The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

State News

April 30, 2014

Turner cleared by ethics committee

Concerns remain over lack of transparency

INDIANAPOLIS — State Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, didn't break any rules for privately lobbying against a Statehouse bill, but those rules may need to be changed, according to a report accepted Wednesday by the House Ethics Committee.

The report stated Turner did not meet a high level of transparency but, under current House regulations, wasn't outside the confines of the law. The six-page document also said the rules of disclosing personal interests will be reviewed and possibly changed before the 2015 session.

"While the committee does not find that a technical violation has occurred, we are concerned that Representative Turner's actions have not achieved the highest spirit of transparency," the report stated. "Remaining questions about his conduct ... gives us concern that our rules do not require enough disclosure."

Turner, who was absent during an ethics commission meeting last week, did not attend Wednesday's hearing either. Turner serves part of northern Madison County.

The committee was tasked with determining whether Turner crossed a line during the 2014 legislative session when he was accused of helping kill a bill that would have damaged a business in which he had a financial interest.

The situation popped up after a story by The Associated Press claimed Turner had lobbied in a private caucus meeting against a bill that would have placed a moratorium on building nursing homes. Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody asked House Speaker Brain Bosma, a Republican, to look into the allegations.

Turner's son owns Mainstreet Property Group, a company that builds nursing homes. Turner is an investor in the company. The moratorium, if passed, could have damaged the business.

During a committee meeting last week, Chair Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, read aloud some of Turner's responses to questioning from Steuerwald and Rep. Clyde Kersey, a Democrat from Terre Haute. Turner claimed he disclosed his personal interests before "offering his expertise" on the nursing home discussion.

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