Republican Representative Eric Turner says he disclosed to fellow Republicans in private caucus meetings all ties to the nursing home industry and followed House rules. Turner submitted sworn written testimony to the House Ethics Committee that met today.
Turner wasn’t present at the Ethics Committee hearing, convened to investigate allegations that he improperly lobbied against a nursing home construction moratorium when he and his son both have ties to the nursing home industry. He instead responded to written questions prepared by committee leadership.
Turner’s attorney Toby McClamroch says the Cicero lawmaker’s answers were clear and the evidence bears out that he didn’t violate any rules.
“Before he made his comments in caucus, he preceded those comments by advising the caucus of his interest in the nursing homes and advising them that his son’s involved in the business and that he had ownership interest, so he was very careful in the way he addressed the caucus,” McClamroch says.
House rules bar lawmakers from sponsoring or voting on bills with which they have a conflict of interest, but they do allow legislators to provide expertise.
The Ethics Committee’s ranking Democrat Clyde Kersey says he’s satisfied with the answers provided by Turner.
“There’s a lot of things we don’t know anything about, of course. What went on in caucus stays in caucus,” Kersey says. “As far as everything else, he followed the rules.”
Ethics Committee Chair Greg Steuerwald says that provision is important to the Indiana General Assembly. Changes could be coming to the Indiana House ethics rules after lawmakers met Wednesday to investigate Republican Representative Eric Turner.
Steuerwald says the Ethics Committee will consider later this summer if any changes to the ethics rules are needed. Kersey says the rules need to be tightened up and made clearer:
“For example, should a legislator list all of his business interests and not just the primary company?” Kersey says. “That’s something we’ll be looking at.”
The Ethics Committee will meet next week to make final determinations about Turner’s actions and make recommendations to the House Speaker.