Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Justice Department Brings 14-Count Indictment Against Sen. Robert Menendez

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) (Getty Images)
Sen. Robert Menendez' relationship with a Florida ophthalmologist, a close friend and major campaign contributor, had been rumored to be a problem for the veteran lawmaker for quite some time, particularly after the physician was accused by the government of over billing Medicare. Today, the Justice Department announced a 14-count indictment against the Democratic New Jersey senator, including one count of conspiracy, one count of violating the Travel Act, eight counts of bribery, three counts of honest services fraud, and one count of making false statements. Dr. Salomon Melgen was also indicted. An FBI press release details the charges against the two related to the exchange of nearly $1 million worth of gifts and campaign contributions Melgen made to Menendez in exchange for Menendez aiding Melgen in his ongoing Medicare billing disputes and obtaining visas from the State Department for Melgen's young girlfriends:
According to allegations in the indictment, between January 2006 and January 2013, Menendez accepted close to $1 million worth of lavish gifts and campaign contributions from Melgen in exchange for using the power of his Senate office to influence the outcome of ongoing contractual and Medicare billing disputes worth tens of millions of dollars to Melgen and to support the visa applications of several of Melgen’s girlfriends.
Specifically, the indictment alleges that, among other gifts, Menendez accepted flights on Melgen’s private jet, a first-class commercial flight and a flight on a chartered jet; numerous vacations at Melgen’s Caribbean villa in the Dominican Republic and at a hotel room in Paris; and $40,000 in contributions to his legal defense fund and over $750,000 in campaign contributions. Menendez never disclosed any of the reportable gifts that he received from Melgen on his financial disclosure forms.
According to allegations in the indictment, during this same time period, Menendez allegedly engaged in three efforts to use his Senate office and staff to advocate on behalf of Melgen’s personal and financial interests. First, Menendez allegedly pressured executive agencies in connection with a conflict between Melgen and the government of the Dominican Republic relating to a disputed contract that Melgen purchased to provide exclusive screening of containers coming through Dominican ports. Second, Menendez allegedly advocated on behalf of Melgen in connection with a Medicare billing dispute worth approximately $8.9 million to Melgen. Third, Menendez allegedly took active steps to support the tourist and student visa applications of three of Melgen’s girlfriends, as well as the visa application of the younger sister of one of Melgen’s girlfriends. Throughout these efforts, Menendez allegedly engaged in advocacy for Melgen all the way up to the highest levels of the U.S. government, including meeting with a U.S. cabinet secretary, contacting a U.S. Ambassador, meeting with the heads of executive agencies and other senior executive officials and soliciting other U.S. Senators, all in order to assist Melgen’s personal and pecuniary interests.
The indictment makes no allegations regarding prostitutes that may have been procured for Menendez as some earlier media reports had suggested. It would be interesting to know what, if anything, Hillary Clinton or her top aides at State Department may have played in assisting Melgen's girlfriends obtain visas. Who was the cabinet secretary with whom the press release says Menendez met to discuss the visas. [Update: No such luck. The cabinet secretary was HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.]

Sen. Menendez, while insisting he was innocent of the charges, stepped down from his role as ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where his views clashed frequently with those of the Obama administration, particularly on American relations with Cuba and Iran. "I am outraged that prosecutors at the Justice Department were tricked into starting this investigation three years ago with false allegations by those who have a political motive to silence me," Menendez said. "I will not be silenced. I'm confident at the end of the day I will be vindicated and they will be exposed."

A full copy of the indictment can be viewed here.

Carmel And Fishers Mayors Say Open To All: Neither City Prohibits Discrimination Based On Sexual Orientation

Many larger Indiana cities have adopted local human rights ordinances barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, including Bloomington, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Michigan City, Lafayette, South Bend, Terre Haute and West Lafayette, even though the state's civil rights law like Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act does not include sexual orientation as a protected class.

