House Republican Leader Ethics Complaint

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Note: The February 26, 2003, delivery of an ethics complaint against Mr. Brian C. Bosma, Indiana House Minority Leader, to the Indiana House Statutory Ethics Committee was the sad culmination of a frustrating series of actions. Listed below are the only comments that Watchdog Indiana will offer regarding this matter.

December 10, 2002, E-mail from Watchdog Indiana to Brian C. Bosma:

Hello Representative Bosma,

Immediately reinstate Jim Buck to the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee!

The overriding reason you replaced Jim on the Committee is you feel he did not contribute enough money to your House Republican Caucus during the recent election. Speaking for politically independent Hoosiers, your action is simply reprehensible.

Jim is the best friend of Hoosier taxpayers. He is knowledgeable, experienced, results-oriented, compassionate, and fiscally conservative. His knowledge of the state budget is equaled by few in the State House. Jim espouses those principles you publicly profess more effectively than any other House Republican.

You have been identified as one elected official capable of transcending "politics as usual" to provide the type of leadership desired by the independent voter. It now appears you are becoming an ordinary politician who thinks mere money can buy enough votes to keep you in power. Politically independent Hoosiers will always decide close elections. We are not swayed by the slick campaign that money can buy. We make voting decisions based on factual analysis. We want authentic problem solvers who are results-oriented, compassionate, and fiscally conservative.

You can salvage your budding reputation as a problem solver that appeals to the independent voter. You have until 5:00 p.m., Monday, December 16 to reinstate Jim Buck to the Ways and Means Committee.

Sincerely,

Aaron Smith, Founder
www.watchdogindiana.org

February 25, 2003, E-mail from Brian C. Bosma to Watchdog Indiana:

Dear Mr. Smith:

Thank you for your recent e-mail regarding Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee.  You called for replacement of several of those members and alluded to your dissatisfaction with the fact that Representative Phyllis Pond and Representative Jim Buck are no longer serving on the committee.  You also infer that "political payola" has been placed above competence in the appointment of Republican members to the House Ways and Means Committee.  I am at a loss to understand the basis for this charge.

It is customary for the House Republican caucus to reorganize itself following the general election each two years.  A part of this organization involves the appointment of caucus members to House committees, and discussions are held with individual members as to their interests and the need of the caucus for expertise on the various committees.   With this in mind, you may want to be aware of the following with respect to Representatives Pond and Buck.

In addition to her service on the House Ways and Means Committee, Representative Pond has exceptionally strong education expertise through her many years as a classroom teacher.  With education representing such a significant influence on Indiana*s economy, and with the loss of several critical members of this committee, the House Republican Caucus needed a strong   ranking minority member on the House Education Committee. At my request, Representative Pond accepted the call to lend her expertise as the Ranking Minority Member on the Education Committee and did so knowing that it is not possible for Ranking Members to also serve on the House Ways and Means Committee and vice versa given the respective duties of each. 

During my discussions with Representative Jim Buck, Jim indicated that he was frustrated with his service on Ways and Means and that a change in his committee assignment would not really bother him too much.  He likewise accepted the call to serve as the Ranking Minority Member of the Interstate Cooperation Committee. 

As you might guess, the committee appointment and leadership appointment process is a difficult one, and I do my best to match the talents of the individual legislator and balance the need for both experience and opportunity for newer members of our caucus to serve in leadership roles and on highly sought after committees such as Ways and Means, Commerce, Education and Technology.  To suggest that committee assignments are based on political contributions alone is not only baseless, it defies logic, as most of the members appointed to Ways and Means were not the top contributors to our caucus efforts.  

To the extent you are demanding that I remove or replace any member of any committee, I certainly hope you understand that many lobbyists and special interest groups have demanded similar preferential treatment, and of course, I have refused all such demands and requests from outside parties.  To accept any such demands would tarnish the process beyond belief.

 I have maintained a copy of your "demand" in the event it is needed for future reference.  I appreciate your contacting me about committee assignments and trust that you will find the information I have shared with you of benefit.   

