Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Panel Parses Turner's Answers ; House Ethics Committee May Rewrite Its Rules

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Panel Parses Turner's Answers ; House Ethics Committee May Rewrite Its Rules

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS - Ethics rules for Indiana House members and the way state lawmakers disclose financial interests could change following a hearing over the actions of a Republican lawmaker. No conclusions were drawn Wednesday during an ethics hearing over House Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner's role in the failure of a ban on construction of new nursing homes to pass during this year's Indiana General Assembly.

Turner, a Cicero Republican, spoke to a private meeting of House Republicans about the proposed construction ban, according to written testimony submitted for Wednesday's meeting of the House Ethics Committee.

The Associated Press has reported that Turner, an investor in his son's nursing home development company, lobbied the caucus against the construction ban and that he stood to lose millions of dollars if the ban had passed.

The Associated Press reported last week that Turner has earned more than $8 million through his ownership stake in Mainstreet Property Group, which builds nursing homes, and that he stood to lose more than $4 million if a construction ban passed the Legislature this year.

Documents obtained by the AP show that Turner owns a 38 percent stake in Mainstreet Property Group through another company. Mainstreet, which is operated by his son, builds nursing homes throughout the state and then sells them to a Canadian company, Health-Lease, which was founded by Turner's son.

Turner did not attend Wednesday's hearing and was represented by his lawyer, Toby McClamroch.

House Speaker Brian Bosma asked the House Ethics Committee, whose membership includes three Republicans and three Democrats, to review Turner's actions and also consider whether changes were necessary to the House's ethics rules and the legislature's economic interest disclosure form.

On Wednesday, the committee reviewed Turner's answers to a series of questions members had asked about his business interests and his actions in the 2014 legislative session. The questions were answered under oath. The committee will meet next week to discuss an advisory opinion and the conclusion of its review of Turner's actions.

"We tried to get to the bottom of this and cover every base in terms of what happened," said committee member Clyde Kersey, D- Terre Haute. …

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