INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A powerful House Republican secretly lobbied colleagues in the final hours of the 2014 session last week to kill a measure that would have been disastrous for his family's nursing home business.
Rep. Eric Turner lobbied to kill legislation that would have temporarily halted construction of new nursing homes and elderly care facilities, multiple Republicans with direct knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press. Turner's son has emerged as a statewide leader in building such facilities, capitalizing on a surge of retiring Baby Boomers.
The Republicans spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the private caucus meetings during which Turner argued his case.
Turner didn't immediately return a message from The Associated Press seeking comment Monday. And House Republican spokeswoman Tory Flynn was unable to reach him.
Turner's private lobbying marked an about-face from his public actions during the session, during which he regularly excused himself from votes on the measure and stayed quiet through public hearings.
Last year, The Associated Press reported that Turner had pushed a measure to benefit a client of his daughter, who is a Statehouse lobbyist. In light of that, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said last year he'd review how the House handles conflicts of interests.
House ethics rules bar lawmakers from voting directly to benefit themselves, but Turner's efforts last year and this year did not appear to be a violation because they would have benefited his children instead.
Bosma was on vacation and not available for comment Monday, Flynn said.
The stakes are high in the nursing home game. Existing operators, some with older facilities, came to state lawmakers this year seeking to extend a construction moratorium enacted in 2009. They argued that flooding the market with new facilities would draw wealthier patients away and cause Medicaid recipients to be stuck in worsening conditions at the older homes.