Wikinews interviews Indiana State Senator Mike Delph
Saturday, March 29, 2014
|This is an edited transcript of a Wikinews exclusive audio interview.|
On Wikinews, we have an exclusive audio interview with Indiana State Senator.
Today is Thursday, March 27, 2014. I am Chad Tew and we are here inradio studios with my journalism students and recording from the campus of the .
This is Wikinews.
State Senator Mike Delph is a who represents the northwest side of and , as well as , Indiana.
After being selected to finish former State Senator J. Murray Clark's final term in 2005, Mike Delph has served two full terms for District 29 in the. He is currently facing re-election this fall. His opponent is likely to be JD Ford, who is running as an openly gay candidate.
Senator Delph has also been considered in the past for Arizona-style legislation on immigration and his support of traditional marriage.but he declined to run, and he has already been mentioned in the Indiana media as a possible candidate for any potential opening in the in 2016. He is widely known across the state of Indiana for both his
During the legislative session this year, Senator Delph made what is known in Indiana as the "tweet heard around the world". The tweet announced the defeat of a proposed amendment to the Indiana State Constitution in a form that would have banned civil unions. Senate leaderpunished Delph because of this tweet on the grounds that it concerned confidential caucus information. What exactly took place in that Republican caucus and between Senator Delph and Senator Long is currently unknown to the public.
((WN)) Tew: State Senator Delph good morning and welcome to Wikinews.
- Mike Delph: Thanks for having me professor.
Interview (part I): A biographical portrait
((WN)) Chad Tew: Here with our first question is Ashely Jones Phillips. Jones Phillips: Hi! Good morning, Senator Mike Delph. My name Is Ashley Jones-Phillips. The first question that I have is, I wanted to know if you can tell me a little bit about your parents, where are you from, and where were you were raised and born?
- Mike Delph: Sure, I grew up here in Carmel, Indiana. I was raised by my mother. My parents were divorced for most of my upbringing. While my father was on leave from his business — or actually helping his dad, my grandfather, with one of their plants out east — I was born in , , just outside of . So I was actually born in Boston or just outside of Boston but raised in by my mother. I have three brothers. I shared a bedroom with my little brother John. And my two older brothers Jamie and Stephen were with us as well.
((WN)) Jones Phillips: Can you tell where you went to school at?
- MD: I went through the . And I’m a graduate of — in 1988. And then I went on to college at . And ultimately received four degrees from Indiana University.
((WN)) Tew: And those degrees are in ...?
- MD: I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech communications with minors in Spanish, biology, and an emphasis in chemistry. I have a Masters in Public Affairs with an emphasis in international relations — or comparative international relations — and public finance. I have a Masters of Science in Environmental Science, focused on applied ecology. And then I have my law degree at the at Indianapolis.
((WN)) And lastly I want to know, how did you become interested in politics?
- MD: I kind of backed my way into politics. I had served as a page for Indiana State Senator . And my mom and dad went to high school with Congressman Burton at . We had a family friendly connection there. But I really didn't grow up in politics. I didn't serve in student government — except one little stint when I was a graduate student at Indiana University. I served one summer stint as a representative from the . But I really wasn't involved in politics.
- After I was getting ready to graduate from graduate school, I had planned to go to work for as a bond analyst. About that time, I had made contact with Congressman Burton, who was going to become the first Republican chairman, to chair a Congressional committee in over 60[?] years from Indiana. And we got to talking and eventually that led to a job offer for me to come and join him on his personal and professional staff out in working on Capitol Hill. So I worked out of the personal office and then the professional staff of the , primarily focusing on . I also did some work with the , which at the time was chaired by Congressman from .
((WN)) Hello Senator Delph, I’m Sara Behnke. We were wanting to know about your family and your work outside of the Indiana Senate.
- MD: My family is: My wife is Beth. She is from Zionsville. She grew up in Zionsville and graduated from . She is the daughter of Russ and Nancy Frankel and has one brother, who is younger, named Matthew. My in-laws are now constituents of mine, which is nice because my mother-in-law could put my yard sign in her yard without confusing her neighbors.
- I have five daughters. My oldest daughter is 19 and a freshman at here in Indianapolis. She's our first proud graduate of Delph Academy for Girls. She did really well her first semester of college, making the Dean's List. So mom and dad were obviously very ecstatic there. I have a 17-year-old daughter, who just turned 17. She told dad that she wanted a boyfriend for her birthday, and so I went out and got a little stuffed animal of the good guy from [a film], which I said you can take to bed with you every night and cuddle with. So her name is Evelyn. I have a 14-year old named Anna, a 10-year old named Emma, and my 7-year-old, who will probably — well her name is Lilly, that she believes she will be the next of rock music. And she and I play my guitar and sing every night. So that's a little bit about my family.
- I work as general counsel for a second-generation family-owned business based out of , Indiana, named CarDon & Associates. And we are in the business of senior housing and long-term care, post-acute care, nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and independent living facilities.
((WN)) Behnke: We understand that you and your wife home educate your children. How did you decide to home educate your children?
- MD: Well the name of our home school is the Delph Academy for Girls. Originally my 19-year old was part of the Carmel school system and attended Carmel Elementary and had a real challenging year, her first grade year. We were actually told by her first grade teacher that she would have a hard time graduating from high school and that college was not in the cards, which obviously was a lot for mom and dad to take with our first grader. We went and had a battery of tests done. And there was a dispute within the school system as to what, if any, learning disabilities that she might have, and what we should do about it. So we finished out that school year and went a little bit into the next, and then we just made the decision as a family that we weren't going to fight the system. We were going to take matters into our own hands and start homeschooling our daughter. Then we just started homeschooling the rest of our kids. It's turned out to be a very big blessing in the life of the Delph family for obvious reasons because our daughter has turned around her academic life in a very positive fashion and is doing very well in college, as I mentioned before.
