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Blog: Logic according to the State Ethics Commission

On Wednesday, the Indiana Ethics Commission fined former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett $5,000 for ethics violations.

But in the process, the panel also ruled that statewide elected officials are free to use state property for their own campaign purposes - as long as they give themselves permission in advance.

The logic of that ruling brings to mind reasoning invoked by former President Richard Nixon.

July 10, 2014 1:45 pm Video

BLOG: Coats complimented for crying

It's not often that a senator is congratulated for being reduced to tears, but it happened Wednesday to U.S. Sen. Dan Coats.

"Mr. Chairman, I just want to note for the record that Sen. Coats just found out in the hallway he had his 10th grandchild," Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, said during a hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

"And I heard he cried," Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, said. "A guy who cries over his grandchild is very cool."

I'ts another form of cartel," an off-camera person added.

Click here to watch the video.

July 09, 2014 4:30 pm

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June 26, 2014 9:55 am

Blog: Twitter reacts to historic day in Indiana

A federal judge's ruling, striking down Indiana's ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional unleashed a flood of reaction over Twitter.

The Marion County clerk wasted no time.

June 25, 2014 5:30 pm
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Blog: The alleged voter fraud Indiana's ID law failed to catch

From Wisconsin, we find the strange tale of Robert D. Monroe, who investigators say was able to illegally vote in Indiana, despite the state's voter ID law that was supposed to stop such fraud.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports:

According to the complaint:

Monroe cast two ballots in the April 2011 Supreme Court election, two in the August 2011 Alberta Darling recall election, five in the Scott Walker-Tom Barrett recall, one illegal ballot in an August 2012 primary, and two ballots in the November 2012 presidential election.

In the presidential election, Monroe cast an in-person absentee ballot in Shorewood on Nov. 1 and drove a rental car to Lebanon, Ind., where he showed his Indiana driver's license to vote in person on election day, Nov. 6, the complaint charges. Monroe owns a house there, according to the complaint.

So there's the hole in the voter ID law, which seems to not catch voters with homes (and driver licenses) in multiple states. Then again, critics of the law say it has less to do with preventing voter fraud and more to do with making it more difficult for certain citizens to vote.

You might recall that the actual Indiana voter fraud that proponents say justified the Voter ID law involved absentee ballot fraud in the Robert Pastrick-George Pabey East Chicago mayoral election. The fact that voter ID does nothing to prevent such absentee ballot fraud once again becomes evident.

June 24, 2014 12:00 pm
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June 24, 2014 9:07 am

Blog: Coats on IRS scandal: 'Trust is broken'

U.S. Sen. Dan Coats said on the Senate floor Monday that even though he's not a big fan of special prosecutors, the lost emails in the IRS scandal merit a special prosecutor with subpoena power "to get to the bottom of this mess."

“When a so-called independent agency of the federal government attacks average American citizens for expressing their beliefs, a fundamental trust is broken,” said Coats. “This trust must be restored. We owe it to the American taxpayers to reveal the full truth of what happened at the IRS and to repair the damage of this agency’s reckless actions.”

A little more than a year ago, former director Lois Lerner disclosed that IRS agents had improperly scrutinized applications by tea party and other conservative groups from 2010 to 2012.

The Justice Department and three congressional committees, including Ways and Means, are investigating the IRS.

Recently, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen claimed that the hard drive belonging to Lerner crashed in 2011 and tens of thousands of emails dating back to 2009 were lost.

June 23, 2014 5:30 pm Video
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June 20, 2014 9:48 am

Blog: Visclosky manages 2014 Defense Appropriations Act

Here's video of U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., delivering his opening statement Wednesday as he managed the $486.6 billion 2014 Defense Appropriations Act.

Some highlights:

OVERSEAS CONTINGENCY OPERATIONS: The bill provides $79.4 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, which is equal to the President’s budget request and $5.7 billion less than the 2014 enacted level.

MILITARY PERSONNEL: The bill provides $128.1 billion for Military Personnel, which is $830 million less than the President’s budget request and $668 million less than the 2014 enacted level.