Oddly, mayors of Carmel and Fishers, the two largest suburban Indianapolis communities whose mayors are preaching openness and equality in the wake of the backlash over false claims that Indiana's newly-enacted RFRA law allows discrimination against gays, do not have local ordinances protecting their residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation. Here's what Carmel Mayor James Brainard and Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness had to say about RFRA according to WISH-TV:
The fallout from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is being felt in communities around the state. In Fishers, Mayor Scott Fadness issued a proclamation regarding the bill. In part it simply states the city is and always has been inclusive and proud of its diversity.
Fadness said Fishers aspires to be a “smart, vibrant and entrepreneurial” community and he wants to make sure those looking to locate there – be it a business or a new resident – know they are welcome . . .
“In Fishers we want to send the message to our businesses and our residents that we’re open for business,” Fadness said. “We’re inclusive of everyone and we’re going to continue to further this entrepreneurial culture.” . . . In Carmel, Mayor Jim Brainard said he’s made it clear from the beginning that the state and Carmel welcomes people from all backgrounds and all beliefs.
“One of Indiana’s strengths is always been that we are hospitable and we’re welcoming and this law does not express the way people are in Indiana,” he said. “And we need to fix that as quickly as possible.”
Brainard said the state is “shooting itself in the foot” and needs to “be smarter than that” and hopes the legislature does something soon to remedy the perception that Indiana isn’t about Hoosier Hospitality . . . 
The two Republican mayors aren't alone in their hypocrisy on the subject. Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott, Jr., whose city also lacks a local ordinance protecting its residents from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, wants Gov. Mike Pence to resign:
In the wake of Indiana’s controversial new “religious freedom” law, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said Indiana Gov. Mike Pence should resign for the good of the state.
“I’m embarrassed that this guy’s our governor, and I’m embarrassed that they [Republicans] don’t even talk to the minority party when they’re trying to pass bills,” McDermott said. “They don’t talk to Democrats, they don’t care what Democrats have to say. They stepped in it this time.”
McDermott said any CEO who embarrasses his company like Pence has embarrassed Indiana would resign . . .
I’m not embarrassed to be a Hoosier. Hoosiers are great people. They’re tolerant people. They’re smart people. They’re caring and compassionate people. This is not what we Hoosiers are, and Governor Pence knows that,” McDermott said.
Yeah, do as I say, not as I do.

Pence Take Down In High Gear: He's Being Schocked

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I've never been much of a fan of Mike Pence, but I have enough compassion for him to provide this dire warning to him. A take down of your political career is in high gear now. Some of the people in which you placed ill-advised faith are part of an organized attempt to completely discredit you at every turn. Their goal is not simply to dash your presidential ambitions or defeat your re-election bid in 2016 as governor. They intend to force your resignation as Indiana's governor.

The Gannett-owned Indianapolis Star and their man Mitch is behind those efforts. Consider yourself warned. If you thought your life has been a living hell this past week, you haven't seen nothing yet. Look across the border at former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock at how quickly his political career was taken down when the powers that be decided he had to go if you want to see what they have in store for you. I don't pretend to know what you did to offend them, but you are now their bullseye. Star political columnist Matt Tully, returning from his latest circle jerk club meeting, serves up the latest proof of your pending doom:
Recent months have made one thing clear: You can put those Mike Pence for President campaign buttons, if there were any, back in the drawer.
Something else, meantime, is becoming more obvious with each new mistake: Pence was never meant to be a governor. A partisan and dysfunctional Congress that lives on bright line divisions was his home for 12 years, and that's where he belongs — in a place where a person can rise high by talking well and digging in and not really doing much. A place where, for the most part, you are not held accountable for results.
Being a governor is different. It's about being a leader who is forced every day to think pragmatically, who knows that doing no harm is high on the list of requirements, and who understands that the job is at its core about making sure your state's people have a better chance of earning a decent living or getting a great education tomorrow than they do today.
In recent days, Fortune magazine listed former Gov. Mitch Daniels among "the world's 50 greatest leaders." At the same time, Pence, the man who followed Daniels into office, has once again been exposed as a stunningly ineffective leader . . . 
For Indiana Republicans, it must be particularly hard to accept what has been lost in these past 27 months: The hard-earned mantle of the party of action and the party of ideas. Under Daniels, it was also a party that had made inroads with minority groups and college students. 
For Indiana Republicans, that mantle is lost. It was shattered by a governor who never should have given up his seat in Congress. It was shattered by a governor who is in the wrong job, and whose mistakes have cost Indiana dearly.
What can I say, Mike? You lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas. Remember former Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham, and the role the Star's sister newspaper, The Arizona Republic, had in his take down? Yeah, that ended ugly. Mecham was later acquitted of the charges The Republic trumped up against him, but by that point there was nothing left of his reputation.