- Another reason why we homeschool our students, is we teach in our school. And obviously you can't do that in the public school system. Our faith and Christian values are very important to Beth and I and to our daughters.
((WN)) Behnke: What is your religious affliation?
- MD: We are Christian. We are not . That is a falsehood put out on Wikipedia, and I’m not sure where that came from. I think people just assume that if you have a lot of kids that you are Catholic. And there is one nice thing about that, we live right across the street from a very large prominent Catholic Parish called, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and they have a fall festival every year and so it's the one place we can go as a family where people don't give us funny looks because of the number of girls that I have, everybody has a large family in that parish.
((WN)) Hello Senator Delph, I’m Jerrilyn Thompson, and I have a question for you. The , you were awarded that in 2005. And this honorary award is awarded by the Governor. And what did you do to get this honor?
- MD: That was something that I was recommended by former Congressman , who represented the southeastern part of the state. And I had gotten to know Congressman Hill when I was an executive with . We actually brought the school bus throughout his district, especially to his hometown of , Indiana. And we had gotten to know each other, and he found out that I had served as an international election observer with the in in 1996 and then in in 2000. And then he had also learned about my service with Congressman Burton and also here in the state of Indiana, and he was gracious to recommend me for that award. And then Governor , before he left office as our governor, was very gracious to award me the Sagamore of the Wabash.
((WN)) Thompson: Okay, just a few more questions. You had mentioned earlier about the role that Congressman Dan Burton had played in your life, could you please talk a little bit more about that?
- MD: Well certainly. He is somebody that was my boss, I’ve known him for a good chunk of my life. When I was thirteen or fourteen, I served as a page for him. When he was an Indiana state senator. I had volunteered a little bit on his political campaigns but not a great deal. Primarily putting stickers on fire hats in preparation for his parade season.
- But I worked for him from — I want to say — 1996 to 2004. Roughly eight years, give or take. I served as a member of his professional staff when he was chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight. And then I also served as a member of his professional staff, handling a number of different policy areas, including foreign policy and national security policy. I covered agricultural issues and environmental policy forum, given some of my academic background. But primarily in the national security foreign policy area, primarily focused on anti-narcotics and the drug war. I was able to travel — in addition to traveling when I was an international election observer — I was able to travel as a member of his staff to countries like and .
- When I was in Colombia, I got to watch an eradication mission of coca and poppy fields down in Colombia. I also got to work on other cases. There was a new tribes and missionary case that I worked on where there were three men who were abducted by the , and there was no proof of life, and they just basically disappeared. And I was able to work with the families and others in leadership within the to bring that whole issue to closure. They eventually declared the missionaries as being killed by the FARC. But as you can imagine, it was one of those things where the family was in limbo and they just did not know and nobody was trying to find out for them.
- It was a great honor to work as a staff member for Congressman Burton. Probably one of the most thankful points in my time for him was when I helped write, or helped ghost write, the resolution honoring the life of , which was adopted by the Congress. You all probably don't remember, but Mother Theresa died right around the time that died and all of the news coverage at the time was dedicated towards Princess Diana. And Mother Theresa is arguably somebody that had lived more of a Christ-like life than anybody, since .
((WN)) Thompson: Okay one last question from me. What was your father and mother's relationship with former congressman Dan Burton?
- MD: They went to high school together and knew him from their time in high school. And my mother specifically was involved with the when Congressman Burton was involved with the Young Republicans. And they all kind of grew up in politics together. And then she later became a volunteer for his campaign.
((WN)) Jordan Mornout: You ended up losing your first campaign when you sought the nomination for Indiana's in 2002. Of course, your opponents that year were impressive, but can you tell us from your perspective about the dramatic finish to that nomination?
- MD: That is a very sore subject with me, but it's not as sore as it used to be. It's interesting because you guys really... I was kind of surprised with the capturing of the whole flyer deal on the floor, which misled the convention to think that I had willingly dropped out of the race, and my strategy was to win it on the second ballot. I was everybody's second choice. The people that were supporting were supporting him because of their relationship with Sue Anne Gilroy, and they would support me if Todd was not in the race. The people that were supporting were supporting him because he was older and had more experience than I had. But they liked me after they got to know me, and I was their second choice.
- And so I had literally campaigned in all 92 counties for two years of my life, driving around the state of Indiana in my American-made , which became a political issue for part of the race. During that race, Congressman was part of the field for a time. Diana Cordray, the clerk treasurer at Carmel, was in part of the field for a time. was a big part of it. Campaigning against him was like campaigning against . Because we’d go to these southern Indiana counties, and he would autograph basketballs with the starting five in the 1976 Indiana University team. And that was the time that I said I had to do something because he was killing me politically, and so we started putting our name on peanut butter and passing out peanut butter. We said that if peanuts were the food of elephants, then peanut butter was the food of the grassroots of the Republican party, whose symbol was the elephant.
- So we, we ran hard. We ran a strong campaign. And really it was that campaign that created the foundation for my ability to become a senator. But there's no question that that was a hard-fought campaign, and the way that it ended was less than favorable. Literally, the next day I had to get on an airplane to fly to , to do my 2 weeks of army training in the middle of nowhere. And I remember being on a rifle range, and a there was misfire happening, and I looked up to the safety officer on the rifle range and I said, "Was that Richard Mourdock over there?" Obviously, they didn't get the joke. But Richard and I are now friends and get along great.
((WN)) Tew: And, in fact, you were both competing for 's office.
- MD: Well, you’re talking about the United States Senate, this last go ‘round?
- MD: Yeah, at the time I was finishing up my legal studies and kind of transitioning professionally. I was running my own home-based business called MA Advisory Group, which was based upon my grandfather's name of his company, the MA Delph Company, which I mentioned before. And I had thought about that for a little bit. I had been approached by some folks out in Washington, D.C., specifically that I have known for years and that had an interest in me considering that. And it really wasn't a good time for me professionally and in the life of my family. And so it wasn't something that I ever formed a committee or raised money or, started campaigning or reaching out to people to build support. But it did get in the press.
