henderson, Kokomo attorney Mark Hurt and New Albany educator Andrew Takami have officially entered or have formed exploratory committees. State Sen. Mike Delph told HPI on Wednesday that his oldest daughter Abby is getting married on June 25. “I will address 2018 after we get through this very important family event,” Delph advised.
  • Atomic: Coats on Trump pressure; DeVos in Indy; Pence to Hill

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Coats pressed on Trump pressure, terror threat: Get ready for your Tuesday power lunch with these talking points: A day after the Washington Post broke yet another sensational story that President Trump had approached him about pushing back on the FBI’s Russian collusion probe, and an ISIS sanctioned terror attack in Manchester, England, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee and was asked about the story. The Post reported: “Trump made separate appeals to … Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election. Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate, according to two current and two former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president. “The problem wasn’t so much asking them to issue statements, it was asking them to issue false statements about an ongoing investigation,” a former senior intelligence official told the Post of the request to Coats.


  • Vice President Pence cites 'integrity' and 'values' at Notre Dame
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Vice President Mike Pence journeyed back home to Indiana on Sunday, preaching “integrity and values” at the Notre Dame commencement from an administration that is already mired in scandal, investigation while running roughshod over truth. Pence told the graduates "to be men and women of integrity and values,” adding, “This university is a vanguard of freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas at a time, sadly, when free speech and civility are waning on campuses across America. While this institution has maintained an atmosphere of civility and open debate, far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness — all of which amounts to nothing less than suppression of the freedom of speech,”

  • Atomic: State drug strategy; Trump abroad; Pence under fire
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Indiana’s drug strategy lacks big idea: Your Friday power lunch talking points: Indiana drug czar Jim McClelland released 19 pages of strategy to combat the opiate epidemic that killed 619 Hoosiers in 2016, up from 262 in 2008. Key principles include: Data will inform all systems and programs created for government, individuals, families and providers, evolving as learning increases and as Indiana’s drug crisis changes; Comprehensive and Holistic: Indiana’s approach will be multi-faceted and focused on substance abuse prevention, early intervention, treatment, recovery and enforcement; Collaborative: The state will align and focus the efforts of multiple state agencies that currently provide substance abuse services and resources. Further, Indiana’s approach makes clear that local communities, state officials, and the federal government must all have a stake in helping overcoming the drug crisis.

  • HPI Analysis: Trump controversies swirl by Pence
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – Let me make one thing perfectly clear: Vice President Mike Pence arduously sticks to highly scripted, time-tested, narrow talking points. And President Trump? Not so much. Sad! This past week, we’ve witnessed a honeymoonless White House  teetering somewhere in a legal and constitutional no man’s land. It shifted into higher gear Wednesday with the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s hiring of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel for the Russia/Trump campaign probe. And it has raised the specter of a potential Trump impeachment and a possible Pence presidency. On Wednesday, Pence filed FEC paperwork for the creation of a new leadership PAC.
        
  • DOJ announces former FBI Director Mueller to head Russia probe
    Howey Politics Indiana

    INDIANAPOLIS - The U.S. Justice Department is appointing former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to take over Russia investigation, according to NBC correspondent Pete Williams. It comes as a growing number of bipartisan members of Congress began calling for a special prosecutor in the wake of a series of bombshell events that included President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, reports that he had pressed Comey for his “loyalty” and asked that the FBI probe of Michael Flynn be dropped. Mueller served 12 years as FBI director, second in tenure only to the legendary J. Edgar Hoover.  Developing . . . .
  • Atomic: IN GOP delegation reacts; Watergate scale; WH chaos
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Indiana delegation reacts to Trump bombshells: The bombshells from the Trump White House are becoming a front line siege, with Hoosier members of the congressional delegation mostly clinging to the pocked GOP ramparts. The most stalwart supporter of President Trump appears to be U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, who said on Tuesday, “Every day Washington liberals throw some new phony attack at the wall to see what sticks. While they play political games, the Middle East is on fire and Iran has been empowered. North Korea is threatening the world. Russia has never been more influential since the fall of the Berlin Wall. All of this is because of the naive, failed foreign policy of the Obama administration and Washington liberals including Joe Donnelly. They've made America less safe. I have confidence that President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis, Director Coats and our intelligence and law enforcement agencies will keep America safe."

  • Buttigieg, intel leaders alarmed by Trump disclosure to Russians
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, an U.S. Navy Reserve intelligence officer, reacted to news that President Trump revealed highly classified material on ISIS to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador by suggesting that living assets could be at risk. According to the Washington Post, in his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Oval Office last week, Trump seemed to be boasting about his inside knowledge of the looming threat. “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” the president said, according to an official with knowledge of the exchange. The meeting came a day after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, which he said on Thursday was due to the FBI probe on Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.

