From Hudnut And Lugar To…Pathetic

In a recent post, I explained my long-ago departure from the Republican Party by sketching the GOP’s transition from a political party into a ragtag collection of culture warriors, con men and moral pygmies.

I’m certainly not the only person who’s noticed: David Brooks–a conservative-but-not-insane columnist for the New York Times recently bemoaned the fact that Republicans have abandoned principled policy debate in favor of fighting culture wars. And Yuval Levin of the American Enterprise Institute has wondered whether we may see a “policy realignment without a partisan realignment” because Republicans have found so many “cultural ways” to attract votes.

One of the many problems with Republicans’ metamorphosis from political partisans to culture warriors (a nice word for White Supremicists)  is the quality–or, more accurately, the absence of quality–of the political figures the party elevates.

Here in Indiana, the GOP is no longer  the party of able, principled people like Bill Hudnut and Richard Lugar. Besmirching the legacy of Lugar’s long and honorable Senate service, we have Mike Braun enabling the worst of Trumpism, and Todd Young obediently protecting billionaires from taxation and gun crazies from regulation.

Both have voted  in lockstep with other Trumpian “ditto heads” in the Senate–against the recent COVID relief package, against confirming Merrick Garland as Attorney General… essentially, against anyone or anything a Democratic President wants.

Neither of them can point to anything positive or important that they’ve accomplished. Their sole “platform” is that they have faithfully enabled  the GOP descent into Trumpian bigotry and culture war. 

Dick Lugar is rolling over in his grave.

And then we have Todd Rokita. I have previously posted about his effort to hold a second, well-paid job while purportedly acting as Indiana’s Attorney General–a full-time job. After the media highlighted that particular scam, Rokita quit that particular private-sector job–but it turns out, that wasn’t the only con he was running.

According to the Indiana Star

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is getting paid $25,000 a year for advising a Connecticut-based pharmaceutical company on top of being compensated by at least one other company for similar work, IndyStar has discovered.

On Wednesday, Rokita filed a financial disclosure form with the Indiana inspector general’s office in which he described his ongoing involvement in 2020 with various companies. He acknowledged being paid by these companies, but his office declined to tell IndyStar how much. 

“We have provided all of the information required to be in compliance with the law,” spokesperson Molly Craft told IndyStar over email.

The financial disclosure comes weeks after Rokita faced scrutiny when it was reported that he was still working for the health care benefits firm Apex Benefits despite taking public office.

The paper reported that Rokita is being compensated by business accelerator Acel360, the Indianapolis-based transportation and logistics company Merchandise Warehouse and a pharmaceutical company, Sonnet BioTherapeutics. It was also able to confirm that he is being compensated by another pharmaceutical company called NanoViricides that he began working with in 2020 (in anticipation of his winning his campaign for AG?). 

Democrats have labeled Rokita a “walking conflict of interest,” and pointed out that–as a “well-known opponent of the Affordable Care Act”  he’s in position to place not just his political ideology but the interests of his private-sector benefactors ahead of the duties his office demands.

Thanks to the fact that the Indiana General Assembly is part-time, members are allowed to keep their “day jobs.” (That situation has pluses and minuses–members arguably bring  deepened understanding of many issues to legislative discussions, but the potential for conflicts of interest is greatly enhanced.) That same permissiveness doesn’t apply to statewide elected positions. Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, Superintendent of Public Instruction and Attorney-General are intended to be full-time jobs.

It would seem obvious to principled people that if they can’t “make it” on the state’s salary, they shouldn’t run for the office. Of course, it would also be obvious to principled people that throwing  dishonest red meat to voters terrified of losing cultural hegemony is a dishonorable way to win an election.

But then, these aren’t principled people.


  1. But Wisconsin has Ron Johnson to offer. He has just thrown away all pretenses of decency by claiming he wasn’t scared on 1/6, because the rioters and insurrectionists were uh, real American patriots. Yes. That’s the Cracker Jack code breaker for WHITE. He went on to underscore his racism, bigotry and moronic statement by adding that if the rioters were BLM he’d be terrified.