- That led to Richard Mourdock reaching out to me. We had lunch, we talked about the opportunity, and he candidly asked me what I thought the top issues were and I told him, and a lot of what I said he ended up using as part of his platform to run against Senator Lugar. And he ultimately was successful. While that whole thing was going on, my wife and I took a three-week home school trip out to the East Coast, to visit former historical sites to learn more about the founding of the country.
- It's mistaken, in perception, that I have some type of disregard for Senator Lugar. I have very high regard for him and his leadership and specifically his public service. Anybody that serves that long sacrifices a great deal with their family and in their business financially to serve the public. So I have a tremendous regard for him personally and professionally. I just had strong reservations and disagreement with him in matters of public policy and in the direction of some of the issues he was campaigning out in the United States Senate. But there's no question that he was a strong figure in Washington, D.C.
((WN)) Tew: Let's pause for a brief identification.
Interview (part II): Controversy over the proposed marriage amendment
((WN)) Chad Tew: This is Wikinews. It is March 27, 2014, and we are here in the radio studio of The Edge speaking to Indiana State Senator Mike Delph by telephone. Here with our next question is Justin Law.
((WN)) Law: Senator Delph, your opposition to same-sex marriage and your public expression of love for your brother Stephen has us wondering about how you reconcile what seems to some as contradictory stances. Could you explain to us your philosophical stand on homosexuality and support of traditional marriage?
- Mike Delph: Sure, I come to my support of all of the traditional family values from my Christian convictions and my belief in the authenticity and reliability of The Bible. My faith tradition teaches me that is one in a number of sins that's listed out in the Bible, and so that's why I have an opposition to anything that institutionalizes, or legitimizes, a given sin.
- The reconciliation of the contradiction that you point out is really "love the sinner, hate the sin" type deal. You know, my brother, Stephen, is my older brother. He's had a very tough life, and we’ve been through a lot together. And you can't go through life together and experience things as a family unit. We just experienced, for example, last year the death of my father and the death of my grandmother, both of whom were close to each one of us. That was something that we went through together. You can't go through life, and go through experiences, with things like that without having love for one another, a love as brothers. And so I do love my brother. I support my brother. I support his right to be a human being, as well as I do all human beings and to live his life. And I don't tell him how to live his life. And I don’t tell him what to do, or where to go, or who to be friends with. I feel like I respect my brother; but I don't, as I’ve mentioned to the media before, I don't support the lifestyle of homosexuality because it is contrary to my Christian convictions.
((WN)) Tew: Senator, your brother said on the air that you had set him up on a date. And you denied that. Could you just briefly talk about this?
- MD: Certainly, I’ve never set my brother up with anybody nor have I done anything ever to promote his gay lifestyle. I have friends that I went to college with that I have suggested could be friends with my brothers — several of my brothers quite candidly — and in this case, I had a friend from college, who at the time had recently told me that he was gay. And my brother, I think, mistakenly made the connection that by me introducing him to a friend of mine who is gay that somehow there was more to it than that. My brother Stephen is not used to talking to the media and knows that he misspoke when he made that characterization. I love my brother. And we have reconciled that misstatement. But never in my lifetime have I done anything to go contrary to that Christian conviction and that belief that I have on that lifestyle.
((WN)) Bobby Shipman: Senator Delph, this is Bobby speaking now. HJR-3 — the proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage and civil unions? You said it was the best environment right now. Why is this the right time for HJR-3?
- MD: Well, in order for a constitutional amendment to be adopted you have it to go to a legislative body, pass the House and Senate. Then you have to have an election and you have to have the new legislative body take up the exact same language and pass the House and Senate. And so from a procedural standpoint if it didn't pass in the same form this time the clock gets reset and the process starts over.
- When I surveyed my constituents, and I do an annual legislative survey, over 60 percent of my survey responses suggested that people wanted the opportunity to vote on this issue via referendum this year November of 2014. They did not indicate which way they would vote. So they could have said, "we want to vote on it because we want to reject it and we want to be done with it this year," or they could have said, "we want to adopt it into our constitution." Either way, because of the actions of the leadership of the House and the Senate, my constituents were denied that opportunity to vote and resolve this issue once and for all in November 2014. And when I engaged in this issue the one thing I heard from people across the spectrum on HJR-3 is they wanted the legislature to be done with this once and for all.
- And when I went through in my mind the different courses of action that could get us there I kept coming back to the referendum and I did not see another way that we could bring final closure and resolution to this issue, this very sensitive and difficult issue, without passing it to the people for an up or down vote. Because of the path that we chose, there is going to be pressure to bring this back next year and possibly years beyond that. So the state of Indiana is going to be forced to deal with this issue year in and year out. Which is my fear.
((WN)) Shipman: With the polls in Indiana showing a change in public opinion over the past several years that is more , do you think it's going to be harder to support traditional marriage in the future?
- MD: Well not for me because I am who I am and I support what I support, and I support traditional and Judeo-Christian values. I think if the polling data is accurate, as you expressed it, then the folks that were the opponents of HJR-3 — specifically the folks that were in leadership within Freedom Indiana — were working against their own self-interest. Why do I say that? Well if public opinion has truly changed then it was in their interest to pass this through the legislature and send it to the people themselves for an up or down vote were the referendum would be defeated and the issue would forever be gone and dealt with. And so I think there is some dispute where public opinion is. This is a very sensitive issue. It divides families. It divides political parties. It divides neighbors. Obviously you know about my family, and there is a difference of opinion just with me and brother on this issue. There's a difference between me and my mother on this opinion. There's even a difference of opinion in the Delph household — in the house where I live. And so these are all things that our state and society have to reconcile. But to me the ultimate issue was bringing this whole thing to closure and by denying people the right to vote this November we did not bring this to closure.
