Getting to Know Mike Pence

Hoosiers have gotten to know Mike Pence during his tenure as our dense and divisive Governor; that familiarity was why he was on track to lose his bid for re-election. But the rest of the country is just now getting an in-depth look at what, in Pence’s view, passes for policy. 

One such recent “introduction” began with this overview:

Much has been made of Republican Gov. Mike Pence’s record on LGBTQ issues. In 2000, when he was running for U.S. representative, Pence wrote that “Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexual’s [sic] as a ‘discreet and insular minority’ [sic] entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities.” He also said that funds meant to help people living with HIV or AIDS should no longer be given to organizations that provide HIV prevention services because they “celebrate and encourage” homosexual activity. Instead, he proposed redirecting those funds to anti-LGBTQ “conversion therapy” programs, which have been widely discredited by the medical community as being ineffective and dangerous.

The real focus of the story, however, is on Pence’s longstanding war on a woman’s right to control her own reproduction–not just his efforts to de-fund Planned Parenthood, or his signing of an outrageous, punitive and unconstitutional anti-choice law, but his less well-known diversion of millions of dollars in public funds that were supposed to provide food and health care for needy families to anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers.

Gov. Pence, who declined multiple requests for an interview with Rewire, has been outspoken about his anti-choice agenda… . people in need of abortion care are forced to take significant time off work, arrange child care, and possibly pay for a place to stay overnight in order to obtain it.

This environment is why a contract quietly signed by Pence last fall with the crisis pregnancy center umbrella organization Real Alternatives is so potentially dangerous for Indiana residents seeking abortion: State-subsidized crisis pregnancy centers not only don’t provide abortion but seek to persuade people out of seeking abortion, thus limiting their options.

Adding insult to injury, the three and a half million dollars going to Real Alternatives came from TANF funds.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, TANF is explicitly meant to clothe and feed children, or to create programs that help prevent “non-marital childbearing,” and Indiana’s contract with Real Alternatives does neither. The contract stipulates that Real Alternatives and its subcontractors must “actively promote childbirth instead of abortion.” The funds, the contract says, cannot be used for organizations that will refer clients to abortion providers or promote contraceptives as a way to avoid unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

Real Alternatives is an anti-choice organization run by a Pennsylvania lawyer who has no medical experience or background. The organization finances, and refers clients to, crisis pregnancy centers that encourage clients to carry their pregnancies to term and “helps” them decide between adoption or child rearing. “Counseling” and classes teach that abstinence is the only way to avoid unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

The article is lengthy and well researched, and it accurately portrays the unctuous Mike Pence that Hoosiers know so well.

We can just hope that the rest of the country comes to know him as well as we do. Quickly.


  1. Yes, one could also point to education policy under Pence. Lest we forget the migrant worker.
    Keep on!

  2. If I understand correctly, based upon the information that you have written above, Pence’s use if TANF funds for the contract with the PA firm may be considered illegal. If that is the case, why hasn’t someone filed a lawsuit against him. Ee all know that he has filed frivolous lawsuits against President Obama. However, it seems that a lawsuit against him for violating the Federal regs would be valid.

  3. Nancy, no lawsuit has been filed for the same reason that Tony Bennett got away with nothing more than a slap on the hand, for the same reason that Eric Turner was able to make himself a billionaire from the efforts of his fellow lawmakers and walk away with no repercussions, for the same reason that Mitch Daniels was able to walk into a job where he appointed the board of directors that hired him. The GOP has made Indiana a state of one-party rule through redistricting and voting restrictions, so they get to walk all over us with top-down, heavy handed rule instead of good governing.

  4. I’ve been reading with horror of Pence’s actions in Indiana, and was extremely grateful he was in flyover country–New Yorker for lands west of the Hudson. Now a New Yorker is attempting to inflict him on the entire country. Frightening indeed.

  5. I believe, for those of us in Indiana already aware of too much about Pence, we have learned the full extent of his bigotry with the selection by Trump, in collusion with and full approval of the GOP, to run for the vice presidency. If there were any minority groups Trump missed to aim his hatred and approved violence at, Pence would add those on his own list. My fear of Trump was vastly increased with the selection of Mike Pence and did NOT relieve my belief that he could be reelected governor and maintain his personal hold on the entire state of Indiana. He may be given dominion over the entire country.

