Bosma to re­move Turner from lead­er­ship post af­ter scan­dal

Post-Tribune - - State - BY TOM LOBIANCO

IN­DI­ANAPO­LIS — In­di­ana Rep. Eric Turner is los­ing his House lead­er­ship role be­cause of “ir­rec­on­cil­able con­flicts” aris­ing from his use of his public of­fice to ben­e­fit his fam­ily’s nurs­ing home busi­ness, House Speaker Brian Bosma an­nounced Fri­day.

An As­so­ci­ated Press in­ves­ti­ga­tion ear­lier this year found that Turner had mil­lions of dol­lars on the line when he lob­bied Repub­li­can col­leagues on leg­is­la­tion that would have banned the con­struc­tion of new nurs­ing homes. Main­street Prop­erty Group doc­u­ments ob­tained by the AP showed that Turner and other own­ers made mil­lions through nurs­ing home con­struc­tion pro­jects.

Law­mak­ers ul­ti­mately killed the leg­is­la­tion, and a House Ethics Com­mit­tee re­view of Turner’s ac­tions found no wrong­do­ing.

But Bosma said Turner’s ef­forts on the leg­is­la­tion were trou­ble- some and an­nounced that he would re­move Turner from lead­er­ship fol­low­ing Novem­ber’s elec­tions.

“Any in­volve­ment in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process, whether in public de­bate or through pri­vate dis­cus­sions with fel­low elected of­fi­cials, pre­sented an ir­rec­on­cil­able con­flict,” Bosma said in a state­ment. “Turner should have re­cused him­self en­tirely from in­flu­enc­ing the mat­ter in any way given the per­sonal fi­nan­cial stake in­volved.”

Main­street — which is owned by Turner, his fam­ily and a small group of other in­vestors — builds nurs­ing homes through­out In­di­ana. Law­mak­ers, spurred by con­cerns raised from other nurs­ing home own­ers that the mar­ket was be­ing flooded, con­sid­ered ban­ning new con­struc­tion.

Turner didn’t dis­close the ex­tent of his fi­nan­cial in­ter­est ei­ther in public fil­ings or when lob­by­ing his House col­leagues.

The Turner busi­ness model in­cluded sell­ing homes to a Cana­dian com­pany run by his son, Zeke Turner, at siz­able prof­its. Main­street ex­ec­u­tives an­nounced ear­lier this month that they were sell­ing the Cana­dian com­pany to an Ohio-based real es­tate com­pany for $2.4 bil­lion.

The sale reignited calls from crit­ics — in­clud­ing Turner’s Demo­cratic op­po­nent in the Novem­ber elec­tion, Bob Ash­ley — for a new ethics in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Turner did not ad­dress his in­ter- est in the com­pany or ex­press any dis­ap­point­ment in a sparsely-worded state­ment Fri­day.

“I serve at the plea­sure of the Speaker of the House and re­spect his de­ci­sion for the next term,” he said. “I look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing as a mem­ber of the In­di­ana House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and serv­ing the cit­i­zens of my district.”

Democrats, in­clud­ing Ash­ley and Demo­cratic Party Chair­man John Zody, praised Bosma’s de­ci­sion. But Zody added that it does not ad­dress what he said is an over­all “cul­ture of cor­rup­tion” at the State­house.

Bosma said he had con­sulted with House and Se­nate law­mak­ers and would be push­ing for ethics re­forms in the up­com­ing ses­sion.

“I have no doubt the House Ethics Com­mit­tee re­view of this mat­ter was thor­ough and re­sulted in the cor­rect con­clu­sion; how­ever, it also re­vealed sig­nif­i­cant gaps which must be ad­dressed,” Bosma said. “My great­est con­cern is restor­ing the con­fi­dence of the public in their elected of­fi­cials.”


Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero

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