((WN)) Shipman: Since the amendment would have had a long lasting consequences on , didn't the process work this time?
- MD: Well some could say that. If that brings the issue to final closure. But having sat in the legislature now for eight years, I think there's going to be pressure to bring this back this next session — some sort of version. And it may be amended to make it tougher. They may put the civil union ban back in it, which then puts it on another two years. And so for me, I don't think the information is going to be any clearer. I don't think the issue are going to be any better understood. To me it didn't make any sense to delay the final resolution of this once and for all. And for me again, the only way that I could see us bringing this to final closure was to have the referendum by the public. And if public opinion has changed, then those that support same-sex marriage worked against their own self-interest by denying the people the right to vote on this in November of 2014. Because if they would have allowed the vote and public opinion had changed, then they probably would have voted the referendum down and that would have been the debate once and for all.
((WN)) Tew: But there is also the that the legislature would have to deal with any kind of decision that's made between now and when they act next.
- MD: Certainly, there is a couple of things at play there. Recently, I think in , they stuck down and then stayed the decision — the Michigan . So there is no question that the federal courts are getting involved. There is litigation that is being filed throughout the country. And specifically in Indiana, I think, there has been four law suits filed challenging the Indiana Statute, which has been on the books since 1986. And so this is a big battle that's going on legally.
- Traditionally, the widely held view is that the trumps the and that in court trump state constitutional law. And so those are all things that have to be reconciled with the public opinion, and with the will of the people, and what they want, and how they view their government, and how they want society to react and deal with these types of issues.
- But there is no question that even if we would have passed the constitutional amendment and even if the public would have adopted it, that that did not prevent a court challenge in federal court.
- Let me just make one more comment... To me though we cannot as a legislative body at the state level of government, live in fear of litigation. We have an oath of office that we take to the that binds all elected officials to the same — except the , who takes a separate oath of office. And that oath of office is to the written Constitution, as written in the Constitution. It has nothing to do with common law, has nothing to do with Supreme Court decisions and stare decisis [ ]. It has to do with the written law, the written constitution. We also take an oath to uphold the .
- And that oath of office is something I take very, very seriously. And that is what should drive us, our own understanding of the Constitution — not any fear of litigation in Federal Court.
((WN)) Devyn Curry: Can you briefly give us your version of the chronology from the time you made the "tweet heard around the world" to the time when you were punished for the tweet.
- MD: I will try to do the best that I can. You know the irony in all of this is that HJR-3 was really not my issue. I had found through interaction with the governor's staff that the governor [ ] was pretty displeased with what was going on the legislature, particularly in the House of Representatives. He could not understand how a super majority House and a super majority Senate could not get this issue to the voters. He spoke in favor of HJR-3 and in a "State of the State" address and then in an additional follow-up interview with political reporter Jim Shella — WISH-TV is at channel 8, our affiliate in Indianapolis. And so I was trying to help them behind the scenes. I worked with , who had told me that Senator [David] Long had wanted to control that process and have Senator introduce the amendment on the floor that would restore the second sentence so that we could adopt the entire amendment and send it to the voters.
- For me though, if you go back and look at my press conference, I pretty methodically laid out the chronology of why I thought that Senator Long and others had taken the issue into their own hands in order to really kill the issue for the session. And when I had met with them before learning the concerns of the governor, I had met with Senator Long and Senator YouTube in detail — If you take the thirteen Democrats and assume that they are all going to vote no, it only takes thirteen more Republicans to vote no with the Democrats. And so the mathematics works against conservative Republicans on the Senate floor. And I think all those things, in addition to other things, factored into Senator Long's decision to do what he did. , and we were asked — because we were members of the Judiciary Committee — to do a whip count on the Judiciary members to find out if there was support to reinsert the second sentence and if there was support to pass HJR-3 to pass out of the committee. At the time, we were told that the resolution was going to go to Judiciary Committee. And then when we did the whip count, we found support to restore the second sentence, and then pass it out of committee. After that, Senator Long made the decision to not send it to Judiciary but rather to his own Committee, Rules Committee, and then he made the further decision that he wasn't going to allow any amendment. And then he was going to pass the resolution to the floor without amendment. Which if you look at the numbers, the mathematics — and again I go through all of this in my press conference, which is on
- Now in terms of the tweet when I was trying to help Senator Kruse. I had started my own whip count and I was stuck on fifteen solid Republican votes to agree on the floor to reinsert the second sentence. Well I needed twenty-six. If I didn't have twenty-six, it wasn't going to happen because of the math with the Democrats.
- And so we had caucus, I can't tell you what was discussed or said or done in caucus, but because I had filed my amendment — because at the time I wasn't positive that an amendment was going to be filed. In checking with the legislative services agency, and with the Senate majority attorney's office, I went ahead and filed an amendment to make sure that we would meet a deadline so an amendment could be filed. I did that knowing that I was stuck at fifteen votes. And so there was media interest as to whether or not I was going to call my amendment and what was going to happen. We were on the senate floor and this was after the caucus meeting. Within minutes of Dennis Kruse calling HJR-3 for second reading — and that's when I put out the tweet saying there wasn't support for me to call my amendment and that the second sentence was dead for the session of the General Assembly.
- When I did that, I did that to satisfy inquiry from probably over half a dozen different media outlets that were going to ask me or had asked me what I was going to do. Rather than have the same discussion, six to ten different times, I just wanted to handle it at once during . But what I didn't anticipate at the time was that everybody under the sun would retweet that tweet and I would start to trend nationally. At that point, this evolved into a whole other level of newsworthiness.
- Senator Long came back on the floor and asked me about it and I explained what I did and why. At the time, I thought things were resolved between the two of us. It was only later that he had a media availability and he kind of blasted me and accused me of leaking a caucus confidence that we really started to get into it within the press.
