Indiana Could Elect a Clinton to the US Senate

Evan Bayh is a walking ethics disaster of Clintonian proportions.

The former U.S. senator and governor has been the Democratic Party’s best hope to capture the open Senate seat in Indiana this year. After muscling out a former Democratic congressman who the party primary, Bayh immediately rocketed ahead of his Republican opponent, GOP Congressman Todd Young, in the polls.

According to FiveThirtyEight, and as outlined elsewhere on The Resurgent, Indiana is still a likely Democratic pick-up on election night even as polls show the race tightening, and Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton at the top of the ballot. A late breaking poll released Friday morning and sponsored by local television station WTHR showed Young beating Bayh, 46% to 41%, with 7% of voters undecided and the remaining claiming they will vote for the Libertarian Party candidate.

A series of ethics problems in Bayh’s background have come to light or resurfaced over the course of the campaign, bedeviling his ability to portray himself as the candid, honest and moderate Democrat Indiana voters elected in the past. A long-time ally of the Clintons, Bayh even endorsed Hillary Clinton in Indiana’s hotly contested 2008 Democratic presidential primary, his association with scandal-ridden political figures seems to be evolving into his own biography.

On Thursday, POLITICO broke the news that Bayh used taxpayer money to stay at hotels mere miles from his Indiana condo when he visited the state in 2009. Bayh represented Indiana in the U.S. Senate until January 2011.

“Former Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh used taxpayer money to stay at hotels in Indianapolis for 14 nights in 2009 despite owning a condominium there, charging more than $2,000 in travel and lodging expenses to his official account, according to his internal schedule and Senate disbursement records.”

Senate rules, POLITICO pointed out, prohibit lawmakers from using taxpayer money for lodging expenses when they are within 35 miles of their “duty station,” defined as their in-state residence during Congressional recess or adjournment and their Washington residence during Senate sessions.

Despite claiming residence at an Indianapolis condo, Bayh never stayed there in 2009, according to POLITICO, and according to an AP investigation he also never stayed there in 2010.

When spending taxpayer money on hotels in his “home” state, Bayh’s preference was for a “quiet room away from the elevators and ice machine” according to an official schedule quoted by POLITICO. Additionally, Bayh liked his room to have extra pillows.

In October, NPR spoke with people who live near Bayh’s condo and found that his neighbors never see him around. Bayh himself even forgot where he lives, “Bayh misstated the address of his Indianapolis condo on local TV news about a month into his contest,” NPR reported.

Another investigation into Bayh’s background found him spending the better part of his final year in office using his Senate connections to find a lucrative private sector job for his post-Senate career. While accepting undisclosed financial favors from one special interest, Bayh also cast votes that directly related to the interests of some of the potential employers he spoke with during that year. Bayh even used taxpayer money to fund some of his job-hunting/networking excursions during his final months in office.

If Bayh wins his race on Tuesday, Indiana voters will be represented in the U.S. Senate by someone whose ethics are eerily similar to those of Hillary Clinton.

Embattled Democrat Bayh Struggles in Ind. Senate Race

It was supposed to be a fairly easy comeback attempt. Evan Bayh, the darling of Indiana Democrats, decided he wanted to return to the U.S. Senate this year after refusing to run for re-election in 2010. Worried that his re-election chances were in doubt, Bayh backed out of facing Indiana voters six years ago. The move resulted in former Sen. Dan Coats capturing the seat for Republicans. But in an odd decision, Bayh skipped the Indiana senate primary this year, opting instead to muscle out former Congressman Barron Hill, who had spent months building a ground game in preparation for facing off against the eventual GOP nominee.

But while Democratic Party leaders in Indiana aided Bayh’s successful effort to push Hill out of the race, whether or not that was a good pragmatic decision remains to be seen. As polls show Congressman Todd Young, the Republican nominee, closing to within a single percentage point of Bayh, a series of negative stories have rocked the comeback effort.

On Tuesday, the Indianapolis Star pointed out that Bayh’s campaign was not honest about his use of taxpayer-funded travel to set up interviews that netted him a cushy job once he left the Senate. Amazingly, the paper laid out the direct contradictions between newly learned facts and Bayh’s previous explanation of them, but stopped short of explicitly stating the obvious: Bayh’s campaign lied and covered up the truth to protect the former senator.

According to the paper:

“Bayh landed a lucrative job with private equity giant Apollo Global Management shortly after leaving office in January 2011. He had in the months prior worked against a tax increase on carried interest and a provision of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform act that would have hurt the bottom lines of companies like Apollo.

“The timing of the new job prompted IndyStar to ask Bayh’s campaign about a half dozen taxpayer-funded trips Bayh took to New York City during the last half of 2010. The flurry of travel was unusual for Bayh — he hadn’t used taxpayer money to travel to New York City since 2002.

“In response to IndyStar’s inquiries, the campaign said in early September that Bayh didn’t meet with anyone from Apollo during those trips.

“Turns out, that wasn’t the case.”

Bayh sat on the Senate Banking Committee.

The conflict of interest between some of the votes he cast in the Senate during his final year in office and his subsequent private sector employment was first reported by the Associated Press late last week. Comparing a copy of Bayh’s schedule from his final year in office to various votes he cast and numerous boards and employment opportunities that came his way once he left office, the AP was able to find Bayh staying at the home of a wealthy future employer in the banking industry and meeting with board members of entities that would go on to add him to their board of directors once he left office.

Apollo Global Management has paid Bayh $2,038,152.05 since 2015 according to recently filed ethics disclosure reports reviewed by Politico. The publication also found that Bayh made around $1.76 million by serving on various boards, including the board of Marathon Petroleum Corporation, with whom he was in talks during his final year in office. Votes Bayh cast in that final year also benefited Marathon’s interests.

