INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana senator and longtime critic of outsourcing jobs to foreign countries announced Friday that he's selling his stock in his brother's arts and crafts company after The Associated Press reported it manufactures some products in Mexico.
Democrat Joe Donnelly said he hasn't had an active role in the company for 20 years but was taking the action to avoid allowing the issue to become "a distraction from our work to end outsourcing and keep American jobs here instead of shipping them to other countries." His campaign said he made the statement to reporters at an Indiana Black Expo luncheon.
The AP reported Thursday that Donnelly made at least $15,001 in dividends last year on as much as $50,000 of stock in Stewart Superior Corp., which used Mexican workers to produce dye for ink pads.
Donnelly, considered one of the nation's most vulnerable Democratic senators up for re-election next year, was highly critical of Carrier Corp., an air conditioner and furnace maker. He accused it of exploiting $3-an-hour workers when its parent company announced plans last year to cut some 2,000 jobs at two Indiana factories by moving production to Mexico.
The senator praised then President-elect Donald Trump in November for reaching a deal that saved 800 of the jobs at an Indianapolis factory.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee quickly criticized Donnelly in a statement Friday, alleging he is "hypocritically profiting" from the company's actions. It called on him to donate his sale profits to organizations helping the families of displaced workers.
Donnelly has sponsored a bill, titled the End Outsourcing Act, which aims to make it more difficult to transfer jobs to other countries.
"The real issue we need to focus on, days before 300 Carrier workers in Indianapolis face layoffs, is how we can keep manufacturing here in Indiana," he said in the news release, urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, to bring the bill to the floor next week.
Donnelly, the lone Democrat elected statewide in Republican-dominated Indiana, is facing a tough re-election bid in 2018. Two Republicans in the U.S. House, Luke Messer and Todd Rokita, have signaled an interest in running.
For more than a year, Stewart Superior and its subsidiaries have been shipping thousands of pounds of raw materials to Mexico, where the company has a factory that produces ink pads and other supplies, according to customs records from Panjiva Inc., which tracks American imports and exports. The finished products are then transported back to a company facility in California, the records show.
Stewart Superior, which also has an operation in LaPorte, Indiana, says on its website that the company's Mexican factory "brings economical, cost competitive manufacturing and product development to our valued customers."
Donnelly's brother runs the company, but the senator previously served as a corporate officer and its general counsel before he was first elected to Congress in 2006. He won election to the Senate in 2012.