February 26, 2003, E-mail from Watchdog Indiana to Brian C. Bosma (every House Republican was copied):

Hello Representative Bosma,

Thank you for your reply below (under my name) to the dissatisfaction I first expressed last December 10 regarding your improper removal of Jim Buck from the Ways and Means Committee. I later expanded my disagreement with your actions to include Phyllis Pond.

Your reply is not convincing. I have decided to file an ethics complaint with the House Statutory Ethics Committee. A copy of my complaint (Word and Excel documents) is attached to this E-mail. The complaint is also available online at http://www.finplaneducation.net/lobbyist_influence.htm

Some persons have confidentially told me some things that have ultimately led to my decision to file the ethics complaint. I will not reveal my sources to anyone. If the Ethics Committee does its job correctly, certain persons will be asked certain questions. The way these persons respond to these questions should determine the outcome of the ethics complaint. The documentation included in my ethics complaint actually supports both our positions very well. Testimony to the Committee should be the deciding factor.

No matter the outcome of the ethics complaint, and no matter what testimony is given by anyone, I will harbor no ill feelings toward you or anyone else. I do understand "politics in the big leagues" and will not waste my emotion on acrimony based solely on personal disappointment.

It may surprise you, but I actually hold you in high esteem. You still have a Watchdog Indiana Taxpayer Friendly rating. But you crossed the line when you sold Ways and Means Committee seats for House Republican Campaign Committee contributions. I wish to explain to you, and the members of your caucus, why this politics-as-usual action crossed my line.

My political world is wrapped up in the expression of results-oriented, compassionate, and fiscally responsible ideas after the accumulation and analysis of facts. I desire, in my own small way, to be an opinion maker.

A few legislators tell me they find my ideas thought provoking, and for this I am grateful.

Some legislators let me know by their actions that we have philosophical differences. They analyze the same facts I do and reach different conclusions. I can only try to show them where their logic is faulty - or learn from them where my ideas need refinement.

A few legislators take the trouble to let me know when they think my fact finding efforts are lacking. I am not wise if I do not take their counsel to heart.

Most legislators just ignore me. My job is to make it difficult to ignore me.

I pretty well understand the give and take involved with the exchange of ideas in the political arena. However, I will not sit by dispassionately when the exercise of political nonsense interferes with the expression of my ideas. Jim Buck has the courage to effectively express a political philosophy that I find appealing. In other words, he gives public life to many ideas that I earnestly profess in my own puny way. When you arbitrarily removed Jim Buck from the Ways and Means Committee, you crossed the line because you interfered with the vicarious expression of my ideas.

I plan to hand deliver my ethics complaint about 1:00 PM today. I will have my cell phone (317-903-8526) on after 10:00 AM. In my perfect political world, you would express a satisfactory mea culpa and I would join your supporters at your side extolling your virtue as a political leader with uncommon courage and candor.

Happy Trails

Aaron Smith

February 26, 2003, Ethics Complaint Form:

DATE: February 26, 2003 (hand-delivered)

TO: Mr. Clyde Kersey, Chair Indiana House Statutory Ethics Committee
       Mr. Paul Robertson, Vice Chair IN House Statutory Ethics Committee
       Mr. Russ Stilwell, Member Indiana House Statutory Ethics Committee
       Mr. Robert A. Hoffman, Ranking Minority Member IN H. S. Ethics Com.
       Mr. William J. Ruppel, Member Indiana House Statutory Ethics Com.

FROM: Mr. Aaron Smith, Founder
              Watchdog Indiana
              2625 Countryside Drive
              Lebanon, IN 46052
              E-mail: taxless@watchdogindiana.org

RE: ETHICS COMPLAINT BRIAN C. BOSMA
(submitted in accordance with the Procedure on Pg. 90 of the House Rules book)

Dear selected Members of the Indiana House Statutory Ethics Committee:

Mr. Brian C. Bosma has committed a breach of privilege as Minority Leader in the Indiana House of Representatives.

Mr. Bosma has also violated the ethics code where every member of the Indiana House of Representatives shall, to the best of his or her ability, be fully objective when considering a proposition upon which he or she must act, keeping the welfare of all the citizens of the state in mind at all times.