During the 2009 debate over ObamaCare, which Bayh ultimately voted in favor of, liberals were upset that Bayh was less than supportive of a so-called public option. They blamed the timidity on Bayh’s wife, who has sat on various boards in the health industry including the board of a prominent insurance company.

The NRSC has blasted Bayh for his various conflicts of interest, noting that he has frequently looked out for his own interests in prominent ways.

Conflicts of interest aren’t the only problems that have bedeviled Bayh this cycle. While serving as Indiana’s secretary of state, Bayh approved of the Klu Klux Klan’s incorporation as a non-profit group in the Hoosier state in 1987. “By incorporating and getting the paperwork to where Mr. Bayh has signed it, this designates that we are a legal organization,” a KKK spokesman told an Indiana newspaper the following year.

Shortly after announcing he was going to run for Senate again, it become public that Bayh’s Indiana voter registration had twice lapsed to an “inactive” status because Bayh hadn’t verified that he still lived at an Indianapolis address. A registration moving to “inactive” is the first step in it getting removed from the voter roles.

An achilles heel for Bayh is his long association with Hillary Clinton, who is behind in polls in Indiana and not terribly popular with voters there. Back in 2007 amid the brutal slugfest between Clinton and Obama, Bayh endorsed Clinton and then went on to campaign with her in Indiana during the hard-fought primary. It was even speculated that Bayh would be Clinton’s VP pick. But with Clinton’s poll numbers so low in the state, tying Bayh to Clinton in the final month of the election could prove to be a good strategy for GOP Senate candidate Todd Young.

Political Chaos in Indiana Ahead of Trump Visit

Indiana is where Sen. Ted Cruz made his last stand against New York liberal Donald Trump, who is currently posing as a populist presidential candidate poised to formally seal his nomination as the Republican presidential candidate. Indiana gave Trump a key victory in May during its primary, leading Cruz to suspend his campaign after a streak of losses that accumulated since his Wisconsin primary win in April.

Today, the rather stayed order of Indiana GOP politics is being completely upended.

Donald Trump heads to the Hoosier state today for a fundraiser followed by a rally that will be held just north of Indianapolis.

For a couple of days now rumors have been swirling that Gov. Mike Pence (R), who is running for his second term as governor, will be Trump’s vice presidential pick. The Washington Times ran a story Sunday night based on what appears to be a single source pegging Pence’s chances of being the GOP veep nominee at 95%. The Hill repeated the Times report and other outlets have continued to publish speculation into this morning.

Erickson wrote on Monday that a corporate jet based in Pence’s hometown of Columbus, Indiana flew from Indiana to New Hampshire and on to New York before returning to Columbus by way of Indianapolis. The New York stop was near a Trump-owned property. The plane is owned by diesel engine giant Cummins, Inc. which vigorously fought against a religious freedom law that was debated, passed and then partially repealed in Indiana. Whether or not Pence was on board is speculation, but Indiana ethics rules do not forbid candidates or elected officials from using corporate jets for travel.

Sources tell me that inside Indiana the speculation that Pence is the vice presidential pick have reached fever pitch. Pence’s departure from the gubernatorial race would set off a scramble to replace him at the top of the state Republican ticket, and at least two incumbent members of Congress, the current lieutenant governor candidate, and the incumbent Speaker of the Indiana House are jockeying for support.

If Pence is the vice presidential nominee, he would be the first VP pick from Indiana since Dan Quayle, who was President George H.W. Bush’s vice president. Indiana has sent 5 of its citizens to the vice presidency, and only New York, with 11 native vice presidents, exceeds that number.

Democrats in the state are not without their own drama, however. In a sudden and surprise move, former Congressman Baron Hill, the Democratic nominee for Indiana’s open U.S. Senate seat, announced on Monday that he was stepping down from the race. He is to be replaced as the Democratic Senate candidate by former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, a pro-Clinton Democrat who fancies himself to be a moderate.

In a statement released Monday, Hill, who sailed through the primary without an opponent and who is now in the middle of waging a general election effort against GOP Senate nominee and Marine veteran Rep. Todd Young, blamed a lackluster response to his campaign message for his decision.

“While our campaign had been making great progress and building momentum all over Indiana, it is simply not enough to fight back against the slew of out-of-state, special interest and dark money that is certain to come our way between now and November.

“Democrats have a very real chance at winning this Senate seat, especially with a strong nominee who has the money, name identification and resources to win. I do not want to stand in the way of Democrats winning Indiana and the U.S. Senate. That would not be fair to my party or my state. And, the stakes are far too high in this election not to put my country above my own political ambitions.”

Bayh, who was a two-term Democratic governor before representing Indiana in the U.S. Senate from 1999 to 2011, appears to believe he can swoop into the Hoosier State and foist his own political ambitions on his party and voters without having to spend time earning votes in a primary. In 2008, Bayh, who early on explored running for president himself, endorsed Hillary Clinton in her race against Barack Obama.

The ambitious and arrogant ex-Senator currently resides in Georgetown – well inside the Beltway and well outside of Indiana – and works in at a K Street firm. According to a Washington Business Journal report:

“The former Democratic senator from Indiana, now a partner at the K Street office of McGuireWoods, said he would have been just as happy staying in Spring Valley. But with their two kids off to college, the big six-bedroom, Georgia-style brick home was more than the couple needed.”

At least he was concerned with downsizing even while refusing to return to Indiana until he found it opportune to elbow aside his own party’s nominee.