Unjust Newspaper Coverage

In the past couple of weeks, The Indianapolis Star has published the first two articles of a three-part series: “Culture of coziness.” The author, investigative reporter Matthew Tully, attempts to link money with the decisions that legislators make, and tries to show conflicts of interest between industries in which legislators are or have been engaged and the stance that legislators take on issues affecting those industries. The third article of the series is to describe the transparency required to reduce these alleged conflicts of interest.

Mr. Tully seems to be of the opinion that the rules — regarding use of political action committee funds, lobbyists’ relationships with legislators, and legislators pushing for or against issues that affect industries in which they have experience and expertise — are weaker in Indiana than in other states. Unless he addresses this perceived weakness in his upcoming final article, he has failed to provide readers with specifics regarding Indiana General Assembly rules.

If I am correct in my assumption, would it not make more sense to report on the facts of our laws in comparison to other states? Where exactly do Indiana’s rules of conduct fall short compared to the rest of the nation?

Instead Tully has chosen to pick on the business of banking, which during the past few years has been the target of much inaccurate negative publicity. Unfortunately he seems to lack knowledge of issues facing the banking industry, and I see no evidence that he has attempted to develop a full understanding.

Mostly I am disappointed by the innuendoes that Indiana legislators act illegally or unethically. Particularly, Tully has attempted to malign the reputations of Sen. Travis Holdman and Rep. Woody Burton, who chair the Banking Committees in their respective chambers of the legislature. In contrast to the salacious tone of Tully’s writing, both gentlemen are statesmen of the highest order — two of the most honorable people I have ever met.

Sen. Holdman has been a Division of Family and Children county caseworker and director, Wells County deputy prosecutor, owner of a title insurance company, a private practice attorney, president of a small bank, and even served abroad as a missionary. He draws upon his vast experience to carry bills for many worthy causes.

Rep. Burton is regarded as the hardest working member of the House of Representatives in the area of providing constituent services to his district. He has an open door and an open mind, ever willing to listen to different views, and consistently looking at both sides of each issue.

If Matthew Tully has concerns about Indiana legal or ethical rules, then he should document discrepancies and advocate for change. Rather, he seems intent on changing rules by sullying the reputations of those who are following them. This attack on the reputations of honorable, law-abiding individuals and organizations does not uphold the otherwise high standards of The Indianapolis Star.

“Conflicts of interest rampant at Indiana Statehouse” http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013303220034

“The Indiana Statehouse money trail” http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013303290006

2 Responses to Unjust Newspaper Coverage

  1. goathollow says:

    Joe:

    Well said. In my limited knowledge of the legislative process, it seems Mr. Tully misses several important points:

    1) The special interest door swings both ways. That is, both sides on any issue have the same opportunity to make their views known to the legislators. The process may not be perfect, but it is equitable.

    2) Without lobbyists, how could legislators possibly keep up with all the different aspects of society for which they are charged to govern? He fails to recognize the breadth of knowledge lobbyists provide to our legislators, so they can make informed decisions.

    3) By definition, everyone belongs to a special interest group. Even he, and others like him, who lobby for greater legislative oversight and transparency are, in fact, a special interest group.
    – Aaron Curtis, Capstone Benefits Group

    • Aaron, you are right on, thanks. Ironically the morning after the first column was published, the Hoosier State Press Association, of which The Indianapolis Star is a member, was in the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee to testify on behalf of a useless requirement to force publishing information in the newspaper twice. This requirement obviously is beneficial only for the newspaper business, since more people get info from the Internet today, which would be much less expensive for those kinds of public notices. Pot calls skillet black???

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