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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, March 18, 2018 1:00 am

Senate to public: No cameras

GOP leaders say new sign follows longtime policy

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

When you visit the Indiana Senate public gallery, don't expect to be able to get a photo for posterity.

The Senate posted a new sign recently that says “no photography or video 15 minutes prior to and during session.”

One visitor tweeted that she was almost asked to leave March 8 because she took a photo.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long also recently interrupted discussion on the floor to admonish someone in the gallery for taking a photo or video.

Molly Swigart, spokeswoman for the Senate Republicans, said the sign simply replaced an outdated one, but the policy is longstanding.

She said the ban is in place “to protect the integrity of our floor debate and prevent it from being used for political purposes.

“The Senate streams all committees and session meetings and subsequently archives the video on our public website, and provides seating for the public for session and all committees in an effort to promote transparency. We also allow credentialed media to videotape and take pictures from the press area, again in the interest of transparency.”

Erin Reece, spokeswoman for the House Republicans, said there is no rule against people taking pictures or video from the public gallery in that chamber.

She acknowledged that if a camera is large or blocking other people's view, the person might be asked to move.

“We try to be accommodating,” Reece said.

Messer, Pence kin to campaign

U.S. Rep. Luke Messer, who seeks the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat from Indiana, will campaign Monday in Fort Wayne with a brother of Vice President Mike Pence.

Messer, R-6th, and Greg Pence, a candidate for the Republican nomination to replace Messer in the House, will be at Allen County Republican Party Headquarters, 135 W. Main St., at noon Monday for a meet and greet event, according to Messer's campaign. People wishing to attend should RSVP at www.eventbrite.com.

Messer, Rep. Todd Rokita, R-4th, and former state lawmaker Mike Braun are candidates in the May 8 primary election for the GOP Senate nomination. The winner will face Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in the Nov. 6 general election.

Greg Pence is among 11 candidates – five Republicans and six Democrats – for their parties' nominations in east-central and southeast Indiana's 6th Congressional District.

Meantime, Braun announced Thursday a legislative plan called “Get Washington Moving Again.” His proposals include enacting congressional term limits, banning former members of Congress from lobbying, eliminating congressional pensions, requiring federal legislators to “follow the same laws as everyone else” and banning “pork barrel spending,” also known as earmarks – the process of authorizing federal funds for pet projects in lawmakers' home states or districts.

Congress has prohibited earmarks since 2011, and fact-checkers including PolitiFact and FactCheck.org have labeled as false, outdated or misleading the persistent claims that lawmakers are exempt from obeying many laws they pass.

Braun, who is largely self-financing his Senate campaign, said in a statement his plan would “end the perks that allow people to make a career out of serving in office and hold politicians accountable to the folks who elected them, not the special interests and insiders that bankroll their campaigns.”

Ritz to speak at Tritch fundraiser

Former Indiana public instruction superintendent Glenda Ritz and Jill Donnelly, the wife of Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., will be the featured speakers at a Saturday fundraising brunch for Democratic congressional candidate Courtney Tritch.

“The Power of Her Story: A Brunch in Celebration of Women's Voices!” will be from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Bergstaff Place, 2020 E. Washington Blvd. Tritch's campaign said female entrepreneurs, artists and community leaders from the 3rd Congressional District will attend. Tickets are available at https://secure.actblue.com/donate/powerofher.

Ritz was the state's public education chief from 2013 through 2016 and is now an education consultant. Jill Donnelly is director of regional development at the University of Notre Dame.

Fort Wayne resident Tritch is among three people seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, in the Nov. 6 general election.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at bfrancisco@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. An expanded Political Notebook can be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.