Ballard Looks To Salvage Electric Car Sharing Plan By Hook Or Crook

In his final months in office, Greg Ballard has become Rod Blagojevich on steroids. Unlike Blagojevich, Ballard has no fear of a prosecutor looking over his shoulders and can count on the Indianapolis Star to create faux stories to distract the sheeple as he continues to plunder as many public tax dollars for the benefit of his political cronies in what's left of his shameful tenure as Indianapolis mayor. Ballard is unfazed by the IURC's refusal to allow IPL to levy electric rate increases on all Indianapolis ratepayers to pay for another one of his P3 kickback schemes--this one involving an electric car sharing program.

A story buried in the Indianapolis Star among the avalanche of reporting over the manufactured public outrage over RFRA is how Ballard is doing all he can to salvage his plan to force the public to finance the BlueIndy electric car sharing scheme. The Star laments the fact that "compact, zippy and colorful" electric cars are just sitting like "museum exhibits" downtown. Ballard now claims he was close to a deal with a French-owned firm he met during one of his overseas junkets funded by the same political insiders who financially benefit from virtually every decision he makes as mayor--yet another blockbuster story the Indianapolis Star and the rest of the Indianapolis media have covered up throughout his two terms as mayor--when his deal-making was interrupted by the RFRA uproar. Ballard said the talks were progressing steadily up to last week.
"We were close," he said. "We had most of the parties together on it."
Then, Ballard said, Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and city officials were overwhelmed with containing the fallout, as companies threatened to boycott the state.
"That's taken all our attention," Ballard said of the law, which opponents say would allow businesses to discriminate against gays, lesbians and same-sex couples.
Ballard said BlueIndy was a perfect example of the type of program that appeals to young, upscale and diverse workers the city is trying to attract. Those residents are also the type to be most upset with the state for passage of the RFRA.
"It threatens what thousands of people have spent 40 years building," Ballard said of job opportunities, cultural attractions and housing choices designed to attract young workers the city has been cultivating.
Still, Rosenberg said, BlueIndy remains "a top priority," and the company has not been dissuaded by RFRA.
"They are aware of it (RFRA), but they know what the mayor is about," Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg is the same cake boy Ballard put in charge of the P3 criminal justice center project, which this blog has proven was nothing more than rigged bidding process from the beginning intended as yet another scheme involving bribes, kickbacks and payoffs, all of which is being ignored by your lamestream media as they distract your attention on faux news stories like RFRA that complicit members of the Indianapolis City-County Council are all too happy to play along with as a diversion from the issues that should concern the public the most. I wouldn't be surprised if Ballard doesn't wind up tapping his downtown TIF slush fund or money generated from his other corrupt P3 deal that privatized the city's parking meter assets. Who cares whether there is any money to repair pothole-filled streets, broken sidewalks and other crumbling infrastructure? As long as there is still some money to be made for a few insiders at the public's expense, that's all that matters.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Council Feasibility Study Shows P3 Criminal Justice Center Not Possible Without Big Tax Increase Or Deep Budget Cuts

Mayor Greg Ballard told us that he can rely on a public-private partnership agreement to deliver a brand new criminal justice center for not a dime more than we're paying for our existing criminal justice facilities. So the City-County Council decided to perform an independent feasibility study rather than relying on the financial analysis the Ballard administration paid millions to KPMG to assure us its P3 formula was the most cost efficient way of getting that new criminal justice center. Not surprisingly, the independent study found KMPG's financial analysis was riddled with errors, omissions and just plain misrepresentations that add up to a shortfall of at least $37 million during the first 8 years alone.