- And at that point in time, I made the decision to hold my news conference and to vote against HJR-3, if he would not allow the second sentence to be restored. I did that for a couple of reasons. One of which was I had passed out a legal memorandum from a very reputable source out of Washington D.C. that had told us that without the second sentence, our amendment had no legal consequences. So we were basically passing a statement that had no legal significance. And for me, given how divisive this was and how draining it was in terms of energy and what not, it didn't make any sense to me to pass something for political purposes that wasn't going to have any legal consequence.
- And again, I talked about all of that in my press conference on YouTube. If you haven't seen it, it will take thirty minutes of your life to watch it. It was carried live on the news affiliate in Indianapolis and I walked through methodically the chronology of events at that press conference.
((WN)) Curry: What were you trying to convey to the public through the media at the press conference?
- MD: I was trying to bring to light what was going on with the process. And I was trying to bring to light my reasoning and thinking as to why I felt like this was a set up job from the beginning and that there was no intention to get this to the people. And how Senator Long had controlled the process. And how every step of the process the decisions that he made gave evidence to what I was saying that the people were never going to see this amendment at the ballot box in November of 2014. I also felt like it was newsworthy that one of the most conservative members of the Indiana State Senate was going to vote against the marriage amendment because it had no legal consequence. I wanted to explain to the public and to my constituents why a guy that is a strong supporter of traditional Judeo-Christian values, was not going to support the marriage amendment. Because I didn't believe that the marriage amendment had legal consequence.
((WN)) Curry: Senator, did you violate caucus rules of secrecy?
- MD: I did not.
- And the saying that I take great great umbrage with is ... the only way I can fully defend myself would be to go violate caucus protocol and confidence.
- Now I don't accuse Senator Long of lying; that is a little strong. There are some — because what has been said to the media, particularly by Senator Long — that have had the wrong perception that I may have violated a confidence of the caucus. I certainly want to clear up any kind of misunderstanding with my caucus mates. But in no way did I violate a caucus confidence. The tweet that I put out was based upon my own information, from my own whip count that I kept on this project. Senator knew about my whip count. Senator Dennis Kruse knew about my whip count. Senator Mike Young knew about my whip count. And so this idea that I violated a caucus confidence is unfortunate, it's wrong, it's untrue, it's misleading, and, hopefully, this will help correct that record.
((WN)) Senator, Chad Tew here. Who leaked the information about your punishment to the media?
- MD: That is a great question because [laughs] — There is another issue over in the House of Representatives about caucus confidence being violated. I don't know if you are following that with the whole nursing moratorium issue —
- But it was interesting because the following Thursday I was called in to Senator Long and there were a couple of other senators, and they brought me in there to tell me what my consequence from this whole event was going to be. And they listed out four different things that were going to happen, and they then told me they were going to go to the caucus and privately tell them what was going to happen. Well, I get home Thursday night, that night, getting ready to have dinner, and I get a call from a Channel 13 affiliate. And they say "Senator Delph, we understand this, this, this and this are going to happen to you because of violating caucus protocol. Do you have a comment?"
- And I just find it grossly hypocritical and somewhat ironic that there would be a violation of caucus protocol to leak out this punishment that I have while they're accusing me of this. It's really all very silly.
- Since I have been in the legislature for eight years, I have been a champion of transparency and accountability. And I think the public has the right to know what their elected officials are doing on behalf of them and in some cases against them. And in this case, I did not violate a caucus confidence, and I was trying to advocate for my constituents, who wanted the right to vote on this issue as reflected in the surveys that they returned to my office. And so I felt like I was doing things to try to advocate on their behalf without necessarily taking a position from their perspective on whether they felt like this should be part of the constitution or not part of the constitution. I was trying to give them their opportunity, which they said they wanted, to vote on this one way or the other.
((WN)) Tew: Concerning your punishment, you've had a number of disagreements over the years with Senate leader David Long. Does Senate leader David Long serve the Republicans in the state senate or do they serve him?
- MD: Yeah, that is a great question. I like Senator Long. He and I every couple of years will have an issue. The legislative process is not one where conflict can be avoided. When you are in the arena, you are going to have issues, and I have enjoyed serving with Senator Long. But ultimately we the people elect elected officials to serve in the legislative branch of government. And as said, "The are who give and what gives elected leadership and legislatures the legitimacy to make decisions on behalf of the people." And so Senator Long has been elected by the Republican caucus to a position of great public trust — to manage the institutional integrity of the senate. And so he needs to, in my opinion — I have said this to him publicly and privately — to remember it is the people of Indiana that he represents and not just special interests or even the interest of the caucus itself — but it is the public at large. And he has also a responsibility to the institution of the senate.
((WN)) Tew: Thank you, Senator. Let's pause for identification.
Interview (part III): Issues in the fall 2014 election
((WN)) Chad Tew: Mike Delph, a Republican who represents parts of Indianapolis, Carmel and Zionsville is with us this morning for an exclusive interview. It is March 27, 2014, and this is Wikinews. Welcome back, Senator.
- Mike Delph: Thanks for having me professor. One thing I just wanted to add from the last segment. There are a lot of YouTube videos and interviews that I’ve done and I’ve tried to be consistent in the story that I’ve been telling making sure that the truth gets communicated to the public. But when I did my press conference, I very methodically walked through my reasoning for why I believe that the marriage amendment was at least on the Senate side, set up for failure from the beginning. And I also addressed the whole tweet and where the information for that tweet came from. There's been misinformation and misperception that it was tweeted from a caucus meeting. That is a falsehood. It was a tweet that I actually put out, again, directly from the senate floor within minutes of HJR-3 being called down for a second reading, and I did that, again, because there were a number of media requests to explain what I was going to do or not do with the amendment I had filed to restore the second sentence. I would encourage your listeners and your students if they've not done so to go listen to the press conference on YouTube.