    Florida presents Senator Rick Scott to the world. Yes, he is another Trump uh, “ring” kisser.

    Your statements today about Republicans lacking ANY moral fiber or ANY intention of governing for the people they allegedly serve are spot on… and have been applicable since the Reagan administration. But now the party has thrown in with a crime boss and his egregious psychopathy.

    And guess what’s going to happen. Eighty million white people will keep voting for these wretches from border to border and coast to coast. Why? Because they’ve been brought up by the Republican chatechism (sic) of “conservative” politics, lies, white supremacy and not giving free stuff to “those people”.

    The Civil War continues. No end in sight.

  2. So Ron Johnson said the quiet part out loud. Many will follow because they won’t see any down-side to doing so. Meanwhile Dems are howling for Cuomo’s skin, rather than wait for the investigation. On one side there is far too much tolerance and on the other, far too little.

  3. Why would we ‘whitewash’ what white supremacy is by referring to them using a ‘nice word’ – culture warriors? Call it what it is.

  4. My grandmother, Margaret Barnes, was Democrat Precinct Committee Chair, in Mayor/Senator Lugar’s Precinct. She was also, the full time baby sitter for the 4 Lugar Boys. The Lugars loved my grandmother and she loved them. My grandmother would wag her aging liberal finger and go toe to toe with her boss when she thought he was wrong. It was always a respectful, somewhat heated, conversation. I miss the respectful dialogue.

  5. Peggy, you are spot on with the Cuomo analogy. We threw Al Franken under the bus instead of the pussy-grabbing president who cheated on his wife three times (once while she was pregnant).

    We’ll find out just how corrupt the NSA/FBI/JD are since they continue pulling data from cell phones between OathKeepers and other white supremacy groups. This was an inside job between our Pentagon, Trump administration, republican officials, the FBI, and right-wing billionaires funded via the Koch ATM – Donors Trust, so all contributors can remain anonymous.

    Now, while the Democratic Party goes after Cuomo en masse, I wonder why their energy isn’t being spent going after the insurrectionists who supposedly put their lives in danger.

    We have legitimate journalists pointing all this out, but none working at the New York Times or WaPo who supposedly have access to inside sources.

    This country and its democratic institutions are a fraud comprised of actors. The shiny veneer is peeling back for all to see if you choose to open your eyes.

    It’s an “ongoing investigation,” so FOIA requests cannot be served at this time. However,

  6. As I recall, Indiana prohibits full-time state employees from holding second jobs. Not unrelated, ghost employment is also illegal. At every press conference, Rokita needs to be asked for whom is he working, Hoosiers or his corporate clients. He should be asked every time, at every opportunity, until he resigns or, if voters regain their sanity, is voted out.

    Meanwhile, I propose creation of an award: the Mr or Ms Conflict of Interest Award. It should be given to the Indiana politicians who goes above and beyond the call in embarrassing the state with particular acts of corruption. We can make it an occasional thing rather than just annual, and in addition to the media attention, the winner gets a little trophy and a fancy certificate citing the particular conflict or conflicts that serve as the basis for the nomination.

    I’ll get to work on the details.

  7. The one thing that Braun has done that I appreciate is his bi-partisan Climate Caucus, and he and Young have both signed the Trillion Trees movement, but as far as I can see both are noting more than empty talk. And, the fact that Braun is a tree farmer, I am afraid that this is more than disingenuous, but a scam to make it easier for him to clear-cut what remains of our old-growth forest here and in places where there are true old-growth forests.

  8. Patrick,

    I was a state employee for 8 years, working in several different jobs. I don’t think there is any prohibition on state employees having second jobs. While state employee pay has improved considerably from when I worked there, many used to work a second job out of necessity. As long as you didn’t work a second job while employed on your state job, you wouldn’t run afoul of the ghost employment laws. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t believe the ghost employment law applies to elected officials like Secretary of State. That doesn’t make what Rokita is doing right though. It’s not.

