The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, September 20, 2016 9:40 am

Lawmaker takes job with firm he supported with vote

Only in the rarefied atmosphere of the Indiana General Assembly is it not a glaring conflict of interest to vote in March to give a company a virtual monopoly and accept a job with the same company in May.

But Rep. Alan Morrison, R-Terre Haute, sees no problem in his new job with Lafayette-based Mulhaupt’s Inc. On a mostly party-line vote, legislators approved a bill that made the security business the only one in the state with authority to certify companies for production of the liquid used in e-cigarettes.

Morrison supported the bill in the last session and another in the 2015 session that – in its wording – requires any company producing e-liquid for sale to be certified by Mulhaupt’s. The law also requires the e-liquid producer to sign a five-year contract with the Lafayette company, which hired Morrison in May as sales consultant for General Alarm Co., a division of Mulhaupt’s. 

Morrison told the Indianapolis Business Journal he doesn’t believe voting in favor of the vaping legislation two years in a row and then taking a job with a division of the company that benefited from those laws constitutes a conflict of interest.

"I sell residential and commercial-grade alarm systems," he told The Indianapolis Business Journal. "I have nothing to do with e-liquids or the monitoring of them or anything like that. To say that I benefited would be more than a stretch."

He told IBJ that since leaving his last job in June of 2015, he "let it be known to any and every person that I worked with, whether that be lobbyists in the hallways, people in Legislative Services Agency (or) people in the business community" that he was looking for a job.

But David Orentlicher, a former Democratic legislator and professor at the Indiana University McKinney School of Law, said the new job itself is "absolutely troubling."

"You shouldn’t be leveraging your public office to get a new job," Orentlicher said. "You’re supposed to be using your position to benefit your constituents."

Hoosiers might not have heard the end of the vaping story. When Mulhaupt’s’ monopoly status in e-liquid certification became apparent, legislative leaders said they would reconsider the law. In addition, the FBI has reportedly questioned two Indiana lawmakers about the law’s origin. An e-liquid producer who opposed the law said he was interviewed by the federal investigators, whom he said told him they were looking at "antitrust and corruption."

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