by Brian Howey
INDIANAPOLIS – With Indiana House Democrats not showing up for the people’s business on Wednesday – the first day of the Indiana General Assembly - they are on a collision course with regular Hoosiers, most who wouldn’t even think of blowing off a day of work.
Look no further than a Public Opinion Strategies poll conducted last Dec. 11-13 for the Indiana Realtors that revealed 68 percent do not approve of the five-week Democratic walkout last year. As pollster Gene Ulm notes, “Walk out at your own risk.”
Which brings me to the state’s “chief financial officer,” Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock. An analysis of Mourdock’s official functions in office reveal that since January 2010 when he began his reelecton campaign, he has attended only 34 percent of the meetings of boards he either presides over or is a member. The balance of funds involved with these boards is documented to be $1.537 billion.
This compares with 53 percent attendance of various boards from February 2007 when he took his initial oath of office to Dec. 31, 2009.
Mourdock was reelected to a second term in November 2010, was sworn in for a second term in January 2011, and then announced his challenge to U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar on Feb. 22, 2011. He has spent much of 2010 and 2011 campaigning for reelection, running for the U.S. Senate, or training for the Chicago Marathon. Mourdock has been a serial candidate, running 11 times for various offices since 1988.
Lugar missed only four of 235 votes in the Senate in 2011 and has a 98 percent lifetime voting record. When Lugar ran for president in 1995 he missed 26 votes, or 4.24 percent, and had a 96 percent attendance record. In 1996, he missed four votes (1.3 percent) and had a 98 percent attendance record while actively campaigning in Iowa, New Hampshire and a number of early primary states.
U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, the presumed Democratic nominee for the Senate seat, did not miss a vote out of 814 taken from Jan. 5 through Oct. 27, 2011.
Of the 122 board meetings that have occurred through November, Mourdock has attended just 42, according to a study of meeting minutes, representing a 34 percent attendance. Of the 24 meetings of the Indiana State Police Pension and Benefit Fund Advisory Board, Mourdock has attended none as the sole trustee since January 2010. Between 2007 and 2009 Mourdock attended four of 53 meetings and just two of 19 meetings in 2009, when he made international headlines after filing a challenge to the Chrysler bankruptcy and proposed merger with Fiat in the summer of that year. Mourdock attended two board meetings during the Chrysler case deliberations, but the minutes of the board make no mention of the case.
On May 19, 2009, without Mourdock’s presence, the State Police Pension Board heard information on the treasurer’s new policy prohibiting state investments in companies receiving federal stimulus funds.
At a special meeting on Feb. 17, 2009, the minutes indicate that it was suggested the board look into investment strategies during the third quarter of 2009 due to the long-term impact of the 2008 market dive.
Mourdock has also missed all seven meetings of the Indiana Arts Commission Cultural Trust Fund Administrative Board, all four meetings of the Indiana Grain Indemnity Corporation, and all three meetings of the Financial Assurance Board. According to board member Bill Davis, the board frequently has not met due to lacking a quorum.
Mourdock has attended only one of 18 meetings of the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, where he was selected by Gov. Daniels to be the vice chair. From 2007 to 2009, Mourdock attended 13 of 35 meetings or 37 percent of the time.
On the Hoosier START board, Mourdock attended one of six meetings since 2010, compared to 11 of 13 from 2007 to 2009.
Mourdock has attended just seven of 18 State Board of Finance meetings for a 39 percent rate since 2010, compared to 18 of 21 meetings he attended from 2007 to 2009. Former Treasurer Marge O’Laughlin told me she never missed one of these meetings and restricted her campaigning to the evenings.
When Mourdock is chair or secretary/investment manager, his attendance improves. As chair, he attended five of six Indiana Education Savings Authority Board meetings since January 2010, and all 14 of those meetings between 2007 and 2009. He has attended all eight meetings as chair of the Wireless Enhanced 911 Advisory Board; all 12 of the Indiana Board for Depositories; and all 35 Indiana Bond Bank boards, where he is chair.
When Mourdock is not chair or secretary of a board, he has a 19% attendance record since 2010.
“Treasurer Mourdock has chosen to designate a member of his staff who is either a subject matter expert or who manages the day-to-day affairs of that particular board’s funds as his designee,” spokesperson Ian Slatter explained.
There’s an old saying: When the water hole shrinks, the animals act differently. For Mourdock, the behavior changes when the campaign trail beacons.
(The columnist publishes at www.howeypolitics.com. Contact Howey at