((WN)) Rachel Christian: Senator Delph, you have been labeled as a social conservative. Where do you believe you fall on the political spectrum?
- MD: You know, that's a good question. In my intro (Wikipedia: Voice Intro Project) that I read for Wikinews[ ] for the project that the professor and I worked on together, I reference myself as a fiscal and social conservative.
- I kind of consider myself a constitutional conservative. I consider myself very independent-minded. If you look at my last election in 2010, I won my senate district 59 percent to 41 percent. Just two years prior to that, President won the same Senate district 56 percent to 44 percent over . So I think my history has shown an ability to have people who aren't necessarily conservative Republican voters vote for me.
- I try to listen to everybody, anybody in my district who has an issue or concern or wants to talk to me or tell me what they think about anything, always gets my ear. And you can't do this job and be effective doing this job without being shaped by the views of your constituents, some of whom may disagree with your position on a given issue.
- So I do consider myself a full-spectrum conservative, fiscal and social, but more importantly I consider myself a Constitutional conservative.
((WN)) Bradie Gray: Recently, political commentator Brian Howey wrote about your senate district. Is it fair to say that your district is not socially conservative, that your stand on HJR-3 might not been aligned with your constituents, and that the Democrats see your seat as an opportunity.
- MD: Well you will to talk to the Democrat[ ] Party about what they see as an opportunity. I can't speak for them.
- I will tell you again. I survey my constituents every year before we go in session. And I knew that the marriage amendment was going to be something that was going to be debated and considered. I asked them if they wanted a chance to vote on this through the constitutional amendment process via referendum in November 2014. I sent that survey to all registered voters in Senate District 29 and over 60 percent of the respondents said they wanted a chance to vote in November 2014. Again I didn't ask which way they were going to vote — whether they were going to vote yes or no — but rather did they wanted the chance to vote. My position primarily was driven by that piece of information and my desire to try to advocate on behalf of my constituents to bring this whole issue to resolution.
- From a personal standpoint, this issue is very divisive. The media is fixated on it. Very little else was covered because the media was so fixated on it. And to me whether you were for the amendment or against the amendment, there was pretty strong support to being done with it once and for all. And I couldn't figure out a way to bring final closure to this without going to the referendum process to the public. And so I was hoping we could deal with this whole issue in 2014 but others felt differently that were in the leadership. And so we are going to be dealing with this issue on into the future.
- In terms of the ideology of my constituents. I have some constituents who are socially conservative. I have some constituents who are socially moderate. I have some constituents who are socially liberal. The proof is going to be when we run for reelection in November 2014 whether or not this is the driving issue to drive turnout and ultimately render judgement over the totality of my service in the senate.
- Last year, I carried three bills into law. I’ve been known widely as somebody who is a leader on Veterans and military issues. Last year, we expanded contracting opportunities for veterans returning from and . I wrote and carried into law a strong reform in the area of education for high performing schools. I have led efforts in reform for local government reform in Title 36 of Indiana Code. I have been named Legislator of the Year by the . And I have been giving the Distinguished Public Service Award twice, once in 2006 and once in 2013 by the . I’ve been awarded the Mr. Clean Award by for my efforts to promote lobbying reform, and ethics reform, and redistricting reform. I’ve led an effort to change the law in the area immigration reform. And again that was not a Republican or Democrat issue, it was an American patriotic issue. And a lot of my folks that were not a conservative or Republican because of my leadership on this issue supported me in 2010. We feel very good about where we were politically.
- I just actually just had a grassroots campaign committee with my team on Saturday at my house. My 19-year-old daughter Abby, who is a freshman at IUPUI, is going to serve as my campaign manager, and I'm going to teach her how to do this. We have the leader of the at , as well as IUPUI and other leaders from that will all be involved in my grass roots effort.
- Before Thanksgiving, there was some talk that somebody might try to challenge me in a primary. And our grassroots effort, we had moms and volunteers make over 7,000 phone calls to base, Republican voters. We shut that down pretty quick. We have the strongest, best grassroots team in the state senate. I welcome competition. We are going to go out and compete. And we are going to let the voters make their decisions. We feel very good where we are politically.
- From a campaign finance standpoint. We have the most money that we have ever had. We have 180,000 in cash in the bank. I have a business man, a Christian pastor, who has offered to write a check for $25,000 to support me. Another person is going to write a check for $2500. And I suspect if I really tried to raise more money, I could raise a lot more money.
- So again I feel the grassroots, the financial support, the community support will be there for us. But ultimately I serve at the pleasure of the voters. And if they choose that they would rather have somebody else serve them and represent them in the Indiana State Senate, I certainly will respect that decision. But I will never shy away from my core convictions, or my Christian principles, or what I believe in, or what I think the right thing to do is, and I will always act on what I believe is the right thing to do.
((WN)) Casie Mathies: Senator, this is Casie, how important are the business or establishment Republicans in your district and do you stand in danger of alienating them with your stands on HJR-3?
- MD: You know there are some businesses that are in fear of litigation right now because of the whole environment around . There are some churches that will be sued and possibly forced to ordain a relationship and a union that their God rejects. And so there are some businesses that will probably have some concerns but there will be other businesses that will support my position. I think most businesses though, aren't really motivated by this issue in particular. They are just out trying to run a business to make payroll, to grow their business, and I’ve got a strong business-friendly record as delineated by the Indiana and the Indiana . A strong history for promoting economic growth, including our latest bill this year was Senate Bill 1. Where we've given the local government units the ability to phase out the business personal property tax if they so choose to do so, and a gradual further reduction of the corporate income tax.