This complaint form was not hand-delivered to the sixth Member of the Indiana House Statutory Ethics Committee, Ms. Kathy Kreag Richardson. As Treasurer of the House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC), Ms. Richardson might not be in a position to objectively consider this complaint.

Speaker B. Patrick Bauer appointed the members of the House Ways and Means Committee (WMC) for the One Hundred Thirteenth General Assembly of Indiana. Speaker Bauer relied on Minority Leader Bosma to recommend the eleven Republican members of the WMC.

Mr. Bosma is Chairperson of the HRCC. The overriding criteria for his recommendation of Republican WMC members was the amount of money each House Republican contributed, or caused to be contributed, in 2002 to the HRCC. Mr. Bosma's WMC recommendations were a breach of privilege and an ethics violation because they were based on criteria other than a fully objective consideration of the welfare of all the citizens of the state. Because the WMC is the crucial maker of fiscal policy in the House, Hoosiers deserve the best-qualified public servants as members, not just those who contribute enough campaign money to meet a political payola threshold.

The attachments to this complaint form primarily present details regarding the WMC removals of Mr. James R. Buck and Ms. Phyllis J. Pond as supporting documentation for this complaint against Mr. Bosma.

Please promptly consider this ethics complaint. I trust your decision will include sufficient sanctions and corrective measures to help restore public confidence in the leadership of the Indiana House of Representatives.

Sincerely,

Aaron Smith, Founder
www.watchdogindiana.org

BRIAN C. BOSMA ETHICS COMPLAINT
Supporting Documentation
(compiled February 26, 2003)

First of all, it is common knowledge among some Indiana House members that Mr. James R. Buck and Ms. Phyllis J. Pond were not re-appointed to the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee (WMC) because they did not contribute enough money in 2002 to the House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC). Mr. Brian C. Bosma is Chairperson of the HRCC, and he clearly conveyed to some House Republicans the importance of HRCC contributions to his committee recommendations.

An analysis of last year's HRCC contributions provides additional proof of Mr. Bosma's ethics violation. HRCC contributions in 2002 totaled $1,799,623.11, of which $679,986.70 came from the forty House Republicans who were re-elected. The individual HRCC contribution from each of these forty Republicans is ranked in the table below.

Indiana House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC)

2002 Contributions From Candidate Committees For Re-elected House Republicans

(compiled February 26, 2003)

Re-elected Republican Reps

HRCC Contributions

Rank

Cash On Hand
December 31, 2002

2002 Election
% Vote / Opposition

Brian C. Bosma

$140,193.06

1

$38,715.20

Unopposed

Mike Smith

$62,526.07

2

$0.00

Unopposed

Jeff Espich (W&M)

$58,735.28

3

$788.01

73% / Democrat

Kathy Kreag Richardson

$32,375.00

4

$9,250.29

82% / Democrat

David B. Yount

$23,000.00

5

$16,553.98

75% / Democrat

P. Eric Turner (W&M)

$21,800.00

6

$2,705.46

Unopposed

David N. Frizzell

$21,574.65

7

$13,484.04

91% / Libertarian

Vanetta G. Becker

$19,078.84

8

$62,444.11

Unopposed

Cindy Noe

$18,000.00

9

$4,439.96

71% / Dem., Libert.

Ralph Ayres (W&M)

$17,500.00

10

$23,007.93

Unopposed

Michael A. Ripley

$16,524.20

11

$3,021.68

Unopposed

Bob Cherry (W&M)

$14,883.00

12

$5,980.85

86% / Libertarian

Timothy N. Brown

$14,650.00

13

$319.60

Unopposed

Robert W. Behning

$14,125.00

14

$35,945.60

89% / Libertarian

Lawrence L. Buell (W&M)

$13,000.00

15

$10,103.65

91% / Libertarian

William C. Friend

$12,650.00

16

$674.61

90% / Libertarian

Sue W. Scholer

$12,467.71

17

$4,299.52

53% / Democrat

Thomas E. Saunders

$11,602.60

18

$4,819.23

79% / Libert., Indep.

