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Indiana Lawmaker Cleared of Ethics Wrongdoing

Rep. Eric Turner said earlier he welcomed an investigation into questions of ethics violations.

An Indiana House Ethics Committee report approved Wednesday says the committee’s investigation into Republican Representative Eric Turner reveals a need to review House rules and its code of ethics.

The Ethics Committee was charged to investigate allegations that Turner improperly lobbied against a nursing home construction moratorium when he and his son both have ties to the nursing home industry. The ranking Democratic committee member Clyde Kersey says a report unanimously approved by the committee says evidence reveals no violation of House rules or its code of ethics.

“But I think as state representatives and elected officials, we’re expected to go beyond that and so we hope to, in the future, revise some of our House rules and the supplemental interest and make it more transparent,” Kersey says.

Turner was not present at Wednesday’s hearing. His attorney, Toby McClamroch, says the report exonerates the Republican lawmaker.

“They may have to go back and take a look at the law on disclosure and if they do that, he’ll be willing to not only help with the process but comply with the law,” McClamroch says.

Chairman Greg Steuerwald says the committee will meet this summer to consider significant changes to the ethics rules. He says he thinks the financial disclosures need to be refined.

We want to make sure everybody understands what is called for and we want to make sure that, in conjunction with that, that we make the proper disclosures to keep the public trust,” Steuerwald says.

Common Cause Indiana’s Julia Vaughn says the committee’s recognition of flaws in the ethics rules is a significant move in the right direction. But the citizens lobbying group’s policy director says for the upcoming review to be successful, Hoosiers have to demand more from their lawmakers.

“We shouldn’t put up with this,” Vaughn says. “We deserve better ethics in our state government, in all branches of state government. So we should be disgusted that this type of self-serving behavior is not against the rules.”

Ethics Committee members say they hope to have changes to the ethics rules ready for the General Assembly’s next session.

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