INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma is being accused by the watchdog organization known as Common Cause of placing an ethical cloud over the General Assembly after Bosma hired a lobbyist to work on his staff.
Matt Whetstone is a former state representative who has been a lobbyist for the last five years. He is now the parliamentarian in the House of Representatives.
"It raises all sorts of red flags," says Julia Vaughn of Common Cause. "It doesn't pass the smell test and I'm really surprised the Speaker has stepped right into this."
Whetstone left the General Assembly in 2007 to become a lobbyist, working for, among others, the City of Fort Wayne. When he was a lawmaker, Whetstone was the chairman of the House rules committee and that, says Speaker Brian Bosma, is why he was picked for his new role.
The parliamentarian determines the procedures lawmakers must follow.
In a statement to WISH-TV Bosma said, "Whetstone understands the House rules and how to execute them, which is the sole role of the Parliamentarian. He understands the House and it's floor procedures as well as anyone, and is the right selection for the job."
"So he's going to have one leg in the lobbying world and the other leg in the behind-the-scenes-administration of the House of Representatives," says Vaughn. "There's an old saying that you can't serve two masters."
Whetstone has filed paperwork to indicate he is no longer a registered lobbyist. He has also signed a confidentiality agreement but there are competing lobbyists who still worry that his old clients will have an advantage, though you can't get anyone to say that on the record.
Both Bosma and Whetstone were unavailable Wednesday according to a spokeswoman for the House Republicans.
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