  6. It’s as if Trump weren’t scary enough. The angry men had to bring in someone even scarier.

  7. I am a Realtor in the Indianapolis/Carmel area and, as such, cannot afford to be too outwardly political. However, I have been posting comments about our only real choices in this presidential election, because Trump and Pence are despicable. Thank you for this article, Sheila Kennedy. I hope you don’t mind if I use some of this information in my posts. I did not know about Pence’s deal to take money from the mouths of children to further his own hate-filled agenda. Pence is a good fit to this new, regressive Republican Platform. As the mother of a homosexual child who is the light of my life and married to a wonderful young woman, this new GOP sickens me.

  8. Thank you, Sheila Kennedy, for keeping us informed, giving us this forum, which I always find interesting, and allowing us to use the information you share with us!

  9. The most visible anti-abortion folks are pro-life until birth. After birth, the baby is on his or her own. Cutting funds for a child’s food and clothing will not lower the number of abortions. Contraception does and will. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I’ve never understood why the pro-life folks are so opposed to safe and reliable contraception.

  10. Don the con and Pense the dense are not surprising or unusual. People like that have always been around. We all know that.

    What’s utterly new is any Americans who will vote for them as President/VP. To me that’s utterly incomprehensible and, I hope the election shows, rare.

    One explanation is the con that’s been on for several decades by Rush and Roger, Grover and Ken, the Koch boys, and their friends. But is that the full explanation?

    I don’t know.

    Some say we’ve lost our faith in government. I would say to whatever degree that’s true we didn’t lose it, it was stolen by Republican Congresses, Governors, and State Houses and entertainment media as a result of their reaction to the failure of their party and it’s platform to accomplish anything good. It was the only story they had that explained all of that failure.

    When I lived in Mexico I learned about the cultural implications of the facts of government. Like most developing countries the average person knew for sure and correctly there that government was not legitimate. It was nothing more or less than the process for keeping poor people poor (natives) and rich people rich (Spaniard Conquestadors and their descendants). Consequently there was little respect by anybody for law and order.

    So good government rests on the cultural assumption that it is legitimate; that it’s Democratic; that it is the will of the people.

    I think that the erosion of that concept is even visible here in this bastion of liberal blogdom.

    Can it be restored? Nobody knows but I think the need to restore it formed the script for the Democratic Nstional Convention.

    If it’s not too late history will show that Convention and this upcoming election were the inflection points.

    If it is too late, God help us.

  11. Pete,

    One explanation is the con that’s been on for several decades by Rush and Roger, Grover and Ken, the Koch boys, and their friends. But is that the full explanation?

    Pete you’re way off the mark. You’ve left off at least another 50% of the problem. What do you think has been going on in the majority of the fundamentalist churches the last 45 to 50 years? Love? The answer is massive anti-Semitism, racism, and homophobia and more.

    Where do you think most of the white supremacists received their education of hatred?

  12. Pete,

    Did you have a chance to read Charles Koch of Koch Industries beautiful essay on the America of “golden opportunities” in the July 22nd issue of The Wall Street Journal? After reading the essay, you might consider adding The Wall Street Journal to your “do not buy” list.

  13. My elder daughter and I attended a birthday party of an old friend and retired archivist of the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, last week end. While there we drove over the river to say we were in Kansas, the land of no-tax Brownback, who provided the raw material for the book “What’s the Matter with Kansas.” After a dose of Pence, the next book by Frank should be “What’s the Matter with Indiana?” Gilded Age economics and Victorian Age social conduct were, I thought, history. I was wrong. Both are alive and well in the Hoosier state. I don’t know who is worse as governor, Pence or Brownback, and now to think that Pence could be a heartbeat away from the presidency is terrifying.

  14. Don’t forget to pound home, as well, Pence’s record on privatization of our public school system – The Trump son Eric extols the virtues of privatizing American school systems and it should be spotlighted because Trump himself will never talk about anything other than hitting small men and jailing HIllary … Then there is the Russian connection …

  15. Marv, when, where and how I grew up led to a profound ignorance of racism. That was rudely interrupted when I showed up in Virginia in the 60s for school.

