Political Notebook

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    Republican State Treasurer candidate Kelly Mitchell is leaving her position Friday as director of TrustINdiana in order to focus more time on her campaign.
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  • Hamilton honored by ex-Congress group
    Lee Hamilton recently received the 2014 Distinguished Service Award of the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress.
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Davis sought city hall help

Scheibenberger
Davis

Mayor Tom Henry made news last week by hiring former Allen Superior Court Judge Ken Scheibenberger to be the city’s drug house coordinator.

But tapping the former judge for a new job isn’t necessarily an indication Henry’s administration wanted Scheibenberger to win re-election last year.

Superior Court Judge Wendy Davis, who defeated Scheibenberger in a three-way race, reached out to several of the mayor’s staff last fall seeking help.

In emails released as part of a Journal Gazette public records request, Davis asked for campaign assistance from City Attorney Carol Taylor, former legislative liaison Ozzie Mitson and former city spokesman Joe Fox.

The email, written to Fox’s city account in early September from Davis’ Beckman Lawson work account, asked whether they could help plan her campaign and what precincts to target. She also asks which email address to use for campaign correspondence.

“I know you have all done this before … and anyone else you think would be good to join us to get a plan, …” Davis wrote.

Fox was the only one to respond through a city email account that was part of our records request.

He directed Davis to use his personal email address in the future and to coordinate precinct strategy with City Councilman Tim Pape, D-5th. He asked for her supporter list to suggest more help.

Scheibenberger will be paid $43,339.82 annually in his new position.

White still in charge

Indicted Secretary of State Charlie White recently lost two key staffers in his office but quickly replaced both men.

Jerry Bonnet takes over as deputy secretary of state after Sean Keefer resigned. And A.J. Feeney-Ruiz takes over as communications director after Jason Thomas resigned. Both Bonnet and Feeney-Ruiz worked under former Secretary of State Todd Rokita.

Interestingly, Feeney-Ruiz was appointed by Bonnet – not White – according to the written statement.

That led to questions about whether White, who is facing seven felony counts including voter fraud, had decided to step away from duties in his office.

Several top Republicans, including Gov. Mitch Daniels, have urged him to resign or at least temporarily step down.

Feeney-Ruiz said that was not the case. “The Secretary is still handling day-to-day duties of the office, and technically I am his appointment, but he asked Jerry to find somebody to assume these duties – hence his bringing me onboard,” the new communications director said.

Stumping sort of

Gov. Mitch Daniels remained reticent about a possible presidential run while visiting Fort Wayne last week.

Even so, he hit a presidential note when he spoke passionately about his belief that the federal government’s deficit spending is a “mortal threat” to the American promise of a better life for each generation.

“I believe the nation is headed for Niagara Falls,” he said. “I believe we are headed for a true catastrophe if we don’t act.”

Daniels has taken heat from tea party groups and some conservatives for suggesting last year a “truce” be called on social issues – such as gay marriage and abortion rights – while America gets its fiscal house in order.

Answering questions posed by reporters, Daniels defended that stance and said he still believes it.

He called it a “modest suggestion” that Americans tone down their disagreements on anything else while facing what he believes is a universal threat.

“It’s all premised on a predicate that maybe I’m wrong about – I hope I am,” he said. “The predicate is that the clock is ticking. That’s not a philosophical point of view; it’s an arithmetic truth, at least as far as I can see.”

More hot tub jokes

Despite the gravity of most of his comments Wednesday, Daniels couldn’t resist a few more jabs at Indiana’s House Democrats and the ongoing self-imposed exile.

Since the minority’s walkout began, he has insinuated the Democrats are taking it easy in their Illinois hotel.

When he learned a Journal Gazette reporter had spent time in Urbana, he asked about the Comfort Suites’ hot tub.

“You didn’t get in there?” he asked. “There wasn’t any room, right?”

Half-full Democrats

Allen County Democratic Chairman Mike Bynum this month offered his annual state of the party address.

Although most of these speeches are positive, this one seemed to go a bit further, despite the national and local beatings the party took at the polls last year.

Bynum claimed Tom Hayhurst’s congressional campaign “sent a tidal wave of shivers into the Mark Souder camp once again.”

This could be true if interpreted to mean Hayhurst prompted Souder’s resignation, but Hayhurst did not come close to defeating Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Howe, in the November election.

Bynum also blamed “deceptive rhetoric” from Republicans for the losses of former Allen County Councilwoman Maye Johnson and others.

“We cannot allow the Republican Party to continue to destroy this county, our unions and supporters of our Democratic party,” according to the prepared remarks Bynum provided to The Journal Gazette.

Bynum finished by asking people to help re-elect President Obama in 2012 but did not make a similar call for Mayor Tom Henry and other local Democrats.

Angela Mapes Turner of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Benjamin Lanka at blanka@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. To discuss this entry of Political Notebook or others, go to the Political Notebook topic of “The Board” at www.journalgazette.net.

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