Speaker Sends Turner Issue To Ethics Committee

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March 22, 2014 — TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS – The fate of a potential investigation into Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, and his handling of nursing home legislation is now in the hands of the House Ethics Committee.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, sent the issue to the committee after Democratic Party Chairman John Zody asked the leader to look into accusations that Turner allegedly lobbied for a proposal that could have helped his children’s nursing home construction business.

Indiana placed a moratorium on nursing home construction in 2009 in part to curb private-paying residents from switching to newer facilities. Proponents of that law say without it, older facilities would have a harder time affording the care for Medicaid patients who would be left.

Hoosier lawmakers were considering legislation that would have extended the moratorium but it died on the session’s last day. A report by the Associated Press says that happened after Turner lobbied in a private caucus against it. That’s when the Democrats requested an investigation.

In a letter to the House Ethics Committee and its chairman, Rep. Greg Steuerwald, the speaker asked the group to determine whether Turner violated the House rules or the ethics code.

“If you find a violation, please recommend any actions you feel should be taken,” Bosma said.

He also asked the committee to consider whether the legislature’s ethics code or statement of economic interest should be changed “to give further transparency and openness to the legislative process.”

Zody released a statement Thursday praising Bosma’s decision.

“I am pleased Speaker Bosma heeded our call for an inquiry into Rep. Turner’s actions,” Zody said. “With the speaker’s inquiry, it is becoming increasingly clear the Statehouse Republicans’ brand of public service is wearing out its welcome in the Hoosier State. We can and must do better in Indiana.”

Despite the complaint being transferred to the House Ethics Committee, there is still no guarantee that it will be heard. Steuerwald, R-Avon, said that he wants to see if the members of his committee believe Turner’s actions warrant an investigation.

“What’s interesting is that the letter concerns conduct inside of caucus. It’s well known that (discussions within caucus) are private and confidential,” Steuerwald said. “I will contact the committee members and see how they view comments inside of caucus. I will go with the will of the committee.”

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