Political Notebook

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Governor shares good reads

Gov. Mitch Daniels last week pitched his last annual Christmas book list, full of titles that are nowhere near light reading.

He noted he had a lot of extra time to read after withdrawing from political activity because of his upcoming job as president of Purdue University.

Here is the 2012 list, with the governor’s brief commentary :

•“Coming Apart,” by Charles Murray – Has the facts, insight and heart to examine the national condition.

•“Eisenhower in War and Peace,” by Jean Edward Smith – A new favorite on an American hero.

•“Homage to Catalonia,” by George Orwell – A young Orwell starts the journey to 1984.

•“The Dark Valley,” by Piers Brendon – So packed with detail and insight you will feel like you lived in the 1930s.

•“On China,” by Henry Kissinger – The most important country to our future.

•“The Making of the Masters,” by David Owen – An authoritative and objective unveiling of Augusta National Golf Club and its intriguing history.

•“Destiny of the Republic,” by Candice Millard – Embarrassed that he didn’t know more about James Garfield’s fascinating history.

•“The Icarus Syndrome,” by Peter Beinart – The author challenges foreign policy assumptions of past eras and leaders.

•“The Great Game,” by Peter Hopkirk – It was Britain versus Russia in Central Asia with India as the prize.

•“Energy for Future Presidents,” by Richard Muller – a primer on the energy issues of the day by a friend and Berkeley physicist.

Daniels also added “Game Six” by Mark Frost and “Nearing Home” by Billy Graham since he felt the list lacked sports and faith.

GOP for Donnelly?

According to a campaign finance report, the Indiana Republican State Committee spent a small amount of money to boost Democratic U.S. Sen.-elect Joe Donnelly.

The committee filed an October report with the Federal Election Commission stating it paid $26.55 to GoDaddy.com for a “Website Against Joe Donnelly.” But in the section where the committee must designate whether it supports or opposes the candidate in question, an X has been placed in the “support” box.

Pete Seat, communications director for the state Republican Party, said in an email the expenditure went for the creation of the website WrongTrackJoe.com, which “is clearly not favorable” to Rep. Donnelly, D-2nd.

Donnelly defeated Republican state Treasurer Richard Mourdock in the Nov. 6 election.

The check-off mistake made its way to data gathered by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advocates for transparency in government. Its website lists the Indiana Republican State Committee as being among independent groups that supported Donnelly.

The same list also shows that the committee spent $9,113 in support of Mourdock.

Jacob Fenton, editorial engineer for the Sunlight Foundation, said small errors in campaign finance reports “are fairly numerous,” but it is the responsibility of political committees and candidates to correct them.

Pence’s picks

So far, Gov.-elect Mike Pence is filling key roles in his administration with familiar faces.

His first three appointments have extensive ties to state government.

The head of the Indiana Office of Management and Budget will be Chris Atkins, who previously was general counsel and policy director for Gov. Mitch Daniels in the same agency.

Then there is Mike Ahearn, who will be Pence’s new general counsel. Ahearn spent the last eight years at the Indiana Department of Transportation.

And Pence has also tapped a former lawmaker with 40 years’ experience in state government – Jeff Espich – as a legislative affairs adviser.

Compare that to eight years ago when Gov. Mitch Daniels came in and plucked many of his key advisers and agency heads from the private sector.

His appointments started with Chuck Schalliol as budget director. He left his position as president and chief executive officer of BioCrossroads to serve. Previously, he spent years as an executive at Eli Lilly.

Next came chief of staff Harry Gonso, an attorney. Then Debra Minott as head of the State Personnel Department. She previously spent 11 years at Eli Lilly and was a high-ranking officer at Guidant Corp. when hired.

And then there was Joel Silverman as Bureau of Motor Vehicles commissioner. He formerly headed a sporting goods chain.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at bfrancisco@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. An expanded Political Notebook can also be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.

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