- One other additional point I want to make. I've also been a leader on corporate transparency reform. Last year, I also carried into law a bill that Governor signed into law before a board of directors meeting of the calling for and requiring more transparency and the economic incentives that we give out to companies that say that they are going to create "X" amount of jobs in exchange for those economic incentives. So bottom line, I think my record in the senate has been very pro-business and pro-job growth and pro-economic development and so I think businesses will look more at that than they will look at HJR-3.
((WN)) Sean Kerchief: Your likely opponent in next fall's election, JD Ford, says he stands for, quote, equality. Do you?
- MD: I’ve not had a chance to meet Mr. Ford. I look forward to doing so. You know, we still have a primary to get through, and I’ll probably reserve my comments until after May. After the candidates have been officially nominated by the voters of each party. But I believe in equality. We do have equality of marriage. We just have not, ever, believed as a society that that translates to same-sex marriage. We have had over two hundred years of social norms and of standing up for traditional Judeo-Christian values and this idea of equating same-sex marriage with opposite sex or traditional marriage is a very new thing in the history and life of Indiana and our nation. And so, any man has the right to marry a woman who agrees to marry him, and any woman has the right to marry any man who agrees to marry her, and that is equal, you know, across all boundaries.
((WN)) Keisha Wright: Senator Delph, What are the political stands that are going to provide the sharpest contrast between you and your likely political opponent, JD Ford this fall?
- MD: Well again, I've not yet had the chance to meet Mr. Ford. I look forward to doing that, and I've not had the chance to be educated on what he stands for, and what his positions are, and I look forward to doing that. But what I'm told, the biographical backgrounds and positions are pretty black and white, night and day, and so I think the voters, for what I've been told without studying the issues on him, will get a sharp contrast.
- You know I’ve served in the Indiana State Senate for 8 years. I spent four years in leadership as an assistant majority floor leader for communications revamping the whole communications process through two communications directors. I've carried a number of bills into law. I've served in business. I've run my own business out of my home. Now I serve for a privately-held company as a general counsel. I've served for a publicly traded company as an executive in their government affairs department, and so I have a lot of business experience, applied experience in the Indiana General Assembly. I’ve also had a lot of family experience raising five daughters as a home school educator.
- I’ve been a leader in the military. I currently am a major in the United States Army Reserve serving in a number of leadership capacities during the course of my military experiences. So I'm very confident and proud of my history, of my record, and I look forward to further communicating that with my voters and Senate District 29. And I also look forward to meeting my opponent after we get through the May primary.
((WN)) Tew: Just a short question. You started your military service in what year?
- MD: June of 2001, I believe.
((WN)) Tew: And you were promoted to major when?
- MD: I was promoted to major on March 23, 2012. And that was also after the whole brouhaha over the military uniform issue with [Lieutenant] Colonel Mejia. I was a company commander for the 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, at the time I was a captain, company commander. And notwithstanding that I was still promoted to major. I think the military almost on a weekly basis to take a leadership position in a unit.
((WN)) Meredith Harris: You have been considered for higher offices. What qualities do you have to offer not only your district, but voters all over Indiana?
- MD: Well, I’ve not actively sought higher office. I enjoy reading about my political future in the press routinely, oftentimes over coffee with my daughters. You know, I love my country, I love my state, I love my neighbors, I love my community, I love my fellow man. I’m very concerned about the direction that our nation's going. In 2008, we crossed a barrier that was not widely reported. That was the first year that our nation started talking about — the difference between revenue and expense on an annual basis — in terms of trillions of dollars. It is mind boggling to me that since 2008 the United States government has added a trillion dollars in national debt each and every year. We are spending our posterity into oblivion. At some point our debt will not be marketable. People won't think it's a good enough risk to invest in and at that point Judgement Day happens.
- And I, you know, am concerned about that because I love my five daughters and I want them to grow up with opportunity. I want them to grow up in economic freedom and to be able to compete and do things and love and live and enjoy life and not have a country on the brink of collapse — of economic collapse. So I'm very outspoken on issues like that and on national security issues and also on nomination issues, and that sort of thing. And because of that, that's led to speculation.
- When the speculation took place regarding Senator and also Congressman , we did have brief discussions with my family, with my daughters, around our kitchen table. Some of my daughters have been character actors, or youth interpreters I should say, at , a live museum here in central Indiana, others have served as members of the Indianapolis Children's Choir. They're all very involved in the home school community and their friends are here. So I told them that if I ran and got elected to federal office, they would either have to move out to Washington D.C., or they wouldn't get to see their dad three nights, at least three nights out of the week. And once I gave them that information, they were unanimous in their opposition to me running for Congress or the United States Senate. Until I get to a point where my family balance can be taken into consideration, I don't anticipate seeking higher office. But I'm always humble and grateful that people consider my record and my views worthy of consideration for such purpose.
((WN)) Tew: Just briefly, senator. Your passage of the local government initiative that would allow governments to merge was very successful in your district, but not successful elsewhere around Indiana. What was it about your district that made it unique in that it decided to merge?
- MD: Well the reform that came from House Bill 1362, which at the time was the most dramatic reform in Title 36, in probably 25 years or more. It allowed for the creation of a government of the people, by the people, for the people subject to the imagination. Whatever the mind could come up with, you could do up to the county boundary. And so in the case of and deciding to dissolve themselves and then enter into a pact with the town of and create the new town of Zionsville, it took vision. It took selfless service because you had two township trustees that had to agree to dissolve their reason for being. Not many elected officials will do something like that. It was a very courageous move by the trustee of Eagle and the trustee of Union Townships to do that. I think part of the problem that we've had in other parts of the state, including and , is that the process and the law has not been adequately marketed and explained to the public and to elected officials. But right now in Indiana Code, you could reform local government up to the county boundary in just about any way imaginable to the mind. The only thing that really is the constraint is the imagination.
- I’m very proud of that. And I'm proud of the fact that the folks in Zionsville took the ball and ran with it. I was honored to work with then state representative , from , who also represented Zionsville. And I represented ... at the time, not Zionsville. It wasn't until afterwards that Zionsville became part of my area.
