Turner Opponent Calls Him ‘Corrupt,’ Calls For Sanctions

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May 5, 2014 — TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS – The Democrat running against Rep. Eric Turner of Cicero said Friday the Republican is “morally corrupt” and should be sanctioned for working behind closed doors to kill a bill that could have cost him and his family millions of dollars.

Bob Ashley, who is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination in House District 32, acknowledged that Turner didn’t break any existing House rules or the chamber’s ethics code when he lobbied against extending a moratorium that would have prevented the construction of new nursing homes. Turner and his family are in the nursing home business.

The House Ethics Committee decided this week that Turner didn’t violate any rules but that he failed to act with “the highest spirit of transparency.” The committee plans to review whether the House rules should be changed to require more disclosure.

Still, Ashley said House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, has the authority to punish Turner in some way – such as removing his title as speaker pro tem. That’s appropriate, Ashley said, because Turner’s actions as a legislator resulted in “money in his pocket.”

“That’s the reason he should be sanctioned – whether he violated any official rules or not,” Ashley said. “Morally he is corrupt.”

Turner is facing a challenge in the Republican primary but his GOP opponent – Parvin Gillim – has so far declined to make questions about Turner’s ethics an issue in the race.

Ashley said he thinks the ethics questions are key issues for voters.

“If nothing else, Hoosiers should be alarmed to at the way legislation passed by both the House and Senate can be made to disappear at private Republican caucus meetings that are designed to shield their action from public view,” Ashley said.

Turner issued a statement through a spokesman Friday saying that a “bipartisan legislative committee reviewed the allegations and cleared my record of service.”

“For 24 years, it has been a honor to serve the residents of House District 32 and I look forward to continuing to represent constituents and communities throughout my district in the next session of the General Assembly,” he said.

In a statement earlier in the week, Turner also said he “acted clearly within the House rules and the House Code of Ethics while offering my expertise on a particular issue.”

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.

During the 2014 legislative session, which ended in March, Hoosier lawmakers were considering a bill that would have extended the moratorium. However, the legislation died on the session’s last day after Turner lobbied in a private caucus against it. Turner abstained from public votes on the legislation.

[Photo: Democrat Bob Ashley said Friday that Republican Rep. Eric Turner of Cicero should be sanctioned, even though he didn’t break House rules when he lobbied privately against a bill that would have cost him money. Photo, TheStatehouseFile.com]

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