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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, February 18, 2017 10:01 pm

Stutzman, wife form lobbying, consulting firm

Niki Kelly and Brian Francisco | The Journal Gazette

Former congressman Marlin Stutzman, his wife, Christy, and three former aides to Stutzman have formed a consulting and lobbying firm.

The Stutzman Group will specialize in "communication, policy, and development for businesses and associations," according to a news release from the group.

"Based in Northeast Indiana, The Stutzman Group will provide expertise to companies trying to navigate the sometimes treacherous waters of local, state, and federal government," the news release stated.

Asked whether The Stutzman Group will become a registered government lobbyist at the state or national levels, Bryan Prisock, Marlin Stutzman’s executive assistant, said in an email that lobbying "will be a component" of the firm but that only he and Zach Rodgers will do lobbying work "as it becomes needed."

Prisock was special assistant for Stutzman when he was in the U.S. House, and Rodgers was Stutzman’s veterans affairs liaison. Stutzman, a Republican from Howe, represented northeast Indiana’s 3rd District in the House from late 2010 until this year.

The fifth member of The Stutzman Group is Bill Davis, who, like Stutzman, is a former state legislator and was district director for Stutzman in 2015-16. Davis is vice chairman of the 3rd District Republican Party.

"Christy and I have always had the desire to help others when and where we could," Stutzman said in the news release. "With the launch of The Stutzman Group, we hope to help a variety of organizations and businesses grow and expand and by so doing, help Indiana continue to shine on the national stage."

In recent weeks, Stutzman has been named president of Wishbone Medical Inc. in Warsaw and chief executive officer of Crystal Valley Power Equipment in Middlebury. Stutzman and members of his family recently acquired Crystal Valley Power Equipment.

Miss something, Mr. Mayor?

Residents who tuned into Mayor Tom Henry’s State of the City address Wednesday may have noticed the proposal to redevelop the General Electric campus near downtown wasn’t included in the speech.

That doesn’t mean Henry or his administration has reservations about the project, spokesman John Perlich said Thursday. It simply boiled down to a matter of timing, he said.

"We have to have a cutoff point for material to enable us to time the speech, practice the speech and have materials in place to meet television timing and PowerPoint presentation," Perlich said in an email. "It wasn’t a slight to the GE campus proposal. In fact, we’re optimistic that the development will complement our commitment to being a point of destination for jobs and economic development."

The 31-acre redevelopment project was announced Monday, with an initial cost estimate of $300 million. Cross Street Partners, of Baltimore, is handling the development.

More DC hires

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has hired as her chief of staff a woman who had led the staffs of two Indiana congressmen, including former northeast Indiana representative Mark Souder.

Renee Hudson most recently was chief of staff for Rep. Todd Rokita, R-4th, for whom she has worked since 2014. Hudson is married to Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C.; as congressional staffers, they wed the same day in 2010 that her then-boss, Souder, R-3rd, resigned from his House seat after admitting to an extramarital affair with a member of his Indiana staff.

Renee Howell, as she was known then, had been Souder’s chief of staff for seven years when she confronted him after reporters inquired about rumors of the affair. She and Souder then discussed "the mechanics" of his public admission and resignation, and Howell reported the situation to House Republican leadership, Journal Gazette Washington Editor Sylvia Smith reported in May 2010. Souder resigned soon after.

Hudson later became chief of staff for then-Arizona representative Ben Quayle, whose father, former Vice President Dan Quayle, represented northeast Indiana in the House in the 1970s.

In a statement issued after Hudson joined Conway’s staff last week, Rokita said Hudson’s "intelligence, political instincts, sound advice, and years of dedicated public service will be an invaluable asset for the administration as it works to make America great again."

The Washington Post reported Friday that by hiring her own chief of staff, Conway "is asserting and perhaps growing her influence in the White House, where a coterie of top advisers have been competing for (President Donald) Trump’s ear and over the shape of his agenda."

Call a legislator

Ever have the urge to reach out and call your favorite, or not-so-favorite, elected official – but were too shy to pick up the phone?

The Allen County Democratic Party has an answer: an event Monday night that promises to teach attendees in less than an hour how to make effective phone calls to legislators.

"Call the Halls" from 6 to 7 p.m. Monday at Democratic headquarters at 7301 Decatur Road will be led by Rachel Blakeman, an attorney who is a communications professional and member of Mayor Tom Henry’s staff.

The session is billed as a way to follow up on attending one of the rallies and protests that recently greeted recent political changes by taking action, but is open to anyone. Participants will identify issues important to them, craft a message and deliver it by the end of the hour.

"Just bring your phone," the invitation reads.

Dave Gong and Rosa Salter Rodriguez of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at or Niki Kelly at An expanded Political Notebook can also be found as a daily blog at