Randy L. Borror (W&M)

$11,500.00

19

$10,185.09

Unopposed

David A. Wolkins (W&M)

$11,500.00

19

$13,067.62

90% / Libertarian

Robert A. Hoffman

$11,168.69

21

$3,319.34

69% / Democrat

Ralph M. Foley

$11,131.93

22

$5,902.73

87% / Libertarian

Rich W. McClain (W&M)

$11,000.00

23

$14,778.28

Unopposed

Mary Kay Budak

$10,642.02

24

$8,556.09

83% / Libertarian

Cleo Duncan

$10,500.00

25

$5,769.67

85% / Libertarian

Gerald R. Torr

$10,210.00

26

$1,750.78

Unopposed

Richard Mangus

$10,000.00

27

$5,155.44

Unopposed

Woody Burton

$9,181.00

28

$1,164.15

71% / Dem., Libert.

Robert K. Alderman

$7,000.00

29

$13,562.06

Unopposed

William J. Ruppel

$6,606.85

30

$1,447.04

Unopposed

L. Jack Lutz

$6,500.00

31

$1,020.29

Unopposed

Phillip D. Hinkle (W&M)

$6,250.00

32

$594.09

92% / Libertarian

Jeff Thompson (W&M)

$6,000.00

33

$4,064.99

Unopposed

Dennis K. Kruse (W&M)*

$5,439.32

34

$5,507.03

79% / Libertarian

Michael B. Murphy

$5,125.00

35

$41,120.71

72% / Dem., Libert.

Phyllis J. Pond

$4,483.40

36

$14,879.42

Unopposed

James R. Buck

$3,250.00

37

$3,974.03

Unopposed

Dean A. Young

$2,813.08

38

$3,050.09

71% / Democrat

Matthew Whetstone

$0.00

39

$2,360.21

90% / Libertarian

John D. Ulmer

$0.00

39

$0.00

Unopposed

Totals

$679,986.70

$397,782.87

Source: Rpts. of Rcpts./Expenditures for Candidate Committees (from IN Campaign Fin. Database)

( online at http://www.indianacampaignfinance.com/Committees/entity_list.asp?Type=CAN#A )

Key:

(W&M) = returning Ways & Means Committee member

(W&M) = new Ways & Means Committee member

Representatives Pond and Buck removed from the Ways and Means committee

*Kruse's apparent relative (Dean Kruse, P.O. Box 7, Auburn, IN 46706) contributed $5,000 11/12/02.

The following Republicans were re-appointed to the WMC: Jeff Espich, P. Eric Turner, Ralph Ayres, Rich W. McClain, David A. Wolkins, Lawrence L. Buell, Dennis K. Kruse. The new Republican WMC members are Bob Cherry, Jeff Thompson, Phillip D. Hinkle, and Randy L. Borror. William C. Friend left the Committee to become the House Republican Floor Leader. Ms. Pond and Mr. Buck were replaced on the WMC because they did not contribute enough money to the HRCC.

Among the forty re-elected Republicans, Ms. Pond and Mr. Buck ranked 36th and 37th respectively in HRCC contributions. On December 31,2002, Representative Pond had contributed $4,483.40 to the HRCC and still had $14,879.42 cash on hand. Representative Buck had contributed $3,250.00 and had $3,974.03 cash on hand.

Each re-appointed Republican WMC member contributed more to the HRCC than Ms. Pond and Mr. Buck. A special case is the $5,439.32 HRCC contribution attributed to Mr. Dennis K. Kruse. Mr. Kruse's candidate committee directly contributed $439.32. The additional $5,000.00 was contributed to the HRCC on November 12, 2002, by one of Mr. Kruse's apparent relatives, a Mr. Dean Kruse (P.O. Box 7, Auburn, IN 46706).

Each new Republican WMC member also contributed more than Ms. Pond and Mr. Buck. Their contributions ranged from a total of $6,000.00 to $14,883.00.