  • Atomic: Pence's deal; White House shakeup; Banks on tapes
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Pence’s deal with the devil: Talking points for your Monday power lunch: Last June when scores of prominent Republicans brandished 10-foot poles when it came to Donald Trump’s veepstakes, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was all in. He got the prize on July 14, though he had to wait a day while Trump pondered a renege. In rescuing Pence’s political career from a gubernatorial reelect in perilous territory, the ambitious Pence made a deal with the political devil. He was entering the wolf’s lair, a viper nest. This past week, Pence had to endure the second instance where he was exposed as either internally misinformed by President Trump and senior staff, or outright lied to.
  • Atomic: INSen 'hatchet job'; shifty Trump; GOP tanks; RFRA echo
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Golden, Colo.

    1. Messer cites ‘Rokita hatchet job’: Your final power lunch talking points: Jennifer Messer, wife of U.S. Rep. Luke Messer made $580,000 since 2015 for legal consulting she largely does from the Washington, D.C., area for the city of Fishers, “an unusually large sum even in a state rife with highly paid government contractors,” according to a review by the Associated Press. Mrs. Messer makes $20,000 a month working as a contract attorney for Fishers, according to the AP's review of public documents. Messer defended his wife, calling her the “brains of the Messer outfit” and saying the contract predated his political career. Messer is blaming a planted story line by his potential 2018 U.S. Senate opponent, U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita. In an email to supporters obtained by Howey Politics Indiana, Messer said, “For what it's worth, the story is a complete hatchet job directly attributable to Rokita."
  • Atomic: Trump, checks & balances; Donnelly, GOP react; Ruck
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Breckenridge, Colo.

    1. A crisis test of our checks and balances: There were three investigations into President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and whether there was collusion with the Russian government to impact the outcome: The U.S. House, the U.S. Senate and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Only one of those - the FBI - could press criminal charges against the president, his inner circle, or campaign aides. On Tuesday, President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. The “you-gotta-be-kidding-me” aspect to this is that Trump cited a three-page letter from Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein blaming Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe. Rosenstein explained that Comey refused "to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken" to go public in July with his reasons for recommending no criminal charges again Clinton, and that he was “wrong to usurp the Attorney General's authority" to announce that the case would be closed. Trump, who was reportedly fuming about the Russia probe for the past two weeks, has now fired FBI Director Comey, Manhattan D.A. Preet Bharara, and Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, all while investigating the president.
  • President Trump fires FBI Director Comey citing Clinton probe

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. - President Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey. The dismissal comes as the FBI is investigating connections between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government and whether it impacted the 2016 presidential election. “The president has accepted the recommendation of the Attorney General and the deputy Attorney General regarding the dismissal of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” said White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Trump said he was acting on the advice of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The firing comes as the FBI investigates the Trump campaign for its alleged connections to the Russian government, which U.S. intelligence agencies have said attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election.

  • HPI Horse Race: First look at 2018 Indiana Senate races
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    NASHVILLE, Ind. – With the 2017 General Assembly concluded, the 2018 mid-term election cycle begins to set up, with State Sen. Jim Tomes already announcing a bid for a third term. Scanning 2014 and 2010 results, as well as for a potential national mid-term dynamic that impacted the 2010 election, HPI has identified five Indiana Senate seats where the pluralities were under 5,000 votes as a measure of where competitive races could take shape. We add a sixth seat, that of State Sen. Ron Alting to the mix because he has been so conspicuous on an array of different issues that could potentially prompt a credible challenger to emerge.
        
  • HPI Analysis: Hoosiers and the Trump/Pence milestone
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    NASHVILLE, Ind. – There is agreement with President Donald Trump in these quarters that his “100-day” milepost is the arbitrary product of network TV producers and newspaper assignment editors. So why not a 105-day assessment? From the Hoosier perspective, Republicans like U.S. Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita continue to rally around their president, though it might be more a function of their loyalty to Vice President Mike Pence. When they appear with President Trump, they have star-struck looks on their faces. They tell me they feel that support in the 4th and 6th CDs. In 2016, driving these  prairies was to find them punctuated with Trump/Pence signs, many homemade. This writer, reaching some 300,000 Hoosiers with the weekly newspaper column, feels the same thing. A poll (which isn’t in the works) along with our gut would probably find Trump’s support in Indiana above 60%. Columns that assail Trump often bring a batch of critical reader emails.
  • Atomic: Mission accomplished! a Pence win; Sec. Lawson reelect
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Mission Accomplished! Your final power lunch talking points for a historic week: The House passage of the American Health Care Act, which had a 17% approval rating in March, was celebrated by President Trump, Vice President Pence and 217 House Republicans in the Rose Garden. It was a do something/anything vote so Republicans don’t lose their Trumpian base in 2018. But multiple media outlets drew the comparison to President George W. Bush’s October 2003 “Mission Accomplished” speech celebrating his “victory” in the Iraq War invasion, which came as a deadly insurgency was building, one that would claim more than 5,000 American lives. While Bush won reelection in 2004, the war turned into a 2006 election debacle that swept Democrats Joe Donnelly, Baron Hill and Brad Ellsworth into Congress. So Thursday’s photo op featured a bunch of rich, older white guys giving yuuuuge tax cuts for the rich and encroaching on an entitlement for the poor and middle class. It’s noteworthy that future U.S. Senate challengers Todd Rokita and Luke Messer were not particularly conspicuous in the Rose Garden photo op.

