Rep. Eric Turner will avoid discipline

April 23rd, 2014 at 4:37 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Members of the House Ethics Committee indicated Wednesday that state Representative Eric Turner will not be disciplined for a private lobbying effort that could benefit his family business.

The bottom line is that Eric Turner, apparently, broke no rules. but his behavior may yet lead to the adoption of new ones.

When the Ethics Committee met to consider actions by Turner he was’t there.  His attorney, Toby McClamroch, sat in the front row but never spoke.

Turner, a Cicero Republican, did send written responses to committee questions and Chairman Greg Steuerwald read some of them aloud including one where Turner said, “I violated neither House rules, nor the code of ethics.”

It’s all about legislation that could benefit the Mainstreet Property Group, a nursing home company that builds upscale facilities.  It’s owned by Rep. Turner’s son and Turner is an investor.

During a private GOP caucus Turner argued against a nursing home moratorium that would hurt the company.  He admitted to doing so in a written response.

“I offered my particular expertise on the nursing home industry and the nursing home moratorium,” he said in answer read aloud by Steuerwald.

The committee found that there are no rules that apply to private caucuses.

“What went on in caucus, stays in caucus,” said Rep. Clyde Kersey (D-Terre Haute.)  “As far as everything else, he followed the rules.”

“The facts that were stated in there are certainly consistent with the code of ethics that they adopted just four months ago,” said McClamroch following the hearing.  “So, we’re pleased with the direction.”

A government watchdog says it’s not fair to the public.  “If you can act one way in public and behave totally differently privately,” said Julia Vaughn of Common Cause, “that really raises concerns and I think it makes the public part of the process a charade.”

The committee will meet next week to rule on Turner’s behavior but it will just be a formality.

The committee will also meet later in the year to consider changes in the House rules that could include new reporting requirements.

That’s because Turner reported ownership in a parent coporation but didn’t report ownership in the nursing home company, unless it was inside the private caucus.

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