Political Notebook


A little bit of DC heading to Kosciusko

Congress is coming to Kosciusko County this week – three members of it, anyway.

Federal lawmakers are on a “district work period” this month, what used to be known as recess. A senator and two representatives have scheduled visits to Kosciusko County, which is split between two House districts.

On Monday morning, Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., will tour a Pierceton-area farm. He plans to discuss agriculture legislation and get a firsthand look at soil conservation and drainage practices, according to his staff.

At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, will give a legislative update and field questions at a program in Warsaw sponsored by the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce and the Kosciusko Builders Association. The program will be at the chamber building.

At 2:45 p.m. Tuesday, Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-2nd, will have an informal forum for military veterans at Russ’ Barn & Grille, east of Claypool, to discuss their experiences with the Department of Veterans Affairs and provisions of recently enacted legislation designed to improve the delivery of VA health care.

Also this week, Stutzman and his staff will open a district office in Bluffton. His existing district offices are in Fort Wayne and Winona Lake.

Stutzman will have an open house at the Bluffton office, 118 S. Johnson St., at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday. The office will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

From 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, the Northeast Indiana Association of Health Underwriters will have a town hall meeting with Stutzman at Lutheran Hospital that apparently is doubling as a fundraiser for a political action committee operated by the congressman.

The underwriters group said Stutzman will talk about health care legislation, foreign policy, immigration and the Nov. 4 general election. He is challenged in the election by Democrat Justin Kuhnle and Libertarian Scott Wise.

An announcement on the town hall meeting said that donations of $25 per attendee are recommended, with checks payable to MarlinPAC. According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, MarlinPAC has given $22,500 to a dozen Republican candidates for Congress, most of them incumbents. Top donors to the PAC include Bank of America, New York Life Insurance and Raytheon.

Mike Ripley, president of the Indiana State Association of Health Underwriters, said in a later email to Political Notebook: “Donations are optional. We will not be requiring any contributions.”

The town hall meeting will be in classrooms 1 and 2 on the lower level of Lutheran Hospital, 7952 W. Jefferson Blvd.

Donnelly leads money race

Years before either stands for re-election, Indiana’s junior U.S. senator is gaining ground on its senior senator in campaign fundraising.

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., raised nearly $189,000 in contributions during the second quarter of this year, about $60,000 more than Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., did in the same period, according to recent reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

For their election cycles to date, Coats has raised $1.15 million in contributions and has nearly $670,700 in the bank, compared with Donnelly’s $950,000 in contributions and $334,000 in cash. But Coats had a two-year head start – he was elected in 2010, Donnelly in 2012.

Coats is up for re-election in 2016 and Donnelly in 2018. Their fundraising numbers pale compared with those of Senate incumbents running for re-election this year. For example, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had raised $22.6 million in contributions through June, and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., had pulled in $16 million.

Accolades for Brady

Some of the best tributes to James Brady, the Reagan White House press secretary who died Monday at 73, came from several of his successors.

Brady was left partly paralyzed after he, President Ronald Reagan and two law-enforcement officers were shot March 30, 1981, by John Hinckley outside a Washington hotel. Brady went on to become a leading advocate of gun purchase restrictions and inspired the Brady Bill, the law that requires background checks of firearms buyers.

Current White House press secretary Josh Earnest and nine former press secretaries – Jay Carney and Robert Gibbs (President Barack Obama), Dana Perino and Ari Fleishcher (President George W. Bush), Jake Siewert, Joe Lockhart, Mike McCurry and Dee Dee Myers (President Bill Clinton) and Marlin Fitzwater (Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush) – released a joint statement about Brady.

“Jim always did his job with the highest integrity,” they said. “He had a true affection and respect for the press, relished a good sparring with the front row, and was an unfailing defender of the President and the value of a free press. Jim set the model and standard for the rest of us to follow. It’s been a genuine honor for each of us to stand at the podium in the briefing room that will always bear his name.”

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