June 18, 2014 5:29 pm
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Blog: Coats questions Hagel, Dempsey on Iraq crisis

On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., questioned his former Republican Senate colleague Chuck Hagel, now Defense Secretary for President Obama. Coats asked Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey on the deteriorating situation in Iraq and why the administration hasn't come forward with a response to the actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

“The territory has already been lost, the weapons have already been seized, the banks have been robbed, oil may be or may not be in control of the extremist groups, which is a great source of monetary resource, isn’t it too late now?” said Coats. “I think it would be good if the President could talk to Congress and talk to the American people and let us know where we are.”

June 18, 2014 3:33 pm Video

Blog: McDermott hits back on Festival of the Lakes


The next chapter in the ongoing battle over Hammond's Festival of the Lakes took place on Facebook, where Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. took aim at Councilman Homero "Chico" Hinojosa, who has questioned the lack of transparency regarding festival finances. McDermott took the opportunity Tuesday to post a photo of Hinojosa "enjoying his VIP access" at the festival. This swipe is far from the final word in the controversy. We expect to be seeing a financial report on the festival issued soon.

June 17, 2014 11:29 pm

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June 17, 2014 10:00 am

BLOG: Where fossil fuels are rock stars

Fossil fuels are the rock stars of Alaska, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming, at least as far as their governors are concerned.

The governors of those nine states sent a letter today to President Barack Obama asking for relief from EPA rules on greenhouse gas emissions.

The governors' letter says they lead "states that both produce and consume energy," something that applies to many other states as well. So what else do these nine states have in common? Republican governors.

That comes through in the wording of the letter: "Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that your administration is content to force Americans to bear those substantial costs where there are highly questionable associated environmental benefits."

No acknowledgement of climate change. No whiff of air pollution boosting lung ailments. No admission that these fossil fuels, while keeping costs low, dilute water quality.

June 16, 2014 3:30 pm Related
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June 13, 2014 9:47 am

Bayh still hoarding his millions

Over at Howey Politics Indiana, Schererville native Pete Seat opines on the diminishing Hoosier profile of the once-imposing Evan Bayh, who continues to hang on to a sizable campaign war chest.

According to reports, delegates were more interested in glad-handing with Gregg and flirting with Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott, another aspiring candidate for governor, than engaging in what had been one of the most intriguing political parlor games: Whether or not Bayh, the former governor and former U.S. Senator, would mount another campaign for his old job.

He certainly has the cash to give it another go. Campaign filings show a whopping $9.84 million resting comfortably in the Bayh for Senate federal campaign account which, as law allows, could be transferred in a one-time payment to a state-based campaign for governor.

The Center for Public Integrity recently called on Bayh to divest himself of that money and donate it to charity. He refused saying, “Because the future is difficult to predict, I don’t want to foreclose any possibilities at this time.”

Of course, $9.84 million can keep a lot of futures open to Bayh, but the tea leaves show those futures have little to do with Indiana.

June 11, 2014 3:35 pm

Sounding off on Bergdahl criticism

Sounding off on Bergdahl criticism

In this file image taken from video obtained from Voice Of Jihad Website, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, sits in a vehicle guarded by the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan. Bergdahl was freed by the Taliban on May 31, 2014, in exchange for five Afghan detainees held in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 

From our sister paper in Twin Falls, Idaho, this editorial provides a local perspective on the controversy stirred up over the deal to secure the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from the Taliban.

All these things we’re hearing about Bowe Bergdahl, all the hate, all the self-serving loathing, has nothing to do with him. He’s simply a dispensable weapon, a grenade to be tossed at the White House.

Supporting the troops is a nice mantra in Washington. But this past week has proved it’s all bunk.

June 10, 2014 12:43 pm
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Robert Blaszkiewicz

Robert Blaszkiewicz

Robert Blaszkiewicz is a Northwest Indiana native and joined The Times in 1994. He has filled a variety of roles, including night editor, Porter County editor, features editor and new media coordinator. His current position is assistant managing editor for operations.

Doug Ross

Doug Ross

Doug Ross has been covering Northwest Indiana for 30 years, including two decades at The Times of Northwest Indiana.



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