KPMG conducted a Value for Money ("VfM") analysis to compare the total payments under the P3 method versus what it would cost to procure a criminal justice center under a more traditional procurement method. Because KPMG had contingency payments riding on the success of the P3, it naturally skewed its results to support the pre-ordained P3 model. The independent report for the council identifies how KPMG produced its desired outcome:

  • KPMG’s VfM used an arbitrary and unsubstantiated discount rate of 5% in calculating the net present value of the City’s costs under the proposed agreement with WMB. This artificially deflated the present value of the proposed overall WMB project cost by over $191M compared to using a more appropriate and recognized discount rate. 
  • KPMG’s VfM arbitrarily ignored the entire Design-Build project delivery method available to the City under I.C. 5-30. Similar to a D-B-F-O-M delivery method, the Design-Build method would allow the City to finance a guaranteed construction price and transfer much of its design and construction risks to the winning Design-Build team. 
  • KPMG’s VfM used unsubstantiated and yet highly-unfavorable assumptions to estimate the City’s alternative public, tax-exempt financing capabilities, including using an unjustifiably expensive 30 year A- rated bond plus 75 basis points. This bond rating was arbitrarily low and unsupported by the City’s existing AAA credit rating. Indianapolis maintains a AAA credit rating with two rating agencies and a AA rating with the third. Rather, far more supportable estimate would assume the City could reasonably issue a Bond through the Building Authority backed by a COIT pledge from the City with a AA municipal bond plus 50 basis points. This would significantly reduce the net-debt service payments and overall costs for the city to finance the project itself. There would be no need for a referendum, and the Building Authority is not subject to debt limitations. 
  • KPMG’s VfM estimated the City’s operation costs for the proposed facility at $10.25 per square foot of space. A standard industry survey put the average operating cost per square ft. in Indianapolis at $7.95 in 2013, or conservatively adjusted to $9.10 in 2015. Importantly, Building Authority (which currently operates both Jail and City-County Building) independently quoted the cost per square foot as $6.25 to operate the proposed justice center in 2019. Including funding of life cycle costs, the Director of the Building Authority estimated costs to be $8.08 in 2019. Given the vast experience of the Building Authority, we believe this is the appropriate figure to estimate the present value of operating and maintenance costs. 
  • KPMG’s VfM includes an unnecessary “operating risk adjustment” cost to the City for alternatively operating the facility itself. This calculation, however, assumes an unreasonable and unsubstantiated 80% likelihood of an operating outage and assumes that the City is incapable of negotiating a separate operating agreement sufficient to avoid this risk. 
  • KPMG’s VfM assessment includes a state tax adjustment amount that is wholly inappropriate, because local governments do not receive any state corporate tax-revenue. As such, WMB paying corporate taxes is not a value-add for the county.
In short, the independent study for the council concluded that allowing a private developer to build, operate and maintain a new criminal justice center for the next 35 years is not the most cost effective way to procure a new criminal justice center. A city-financed, design-build approach would cost the city $516 million less than entering into the 35-year P3 agreement with WMB Heartland Justice Partners. What it means is that if the council approves the P3 agreement with WMB, it will become necessary either to make deep cuts elsewhere in the budget or raise taxes. And, of course, it also contradicts the one-sided reporting of the Indianapolis Star, the IBJ and other local media to advance all things related to this latest scheme concocted by corrupt political insiders to defraud Indianapolis taxpayers, who will still be out $15 million wasted on this project to date if its scrapped in favor of the design-build approach recommended as the most cost-effective approach. 