    My childhood did expose me lots to Abrahamic people. Neighbors mostly. Odd I thought but no odder than Catholics, also neighbors.

    Since them I’ve come to enjoy many odd people. In fact some would say that I’ve become one.

    So you are probably right about conspiratory anti-Semitism, I’ve not been exposed to it much.

  16. “Charles and David Koch’s political network is taking action in key states, with the goal of helping the Republican Party keep its majority in the Senate, according to the Washington Post.”

    “The Kochs’ network has spent $12.4 million in this election cycle, and plans another $30 million in ads for Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin races. The network also plans more ads in Florida, the Post reported.”

    “The network’s super PAC, Freedom Partners Action Fund, has focused its latest campaign on Ohio, supporting Sen. Rob Portman in his race against Democratic former governor Ted Strickland. A campaign video calls job losses when Strickland was governor “devastating.” ”

    “James Davis, executive director of the Freedom Partners Action Fund, said the network is “looking to maximize the number of freedom-oriented senators.” ”

    “Strickland’s camp told USA Today that Portman was a “puppet” of the Koch brothers. ”

    “One official at the network told Politico that the Koch network increased its staff by 50 percent in 2015 at its associated groups, which include Americans for Prosperity, the LIBRE Initiative, and Generation Opportunity. ”

    “This spending comes after National Review reported that the brothers are planning to cut down on their involvement in federal elections to “return to their roots” and focus on advocacy and education.”

    From Newsmax

    One of the oldest cons on the books.

    Support me or I’ll put you in poverty.

  17. Pete,

    “Marv……So you are probably right about conspiratory anti-Semitism, I’ve not been exposed to it much.”

    It’s not you, the Jewish establishment has covered up the anti-Semitic epidemic in fear of losing aid to Israel. The problem is immense, especially so, since the hatred against the Jews has mutated into a more virulent hatred against African-Americans. It’s been mostly subsurface but Trump is forcing it to the surface. It will be a significant factor in the months leading up to the presidential election. All of this will have serious consequences, especially for the Democratic Party.

    I’ve mentioned this before on the Blog. The Jewish community was threatened back in the early 80’s by the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention. And the Anti-Defamation League capitulated. That’s the same ADL who is a partner of The Southern Poverty Law Center.

    I keep harping on this so that you might understand the disaster that awaits us all if the Jewish Community isn’t facing up to the anti-Semitism. It will eventually destroy what’s left of our tettering demoracy.

    On July 24th, the day before the start of the Democratic National Convention, the Tea Party Mayor of Jacksonville, Lenny Curry, tweeted the following: “I told you the elites would want to raise your taxes. That is always the EASY answer for them.”

    Especially in Germany, and also in the U.S., elite has been a code word for Jew. Usually in the context of “liberal” or “East Coast.”

    By Trump and the Republican Party playing the anti-Semitic card, the passions of the Republican Right will be escallated even further. And the Democratic Party will, eventually, be faced with a serious rift between African-Amerians and Jews which the Democratic Party leadership will no longer be able to contain.

  18. There’s another word for the world that you describe. Entitlement.

    The people in the US who believe themselves entitled are what used to be the majority here. Male, heterosexual, Protestant Christian, a few generations removed from immigrants and white.

    The realization that they are not entitled has them riled.

    Personally I think that I can compete without a head start.

  19. Pete,

    “Personally I think that I can compete without a head start.”

    I’m sure you can. But most people are not as confident as you. So some of them decide to cheat a little at the start. And then it “mushrooms” and in many cases, it becomes out of their control.

  20. I don’t have anything out of the ordinary but was taught that whatever I wanted was going to have to be earned. What I’ve noticed since then is that’s all it took, what I was willing to earn. What I’ve noticed about other lives is that they were swimming upstream and I, down.

    I buy insurance to spread the risk among all of us for the things that can go wrong in life. Being progressive is just insuring the country. We share the risk and consequences that can and do drag people down so the whole country can enjoy similar success.

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