The Indiana House Ethics Committee will meet Wednesday to determine whether Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, violated House rules when advocating against a nursing facility construction moratorium that could have cost his son millions.
In the wake of the legislative session, media reports surfaced that Turner lobbied hard behind closed doors to kill a measure that would have temporarily halted construction of new nursing homes. Turner’s son Zeke owns a nursing home expansion business. The House Ethics Committee, at the request of Speaker Brian Bosma, is looking into the matter but hasn’t sanctioned a lawmaker in nearly 20 years.
Still, political analyst Ed Feigenbaum says Turner is clearly not making any assumptions:
“I think that Eric Turner has shown that he’s concerned,” Feigenbaum said. “He’s taking the charges seriously by hiring an attorney and by certainly fighting this in the media as well.”
But the policy director for Common Cause Indiana, a citizens lobbying group, says she isn’t sure the Ethics Committee has the realistic ability to do anything about Turner’s actions. Julia Vaughn says the House Ethics Rules should be rewritten to make them clearer and tougher. She says she also wants to see the enforcement system change.
“This whole process of asking sitting legislators to sit in judgment and potentially sanction another legislator is just doomed to failure,” Vaughn said.
Vaughn says she’s spoken with Ethics Committee chair Greg Steuerwald and says she’s hopeful that, at a minimum, the Statement of Economic Interest lawmakers are required to submit will be made clearer to help uncover potential conflicts of interest.