You can read the full report by clicking here

Indianapolis Star Story Accidentally Proves RFRA Law Doesn't Give License To Discriminate Against Gays

A former employee of the Gannett-owned newspaper once told me that a senior management employee told the newspaper's employees their job wasn't to simply report the news; it was to frame and shape the news. The lie that made its way several times around the world over the past week that Indiana had passed a law providing businesses a license to discriminate against gays became the truth regardless of the actual text of a law informed and formulated by decades of judicial opinions as a consequence of the way the Indianapolis Star chose to frame and shape the reporting of Indiana's RFRA law. If you read an online story on the Star's website today, "How Indiana's RFRA differs from federal version," the newspaper accidentally reveals the true meaning of the law, not the false, hysterical description opponents of the law have used to brand anyone associated with its passage as a bigot, with whom most of the media have blindly sided in this pathetic debate.

To be sure, as the story's analysis reveals, there are differences in the text included in the federal RFRA law signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and the state law Gov. Mike Pence signed into law last week. None of those changes, however, support the opponents' argument that the law gives a license to Indiana businesses to discriminate against gays, even with the gratuitous comments thrown into the story made by opponents of the law. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who coauthored the federal law describes the differences as "significant, legal differences," and that Indiana's law "in no way resembles the intent or application of the federal RFRA." His words were polite compared to former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Frank Sullivan, Jr., who described RFRA as "code for we need to deny gay and lesbians the civil rights they are asserting." Sullivan told the Star this "is obvious because the same people — including lawmakers and lobbyists — who were pushing for the failed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage are now behind the RFRA law." Don't you just love it when a supposedly respected judge paints with such a broad brush?

So what are these "significant, legal differences" between the federal and state law? The first difference raised by opponents centers on the inclusion of for profit corporations in the state law's definition of covered persons. The federal RFRA law failed to provide a definition of the "persons" allowed to assert a religious liberty right as a defense to action compelled by a law, but the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case relied upon the definition provided in the Dictionary Act for the U.S. Code, which includes in the definition of a person "corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies and joint stock companies." The opponents rely upon this supposed expanded definition to argue it broadens the idea of who has the right to religious liberty. The opponents' argument fails because nobody can argue with a straight face that covered persons under Indiana law is broader than the federal law.

The second point on which the opponents argue the state law is written more broadly than the federal law is the inclusion of religious liberty claims that include not only those cases where a person's religious freedom has been burdened but also when it is likely to be substantially burdened by government action. The opponents claim this has the effect of expanding the type of claims covered persons can assert under the law. That argument similarly fails because the proponents point out that federal courts have interpreted RFRA to read "likely" into the statute so that one doesn't have to be already injured before asserting a claim. As the proponents point out, it's the difference in whether the relief being claimed is compensation for an injury already suffered or an injunction to prevent a violation. In other words, there's no real difference between the federal law as applied by the courts and the Indiana law as written.

The final major point on which the opponents claim Indiana's law differs from the federal law is that it allows a party in a judicial or administrative proceeding between two private parties to assert a religious freedom defense under the act. The opponents suggest this makes it easier for businesses sued by persons discriminated against because of their sexual orientation to raise their religious beliefs as a defense to their discriminatory actions. In the years following the passage of the federal law, it has been interpreted in four judicial circuits covering half of the states to allow cases between private parties as well as those cases brought by the government to invoke RFRA if the burden is imposed by the law relied upon to assert discrimination occurred. So the Indiana law incorporates the prevailing rule applied in at least half of the states already. As the proponents point out, in virtually every case where discrimination based on sexual orientation was the basis of the underlying claim in cases between private parties, judges have ruled the government had a compelling interest in enacting the underlying nondiscrimination law to overcome the defense raised under RFRA. So again, this is another red herring where the opponents want you to believe that administrative bodies and judges in red states will rule against gays because that's just the kind of people they are.

