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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, July 15, 2017 1:00 am

A prudent next step for Donnelly

There has been no stronger critic of “outsourcing” – the practice of American companies who move jobs overseas to save on wages and benefits – than U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana.  

Donnelly was a strong and eloquent critic when Indianapolis' Carrier and its sibling company, Huntington's United Technologies Electronic Controls, decided to move many of their jobs to Mexico. He introduced a bill called the “End Outsourcing Act” and even offered to work with President Donald Trump to deter such actions.

Thursday, the Associated Press reported an arts-and-crafts business long owned by the senator's family owns a factory in Mexico where it has for more than a year been sending raw materials to be converted into ink pads and other products by Mexican workers.

The Donnelly family's company, Stewart Superior Corp., “is capitalizing on some of the very trade policies – and low-paid foreign labor – the senator has denounced,”  wrote AP's Brian Slodysko.

The company is run by the senator's brother. But in an annual financial disclosure filed in May, the senator reported owning as much as $50,000 worth of stock in the company and making between $15,001 and $50,000 in dividends during the previous year, AP reported.

“Some folks in Washington want to make the stock I've owned in my brother's company into a distraction from our work to end outsourcing and keep American jobs here instead of shipping them to other countries,” Donnelly said in a statement Friday. “I won't let them distract us, so I'm selling the stock in my brother's company – a company I haven't had an active role in for 20 years.”

Given the passion Donnelly has rightly focused on the outsourcing issue, though, AP's report isn't so much a distraction as it is an embarrassment.  

These days, some politicians ignore situations that make them look hypocritical.  By deciding to sell his stock, Donnelly is acknowledging a mistake and trying to put it right. But if he has any pull with his brother, he should try to get Stewart Superior to bring that work back home.