The Journal Gazette
Sunday, May 21, 2017 1:00 am

Republicans with eye on Senate heat up their feud

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

“Republicans shouldn't do this to other Republicans,” is the ominous lead to a blast fundraising email Rep. Todd Rokita, R-4th, sent his supporters last week.

He then accuses Rep. Luke Messer, R-6th, of planting a negative story about him in Politico. Messer and Rokita are considering running for a seat in the U.S. Senate next year.

“Messer is attacking me for using my small prop plane to travel Indiana meeting Hoosiers – the same plane I use doing charity work for wounded veterans and sick children. He's questioning my ethics. However, as the reporter notes, I have done nothing unethical and followed all relevant laws,” Rokita said in the email.

Rokita thinks Messer is trying to distract from a recent Associated Press story questioning a legal contract Messer's wife, Jennifer, has with the city of Fishers.

Rokita, though, termed the article as being about Messer's “residency issues – the same type of issues that imploded the campaigns of Dick Lugar and Evan Bayh in recent years.”

The AP article reports the Messers sold their home near Shelbyville and that the congressman is registered to vote at his mother's house in Greensburg.

An official with the Messer campaign said “Rokita has a history of making unhinged comments. These comments are no different.”

Pence forms PAC

Vice President Mike Pence has formed the Great America Committee, a leadership political action committee from which he will provide campaign contributions to congressional candidates.

A statement of organization filed by representatives for the former Indiana governor and congressman was posted Wednesday on the website of the Federal Election Commission.

Bloomberg reported that Nick Ayers, a senior adviser to Pence's campaign last year, will head up the Great America Committee. Ayers told Bloomberg that Pence “wants to support House and Senate members who are helping pass the president's agenda.”

NBC News reported that Marty Obst will run the PAC with Ayers. Obst is a former fundraiser for the Indiana Republican Party who ran Pence's 2016 gubernatorial and vice presidential campaigns and was finance director for Pence's 2012 run for governor.

The Great America Committee also will pay for Pence's political activities, Bloomberg reported. Federal election law allows leadership PACs to accept individual donations of up to $5,000.

Various media wondered whether Pence might be setting up the PAC for a possible presidential campaign in 2020, noting it is rare for vice presidents to have leadership PACs. The speculation is understandable thanks to the rocky start to President Donald Trump's presidency.

“Don't read into 2020 as anything other than his running for re-election as vice president in 2020 and supporting other candidates,” an unnamed source told NBC News.

Daniels awarded Japan's Rising Sun

The government of Japan on Thursday celebrated the conferral of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, upon Purdue President Mitch Daniels during a ceremony at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C.

The award, among Japan's highest honors, is “in recognition of his significant contributions to the strengthening of economic relations and mutual understanding between Japan and the United States.”

Daniels received the award from Ambassador of Japan Kenichiro Sasae and his wife.

According to the office of the consulate-general of Japan in Chicago, during his time as governor of Indiana, Daniels championed the state's business partnership with Japan, welcoming 70 new Japanese direct investments and company expansions and creating thousands of jobs.

Indiana is now home to 280 Japanese companies that provide 58,000 high-skilled, high-paying jobs.

As president of Purdue, Daniels continues to support efforts toward additional partnerships. Purdue's Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships has reported record Japanese-sponsored research awards of nearly $1.8 million in 2016-17 and a total over the past four years of nearly $5 million, including multiple joint research projects with Sumitomo Chemical Co.

“My prior business years of exposure to the Japanese people and their great entre­preneurship convinced me that they could play a central role in Indiana's economic comeback,” Daniels said.

“The mutual prosperity and friendship that flowed from our efforts were one of the great joys of my years in public office.”

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

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