"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"

"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"
aka "Miss Victory"

Friday, February 15, 2008

Elrod embarasses Indiana: The Chicago Tribune & AP feature Elrod video story as national news

Is an apology enough to save Elrod's political career? --HFFT editor

Democrats video GOP Rep. signing campaign letters on House floor
Associated Press
2:58 PM CST, February 14, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS - A Republican state representative running for Congress has apologized for working on campaign materials while on the House floor.

State Democrats took video of Rep. Jon Elrod, R-Indianapolis, signing campaign thank-you letters and sealing them in envelopes. There are few ethical rules for legislators, and no law or regulation appears to prevent such activity by lawmakers, The Indianapolis Star reported Thursday.

Elrod, the Republican nominee in the 7th Congressional District race, said he was multitasking but used poor judgment. He said it would not happen again.

"I feel horrible about it. I really do. To put our caucus and everyone else in this position, it's just inexcusable," he said.

Elrod is running against Democrat Andre Carson in a March 11 special election for the congressional seat previously held by Carson's grandmother, Rep. Julia Carson, who died in December. Libertarian candidate Sean Shepard is also running.

Democrats had heard that Elrod was working on campaign materials in the House, said state party chairman Dan Parker. The party sent a staff member to video Elrod from the House balcony, and the aide recorded him working on campaign letters twice this month.

"It raises questions about Jon Elrod's ethics," Parker said. "Here he is on the floor of the House doing campaign work. That says that politics is more important than the people's work."

Elrod gave the letters to a legislative employee -- Graig Lubsen, deputy media director for House Republicans -- to mail.

The handbook for House personnel says employees "shall not perform campaign or political activity during hours they are performing work for the House." The rules also state that "campaign activity may not occur on House property."

House Minority Leader Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said Lubsen violated House rules and there would be consequences, although he did not specify what actions could be taken. He said he had a stern talk with Elrod and Lubsen, who said he did not know the letters were campaign-related.

"I'm confident it has not ever happened before, and I'm very confident it will never, ever happen again," Bosma said.

Julia Vaughn, with the government watchdog group Common Cause Indiana, said the incident "isn't the biggest scandal since Watergate." But she said lawmakers should refrain from doing campaign work in the Statehouse.

Indiana Republican Party Chairman Murray Clark, a former state senator, said he doesn't see anything wrong with it. He said the flap shows that Democrats are desperate to hold onto the 7th District.

"Democrats are going to pull out every trick in the book," Clark said. "I'm going to call Jon and make sure he pulls his shades at night."

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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