Turner Out As House Speaker Pro Tem
The ethics controversy surrounding Cicero Republican Eric Turner has cost him as post as House Speaker pro tem.
The bipartisan House Ethics Committee concluded Turner violated no rules in arguing in a closed-door caucus to kill a proposed nursing-home moratorium, despite his son's ownership of a nursing-home development company.
Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says that was the correct conclusion under existing ethics rules. But he notes the panel recommended tightening those rules, and says he'll author a bill to do so himself in the 2015 session. And Bosma says given the Turner family's billion-dollar stake in the nursing-home industry, including an indirect interest held by Turner himself, Turner should have not only abstained from all votes and public debate, but steered clear of the bill completely.
In a statement, Bosma says he decided "many weeks ago" to replace Turner after six years as his second-in-command in the next session, in the interest of "restoring the confidence of the public in their elected officials." The decision hadn't been disclosed publicly until Turner's Democratic opponent, former statehouse reporter Bob Ashley, made public a letter to Bosma and Ethics Committee members demanding Turner's removal.
Turner issued a statement saying he "respects (Bosma's) decision," and declaring he has "remained committed to serving with the highest integrity."
State Democratic Chairman John Zody says Bosma made the right call, but says it doesn't change what he calls a "pervasive culture of corruption" in the Republican-led House.
The speaker pro tem presides over House debate when the speaker is off the floor.
Turner defeated Sheridan businessman Parvin Gillim in the Republican primary, a week after the ethics panel issued its findings.