  9. The first order received from Goldsmith, within days of his inauguration as Mayor of Indianapolis, was to DESTROY all files and paperwork from Mayor Hudnut’s 16 years of administration. Huge trash bins (smaller version of those you see outside houses being gutted to renovate) were wheeled into all offices to accomplish this. In the Department of Metropolitan Development’s Director’s Office, we had two of them which were emptied and returned.

    Having been elected Mayor in November and knowing he would be inaugurated on January 1st; Goldsmith still hadn’t decided on his Mayor’s Office letterhead, for approximately THREE WEEKS no official letters or written documents to departments/divisions could be sent out or distributed in-house from his office. He refused to allow any written communication till he had decided on letterhead with his name.

    Prior to his campaign for Mayor; he was still receiving threats on his life from his time as Prosecutor. He submitted a request to the Division of Planning and Zoning to change the numbers on his house to protect his life and the lives of his family. Those of us who heard the rumor thought it was a joke; until my boss who was the legal representative for DMD handed me the letter and the forms to process the changes, which I hand-delivered to Planning and Zoning. Consider the plat maps, lot listings, property tax and other official records which required changes due to his ridiculous requirement. The letterhead and this issue evidence an intelligence level comparative to Donald Trump.

    I asked a person of high level authority, and who had worked hand-in-hand with Mayor Hudnut, why Goldsmith had been selected to run for the Mayoral position. She stated it was payback by the Indiana Republican party for favors he had done for them when he was Prosecutor. That is frightening when you compare the Goldsmith administration with the Trump administration, the highest power on earth; you have to ask what President Biden and Vice President Harris and our new AG Merrick Garland have found in the remnants of our federal government. It goes far beyond pathetic.

  10. Let’s say that you are an entertainer and would like to be a wealthy entertainer but are pretty mediocre at your only obvious talent. Consider a career in cultural entertainment. Build a cultural brand by being unthinkingly consistent at the pretense that the culture that you chose was always right and every other culture is consistently wrong. Divide the world into humans of your brand and stupid people and blame the stupid people for taking away the right of your brand to power.

    Preacher? Politician? Performer? Pundit? The channels for your mediocre skills are many and many of them can be made lucrative especially if you have good hair.

    This is what has been created on our watch folks.

  11. We have come a long way from the days of the Madison-Jefferson-Hamilton triad who held that public service was noble to the Marjorie Greene-Trump-Johnson admixture of insanity and greed that characterizes the Republican Party these days, a party that now eschews policy arguments in favor of insult, delusion and claims that its opposition is composed of baby-killing socialists intent on the destruction of America and hence the compelling need to go to the capitol and reverse the stolen election to “save America” which, not surprisingly, is the name of Trump’s new PAC which is plainly designed to re-route donors’ funds from the party to Trump’s control. Greed and lust for power have supplanted policy stands and compromises of olden days; now we discuss Cancun trips and comparative numbers of sexual encounters, hardly the language of that party’s Lincoln or even the staid Hoover in their turns at the bat.

    So what to do? Talk real issues. Do the politics of compromise when possible and use our “by the people-approved majority” when not. Actually and honestly do what the fruitcakes pretend they are doing, i. e., save America. Persevere. That is the noble response called for in this war of words and one I think our forefathers would approve – so let’s get on with it.

  12. If the Republican party ever wants to stop being racist then they will have to get out of their white culture bubble and have uncomfortable conversations with people of color and other minorities.

    If Christians ever want to stop being bigoted, we must get out of our comfortable Christian bubble and talk to people of other faith traditions and yes, even atheists. White Christians will have to talk to people of color.

    Social media silos are intensifying the racial divide and the political rift . These silos undermine bipartisanship.

    Rokita, Young, and Braun are good examples of what has gone wrong with the Republican party.