Because Mr. Bosma insisted on HRCC contributions from House Republicans, the stain of lobbyist influence is more pronounced in this session of the General Assembly. Only nine of the forty re-elected Republicans had Democratic opposition, and eight of them received at least 69 percent of the votes cast. Thirteen of the re-elected Republicans had only Libertarian and/or Independent opposition. Eighteen had no general election opposition on November 5. Except for their HRCC contribution requirements, the re-elected Republicans did not need to raise much money for campaigning. Since most campaign money comes from those who desire special interest "access," lobbyist influence in the House is considerably stronger than it would otherwise be with no HRCC contribution demands from Mr. Bosma.

The new Republican members do not bring a depth of experience to the WMC. Ms. Pond has been in the House 24 years. Mr. Buck has been a Representative for 8 years. The experience of the new Republican WMC members ranges from only 13 months to 4 years.

While neither Ms. Pond nor Mr. Buck deserved to lose their WMC seats because of their failure to contribute sufficient amounts to the HRCC, the particular qualifications of Mr. Buck demonstrate the capriciousness of Mr. Bosma's actions. Mr. Buck is one of only two House Republicans with an MBA degree. He is one of seventeen House Republicans with an advanced College degree. He was on the WMC the past four years. Mr. Buck's knowledge of the state budget is equaled by few in the State House.

Finally, Mr. Bosma cannot claim that Ms. Pond and Mr. Buck were not re-appointed so there would be at least one WMC member from each congressional district as required by House Rule 53.2. The table below showing the WMC congressional district breakdown reveals Democratic appointments from each congressional district except district 5. The re-appointment of Mr. P. Eric Turner satisfies the district 5 requirement. None of the new member appointments were needed to satisfy the congressional district breakdown required by House Rule 53.2.

Indiana House Ways and Means Committee

Congressional District Breakdown

(compiled February 26, 2003)

Democratic Ways and Means Committee Members

Congressional District

William Crawford

7

Sheila Klinker

4

William Cochran

9

Dennis Avery

8

R. Tiny Adams

6

John Frenz

8

Ben GiaQuinta

3

Clyde Kersey

8

John Aguilera

1

Terri Austin

6

Duane Cheney

1

John Day

7

Ron Herrell

2

Carolene Mays

7

David Orentlicher

7

Philip Pflum

6

Peggy Welch

9

Republican Ways and Means Committee Members

Congressional District

Jeff Espich (W&M)

6

P. Eric Turner (W&M)

5

Ralph Ayres (W&M)

1

Bob Cherry (W&M)

5

Lawrence L. Buell (W&M)

7

Randy L. Borror (W&M)

3

David A. Wolkins (W&M)

3

Rich W. McClain (W&M)

2

Phillip D. Hinkle (W&M)

7

Jeff Thompson (W&M)

4

Dennis K. Kruse (W&M)

3

Phyllis J. Pond

3

James R. Buck

2

Key:

(W&M) = re-appointed Republican Ways & Means Committee member

(W&M) = new Republican Ways & Means Committee member

Representatives Pond and Buck removed from Ways and Means Committee

April 7, 2003, House Ethics Committee finding:

Dear Sirs:

The undersigned members of the House Ethics Committee have reviewed the complaint submitted by Mr. Smith, dated February 26, 2003. Pursuant to IC 2-2.1-3 and the Rules of the Committee, a copy of the complaint has been provided to Representative Bosma.

The first step of the review process is for the Committee to determine whether the complaint alleges facts sufficient to constitute a violation of the House Ethics Code. What this means is that the Committee shall analyze the facts that are stated in the complaint and consider those facts in light of the Code of Ethics, which is at the back of our House Rules book.

We find that the complaint does not allege facts that are sufficient to constitute a violation of the House Ethics Code. Other than speculation on the part of Mr. Smith, the complaint contains no affidavits or other evidence that would indicate Representative Bosma has done anything other than properly perform the duties of his office. Therefore, the complaint is hereby dismissed.

Sincerely,

The Honorable Clyde Kersey, Chair, Ethics Committee
The Honorable Russ Stilwell, Member
The Honorable Kathy Richardson, Member
The Honorable Paul Robertson, Vice Chair
The Honorable Robert Hoffman, RMM
The Honorable William Ruppel, Member

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