"Is Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act the same as the federal version that became law two decades ago," the Star reporters asked in the opening sentence of their story today. "Not quite," they answered. They continued, "Indiana's RFRA is similar, but not identical. And there's debate about how much those differences matter." Now that you know the differences between the federal and state law, would you agree that those differences are a distinction without any real differences?

The Hypocrisy Behind RFRA Outrage

So now nine CEOs from companies like Eli Lilly, Cummins, Anthem and Angie's List have sent a letter to Gov. Mike Pence and Indiana's legislative leaders repeating the lie made up out of whole cloth by the opponents of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA") that the newly-enacted law gives businesses and individuals a license to discriminate against gays. This so-called "corporate social advocacy" of tying a state's social policies to a willingness of these companies to do business in some places is a growing and disturbing trend, particularly because of the selective and hypocritical outrage of the out-of-touch elitists who run these companies.

Imagine our state officials being lectured by corporate executives who not only ship jobs overseas to some of the countries with the worst human rights abuses like China where organized religion is virtually non-existent, but actually pay bribes to their government officials for the right to do business there as Eli Lilly has been called out by our own government for doing. They aren't just shipping jobs to lower paid workers overseas. Some of these companies actually lobby Congress to ease work visa rules to flood the country with even more foreign workers, dashing hopes of many American workers of finding a decent paying job when they graduate from college to help pay down the mountain of debt they incur getting a higher education in this country.

When Cummins was asking Indianapolis taxpayers last year to shell out millions in public subsidies to build new corporate offices in downtown Indianapolis, I don't recall the leaders of the company conditioning the generosity of Indianapolis taxpayers on its state leaders agreeing to enact or not enact a law that until it was proposed in Indiana this year-- after being passed unanimously by the House of Representatives and approved by the Senate with only three dissenting votes before being signed into law by President Bill Clinton, an action which was followed by at least 18 other states and countless number of court decisions in more than a dozen other states establishing essentially the same standard of review in cases involving religious freedom claims. Likewise, Eli Lilly expressed no concern about the state's social policies when it sought and obtained hundreds of millions in tax abatements from the city. And the NCAA, convention industry, NBA and NFL, et al. didn't give a hoot about how Indiana treated anyone other than themselves when they sought and obtained billions of dollars in subsidies from state and local taxpayers over the past three decades for their new sports and convention facilities.

The hypocrisy meter breaks when it comes to the reaction of Mayor Greg Ballard and Angie's List's CEO Bill Oesterle to the passage of Indiana's RFRA. Mayor Ballard just a few short years ago had to be reminded by this blog that Indianapolis enacted an ordinance in 2005 that prohibited a business owner in the city-owned City Market from refusing to provide service to gay customers because the business' owner disagreed with their lifestyle, and then only reluctantly agreed to enforce the law after much hand-wringing, claims by some of the city's largest law firms that the law didn't really mean what it said and, incredibly, even public claims by the council members and some gay rights advocates that the law they sponsored and backed didn't say what it really said. It's too bad these folks are incapable of reading Indiana's RFRA law. If they had bothered, they would know there is nothing in it that gives anyone a license to discriminate.

So Mayor Ballard has issued a new executive order restating what the 2005 ordinance already states, demanded that state lawmakers change state law, and the City-County Council has passed a resolution denouncing the newly-enacted RFRA law while holding hands with Angie's List's CEO Bill Oesterle, whose company stands accused in a class action civil lawsuit of defrauding its consumer members by providing positive ratings for businesses which pay hefty fees to advertise with his company, while downgrading businesses which refuse to pay protection money to rate favorable treatment on Angie's List. Mayor Ballard and a bunch of our city council members want to reward Angie's List's unacceptable business practices with $18.5 million in public subsidies to expand its operations, a move Oesterle now says is on hold because of the new state law. I'm sure the fact that his company has never earned a profit in its two decades of existence despite no shortage of fools willing to invest in it had anything to do with it, but let's jump on the bandwagon of mislabeling RFRA supporters as bigots because it makes me look good. It's all about appearances, after all, not actual substance.

