The Allen County Right to Life Political Action Committee has endorsed 21 candidates in the Nov. 6 general election – many of whom are seeking offices with no authority for writing, voting on or enforcing laws affecting women's reproduction rights.
“Unborn boys and girls and their mothers are counting on us to advance the cause of life in the midterm election. We need individuals at all levels of government who believe in the right to life,” PAC communications director Cathie Humbarger said Thursday in a statement. Humbarger also is executive director of Allen County Right to Life, which opposes abortion rights.
Endorsed candidates who have a legislative say on women's access to abortions include U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd; Republican state Sens. Dennis Kruse of Auburn in District 14 and Liz Brown of Fort Wayne in District 15; and Republican state Reps. Daniel Leonard of Huntington in District 50, Ben Smaltz of Auburn in District 52, Matthew Lehman of Berne in District 79, Martin Carbaugh of Fort Wayne in District 81, David Abbott of Rome City in District 82 and Dave Heine of New Haven in District 85.
The Right to Life PAC did not endorse Republican state Reps. Christopher Judy in District 83 or Bob Morris in District 84, both of Fort Wayne. The organization has endorsed them in past General Assembly elections.
Humbarger said neither Morris nor Judy, who is running unopposed, returned a candidate survey to Right to Life PAC in advance of this year's election.
“The policy of the ACRL-PAC is that candidates who do not submit a survey are not considered for endorsement. The candidates are aware of this policy,” Humbarger said in an email.
Endorsed candidates for Allen County commissioners are Republican incumbent Therese Brown in District 2 and candidate Richard Beck in District 3. County commissioners approved an ordinance in 2010 that requires non-resident medical providers to designate a local backup physician before they can practice in Allen County – a law that forced the closure of Fort Wayne's lone abortion clinic in 2014.
Republican Sheriff David Gladieux was endorsed by Allen County Right to Life. The sheriff enforces county ordinances.
Endorsed candidates whose offices appear to have nothing to do with reproductive rights include Republican County Council members Tom Harris in District 2 and Joel Benz in District 3; County Auditor Nicholas Jordan; County Recorder Anita Mather; and Republican candidates Kim Doster, council District 1, and Christopher Nancarrow, circuit court clerk.
Also endorsed were candidates for three school board seats that are not affiliated with political parties: East Allen County Schools board member Gayle Etzler, District 2E; Southwest Allen County Schools board member Tom Rhoades, District 1; and Fort Wayne Community Schools board at-large candidate Brian Thompson.
Other recent announcements include:
• The Indiana Right to Life PAC has endorsed Republican Mike Braun for a U.S. Senate seat from Indiana.
• The Alliance for Retired Americans has endorsed Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., for re-election to the seat Braun seeks.
• The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste PAC and the National Rifle Association have endorsed U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd.
Unopposed but not unengaged
House Majority Leader Matt Lehman, R-Berne, was recently highlighted in a national report about unopposed incumbents raking in cash.
A Center for Public Integrity analysis of National Institute on Money in Politics data focused on 26 legislative leaders in statehouses across America who are raising money despite being unopposed.
The safe legislators represent an attractive prospect for statehouse lobbyists and power-seekers: the sure bet. Contributions to these influential politicians can buy face time and favor with those who set state legislative agendas, experts say. The money also compounds their power: Legislative leaders use their pots of gold to buy presents to thank supporters, for example, or give to fellow lawmakers' campaigns to reward them for voting with their party.
“It makes a lot of sense to do what these contributors are doing,” said Michael Kang, a professor of law at Emory University who studies campaign finance. “They want to give to people in positions of power who are likely to be in positions of power for a while and can influence policy on the issues that they care about.”
Lehman was credited in the September report with raising more than $73,000, but that number is likely outdated since no campaign finance reports are expected this month. For comparison, Illinois leaders had both taken in millions.
So what exactly do the unopposed politicians do with all that cash? While some has gone to help out allies' campaigns or purchase normal political kitsch – such as buttons and bumper stickers – a few legislative leaders spent their war chests on more than $513,000 in sports tickets for supporters, more than $24,000 for country club golf outings and even $25,000 to a family member's accounting firm.
Gov. Eric Holcomb recently made another round of appointments to various boards and commissions, and several area residents were tapped.
• Brian Abbott, a teacher with Huntington County Community School Corporation, will continue his service on the Indiana Public Retirement System Board of Trustees.
• Former state senator Tom Wyss was reappointed to the Indiana State Police Board.
• Robert Krouse, of North Manchester, CEO of Midwest Poultry Services, will remain on the State Egg Board.
• Adams County Sheriff Shane Rekeweg was reappointed to the Statewide 911 Board.
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