    If Indiana is ever going to stop being a red state, we will have to move toward getting people of color, people in disenfranchised minorities to register to vote and then ensure they can vote even if Republicans put up obstacles to “maintain the integrity of the voting system.”

  13. if the present state of second employment is illegal, and town halls were the morm to call em out, seems like here in NoDak,they just quit having town halls.. i do not know if Ind. has a law requiring the elected to,provide a public forum on a reasonable notice to the public also. that cheat on time is a major issue if its only programed i a social media exchange of some other,not public notice. i use to get my notice via NPR,but nodaks mindset is,who cares. npr here is a bang up job of right wing support and disinformation/or lack of, in a local level. the full right wing fed/state reps dont care much about opinions of your needs,over the states to give full monte to any corp willing to spend a dime here. sen hoven is a third gen banker,and big supporter of unmaned aircraft,seems hoven enjoys allowing the development of such,in regards to development,intrude upon our privacy here with no regards to our standing of privacy..the fact the elected now just ignores the people,via spin,BS,and since trump, indignation of the whole theory of democracy. the signatures have dried on the paper…do something to change it..

  14. The GOP today has no other policies except lower taxes for the 1%, corporate America and fanatically defend the fossil fuel industry. The GOP and their talking heads try to spin these policies to appeal to the GOP Base.

    Lowering taxes for the 1% and corporate America is not going to attract potential voters in big numbers. So the only other way the GOP can appeal to voters is their various social-cultural wars to gather in the bible thumper’s and the gun toting Rambo Wannabes.

    When people start receiving their checks from the Covid Bill, the Democrats need to remind the voters big time that the GOP in lock-step voted against it.

    A year ago The Trumpet was out trying to play down Covid-19, by stating it was under control and would just go away, to reinforce that he went out golfing, The Trumpet’s message was- “Don’t Worry be Happy”.

    The Trumpet and the GOP operated under the presumption that like themselves, the American people are only out for themselves – self-centered – and are not willing to sacrifice for the greater good. Thus, the need to make social distancing and wearing masks a Social-Cultural issue.

  15. Paul K.- thanks for the clarification. Good to know he’d still qualify for the award.

  16. Patrick, I am in total favor of your proposed award. It is reminiscent of the Darin Award, to my thinking.
    Robin, one of the things the Christians may need to do to get out of their particular bubble, would be to recognize that their “knowing” that their religious “truth,” is equivalent to the religious”truth” of other religions.
    My one time Unitarian Universalist minister told of an ecumenical gathering he once attended, after which he commented to a priest that he was glad to see that they were, more or less, all on the same side. Mr. Priest responded with a very snide “No, we are not!”
    I’m in Florida, where I see many sign, and bumper stickers proclaiming that “Jesus is the answer.” One of these signs takes up most the whole of the side of a nearby building. I think that the question preceding this must be “Who is your favorite fairy tale character?” If they have the nerve to tell me how the world works, I have the right to disagree.

  17. Peggy – truer words were never written

    Paul – thanks for pointing out that there is a difference between sleaze and illegal – it is sad, but it is a fact, reinforcing Sheila’s discussion about the change in the Republican Party as amplified by Gerald’s comment.

  18. Sheila,

    Your comments re’ subject Indiana politicians are consistent with my observations ….with earlier Indiana politicians….I grew up in Indiana…born in 1938… living within a family of origin I grew to wish to live elsewhere. I finished engineering college at G.M.I. Flint, Mi…working at Allison Indianapolis….in 1962. By 1965 I moved elsewhere….ANYWHERE but Indiana. Currently I’ve lived in Oregon since 2005…and will die here. Certainly as you say….Indiana government …much as other midwestern states….is in my opinion…out of date…perhaps as much as 50 years or more. As our US industries wither…I suspect the agricultural faction of midwest governments will increase in power_influence….and I doubt this is good. The 50’s comedienne Totie Fields used to joke to people arriving in Indiana…to turn their watches 30 years….

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