Who said Hoosier Hysteria was all about basketball? Well move over basketball. There's a new game in town being played. Let's call it Hoosier Hypocrites.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Freedom Indiana Now Admits Indiana Law, Like Federal Law, Already Permitted Discrimination Against Gays

After vilifying the Indiana General Assembly and Gov. Mike Pence for supposedly enacting a form of RFRA that discriminates against gays, Freedom Indiana finally owns up to the fact that Indiana's civil rights law never protected gays from discrimination. In fact, not even the federal Civil Rights Act protects gays from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. Even when Democrats controlled the White House and both houses of Congress, there was no serious push made to expand federal civil rights protection to persons based on sexual orientation.

In a press release issued this morning, Freedom Indiana is now seeking the legislative solution it didn't seek before it cast RFRA as representing something it did not:
The "Fairness for All Hoosiers Act" legislative proposal would: 
• Update the state laws against discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations to provide protections for LGBT Hoosiers. 
• Clarify that the recently enacted RFRA cannot be used to allow discrimination prohibited under state or local laws. 
"If we don't act now, we will continue to do irreparable harm to Indiana's economy and our ability to attract top talent and jobs to our state," Katie Blair said. "We're presenting this solution as a way to start rebuilding our reputation and to move on from this harmful legislation by ensuring protections for all Hoosiers."
Let me repeat, both federal and the state's civil rights law permit discrimination against persons based on their sexual orientation. That's always been the case. While some Indiana cities, including Indianapolis, have enacted human rights ordinances with expanded civil rights protections for gays, those local ordinances are viewed as being very weak in terms of enforcement and remedies.

So will Freedom Indiana be issuing an apology to Gov. Pence and state lawmakers for falsely accusing them of passing a law that discriminates against gays? Don't count on it, and don't count on any honest reporting by the useless State House media that has aided and abetted Freedom Indiana and other opponents of RFRA in representing this legislation to the state and the nation as something it never was.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Woman Behind The Orchestrated Attack On RFRA: Meet Katie Blair

If you're one of those rallying against Indiana's RFRA law, Advance Indiana thought you should see the woman who has orchestrated the statewide and now national attack in the media against it in an effort to villainize anyone of faith, in particular those of the Christian faith. Meet Katie Blair. The idea of recasting RFRA as short-hand for all things anti-gay was her brainchild. In this role she has found more success than gaining supporters for government-funded abortions to all women on demand in her former role as director of activism for Planned Parenthood of Indiana. A few months after leaving her next job at the state Democratic Party as director of the 51% Club, she became advocacy coordinator for the ACLU of Indiana. See Blair speaking at this State House rally for Planned Parenthood of Indiana in 2011. The ACLU, incidentally, supported the original federal law signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

George "The Fraud" Stephanopolous Grills Pence On RFRA

The irony in watching ABC News' George Stephanopolous, a former attack dog media spinner for President Bill Clinton, grill Gov. Mike Pence on his decision to sign Indiana's version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRF"). While Stephanopolous, a closeted homosexual, was flacking in the Clinton administration, President Clinton signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA") to bar recognition of same-sex marriages, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which statutorily recognized the military's policy of barring gays from serving in the military and this now condemned law known as RFRA. To this day, Bill Clinton remains the only president in the history of the United States to sign into law discriminatory laws against gay people. The hypocrisy of these people is beyond the pale. Gov. Pence handles himself well under questioning by the faux newsman. As I've said on numerous occasions, I don't believe a federal or state RFRA law is needed; however, I won't stand by and watch as a bunch of carnival barkers commandeer the public stage and make this law out to be something it has never been since the federal law was enacted more than two decades ago. Yep, there's truly a sucker born every minute.