  • House GOP gets 217 votes to scuttle Obamacare
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - After more than 50 votes to repeal Obamacare over the past seven years, House Republicans walked a rollicking policy plank on Thursday, voting with 217 votes for the American Health Care Act or HR 1628. All Indiana Republicans voted for the bill and the two Indiana Democrats opposed. For the second time in the last seven years, the House has voted by party line vote for majore social reengineering. Democrats taunted the GOP by singing a Chicago White Sox victory anthem, “Nah nah nah nah, hey, hey, hey, GOODBYE!" U.S. Rep. Jim Banks reacted, saying, “While this is not a perfect bill, it is a significant step forward from the failures of Obamacare. This legislation has many important reforms that will benefit Hoosier families. These include permanently repealing the medical device tax, eliminating the individual mandate, opening up new options for states and protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions. Today is an important step in the long process of rolling back Obamacare, enacting free market reforms and improving our country’s health care system.” But U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly called it a "disaster" for Hoosier families.
  • GOP delegation to vote for TrumpCare; defections on budget
    Howey Politics Indiana
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – Several national publications had been listing U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks as ‘“undecided” on today’s vote on the American Health Care Act. But spokeswoman Kristen Johnson told Howey Politics Indiana on Wednesday, “That is incorrect. She’s a yes.” She joins the other seven Republican members of the Indiana delegation who are expected to vote yes. The Washington Post is reporting this morning that 20 Republicans oppose the bill and 35 are undecided. The New York Times has 18 Republicans opposing and 33 undecided. Exiting the relatively brief leadership meeting, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) guaranteed victory. “Do we have the votes? Yes. Will we pass it? Yes,” he told reporters. Vice President Mike Pence and CMS Director Seema Verma spent the last three days on Capitol Hill seeking enough votes to get the AHCA to the 216 vote threshold.
  • Atomic: Pence eyes votes; Trump & Jackson; funds for Red Line
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Pence works TrumpCare 2.0 on Capitol Hill: Your Tuesday power lunch talking points: Vice President Mike Pence is trying for a second time to revive an Obamacare repeal/replace bill. Pence and GOP leaders spent a lot of time on the Hill yesterday trying to lock down votes, without a lot of apparent success, according to Axios, which reported: “President Trump showed a bit of defensiveness yesterday when he suggested to Bloomberg that the bill is ‘not in its final form’ on pre-existing conditions: ‘I want it to be good for sick people ... It will be every bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare.’ For Republicans who want to make sure the bill is already good for sick people, that wasn't a confidence builder.”

  • Atomic: Awaiting Holcomb; cities react; Deficit Mike; Zuck & Pete
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Awaiting Eric Holcomb’s decisions: Your Monday power lunch talking points. Gov. Eric Holcomb has 13 bills still awaiting his signature or a veto. He is under intense pressure to veto both the Ricker’s cold beer bill, and a second that would eliminate much of the current financial benefit available to those who install solar panels. Both bills will test a central theme of Gov. Holcomb, which is “change or die.”  CEO Jay Ricker insists that his convenience store chain is under pressure from everything from electric vehicles to rising fuel standards. As for the solar panels, fly into Indianapolis International Airport or drive south on SR135 near Bargersville and solar farms are this decade’s version of wind farms.
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  • Vice President Pence returns for Indy 500
    “Very humbled by the warm and enthusiastic response as Karen and I took a lap around the historic @IMS. #Indy500.” - Vice President Mike Pence, returning to Indiana for the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500. Pence and his wife Karen traveled to his hometown of Columbus prior to heading to Indy. Some 300,000 people are expected to attend the race.
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  • Rest in Peace Gregg Allman
    My sons and I had a long time saying: "And on the Seventh Day, God created the Allman Brothers." It amazed me that my sons, some 35 years younger than I, gravitated to some of my most beloved rock n' roll and that included the Allman Brothers. Founder Gregg Allman passed away on Saturday at age 69. The New York Times observed that Gregg Allman was the "principal architects of a taut, improvisatory fusion of blues, jazz, country and rock that — streamlined by inheritors like Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Marshall Tucker Band — became the Southern rock of the 1970s." I remember the Allman Brothers playing the night before the 1979 Indianapolis 500 at Market Square Arena (Dickie Betts got mad during the show, slammed the mic on the stage and stormed off). My simple eulogy is that Gregg Allman and his landmark band consistently stirred my soul. Rest In Peace. - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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