- Here is one other neat story. The Town Hall chambers in Zionsville is the former church where Beth and I got married in. When we had this ceremony of this dissolution of Eagle and Union Townships and the creation of the new town of Zionsville. It literally happened right where we got married. And I was asked to speak right in the same place where I exchanged my wedding vows with my wife. I got up to speak and I was nervous and stammering a little bit and they're like "Senator is everything ok?" And I'm like, "For some reason, this specific location in the world, I'm in a vortex, and it makes me really nervous."
((WN)) Tew: Thank you, senator. And, let's pause for identification.
Interview (part IV): Conclusion
((WN)) This is Wikinews, and we are back with Senator Mike Delph. I am Chad Tew, and we are here at The Edge radio studios with my journalism students and recording from the campus of the University of Southern Indiana, in Evansville. Our first question will come from Jordan.
((WN)) Jordan Bayes: Hi, Senator Delph, Jordan Bayes speaking. What ever became of the military investigation of you and the soldier who appeared by you at a press conference?
- Mike Delph: Well that was ultimately adjudicated by the military. Colonel Mejia ended up retiring in good standing with the military. At the time I was a captain in the United States Army Reserve, and I am now a major. So I think everybody has moved forward and moved on.
((WN)) Tew: And you were never punished for that, for the record?
- MD: There was a resolution that I had with my commanding general that is private, but there was never anything official other than on my officer evaluation report that denoted the issue.
((WN)) Tew: Yes, and then you were successfully promoted.
- MD: Successfully promoted for major and more importantly I get, I won't say harassed, but a fair number of calls from recruitment and retention people asking me to take leadership of units and to be more involved in the military, as if I have all this extra time on my hands.
- But let me just tell you, on that whole deal. I don't go through life with regrets. I had no regrets for that press conference. The purpose of that press conference was to show Ray Mejia to the world, and how a guy who came from , not knowing the language, not being a citizen, used the path of the military to rise up through the ranks, get an education, learn the English language, and then ultimately become a successful executive with . To me that was a story that needed to be told. Nobody was telling it. Ray Mejia is very proud of his military service, as am I, and he wanted to show off what he had done in the military that was part of his identity and part of his story.
- So we were both supportive of that move, and, you know, as in life, you take positions just like when I did my press conference a couple weeks ago. I decided to do a press conference in the center of the rotunda of the Indiana State House, and I did that going into it knowing there would be consequences. That's part of leadership.
((WN)) Bayes: , who is now serving a 50-year sentence for running a Ponzi scheme in Indiana, was a major donator to Republicans, including your campaign. Former Governor for instance received almost $200,000 dollars. You were the first to give money back donated by Durham in 2011 after he was charged, which was $10,000 dollars. However you kept money donated by after the in 2010. What kind of money do you think should be given back, and what kinds do you think are alright to keep?
- MD: You know, it's interesting, because I got introduced to Tim Durham in, I want to say September or October — I want to say it was October of 2005. It was right before my special caucus or special election for my caucus for the replacement of Murray Clark. Governor Daniels was hosting a fundraising event at Obsidian headquarters, and that was my first introduction to Tim Durham. And then I have a dear friend of mine who went to high school with him down in in . I did not know Tim well. I met him a couple times, but my friend Tim Motsinger — who I'd known through politics and Marion County used to be a deputy with Sheriff's Department for Jack Cottey — encouraged me to reach out to him, and I did on a couple occasions, and he wrote me two checks for $5000 dollars.
- When the whole fair finance deal was coming out, and I started learning about that, the bankruptcy trustee actually sent out a list, or made a list of people that Durham had made contributions to, asking for voluntary returns of that money. Making the argument that it wasn't his money to donate, it was the retiree's money. I was not on that list. I didn't know about the list. When I found out about the news story, I reached out on my own to the bankruptcy trustee, and said, "Hey, Tim gave me $10,000 dollars, I'd like to return it, what do I need to do?" And they were shocked. They couldn't believe it because they were trying so hard to get all this other money that you mentioned back and they were not getting much cooperation. So. Tor me I felt it was the right thing to do. You know, I pray for Tim Durham. I think that all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I also believe only one man walked this Earth without sin and his name was not Mike Delph. And so I felt it was the right thing to do to give the money back, and I did that.
- In the terms of , BP is a great corporate citizen. They made a mistake and immediately went to rectify and restore the ecology of the mistake that they made. And so I’m very proud of BP and I’m very proud for the way that they handled that, and I thought this political of them was pretty shameful. This is a company that provides a lot of jobs, a lot of economic development, a lot of good things to the community. They had a tough time and they immediately used corporate assets and their ingenuity to aggressively address and correct what they had done negatively to the environment. And I felt like they should be applauded and lifted up and not condemned.
((WN)) Dennis Marshall is here with our last question tonight, Dennis —
((WN)) Dennis: Senator you are well known for your support of the single class basketball here in Indiana, why is that such an important issue for you?
- MD: Dennis you're going to make me cry. I love this issue, love it. I grew up in a time that is not, obviously, today, and I just fell in love with Indiana high school basketball. I didn't play basketball in high school myself. I was a football player and I was slow and bulky and that sort of thing.
((WN)) Tew: You were a wrestler, too?
- MD: I actually was a cheerleader for the high school basketball team my senior year.
((WN)) Tew: Senator, were you a wrestler?
- MD: I love basketball, I always have. But when I was growing up I remember watching the state tournament with my grandmother. It was almost like a holiday. We'd play cards and have a cheeseball and you know salami and crackers. We'd bet a dollar a game on the games.
- That was the time when guys like were bringing Plymouth (High School) to the state championship tournament, and and , and Mike and Chris Heineman over at . There was just a tremendous amount of great basketball stories. And then I got to learn about the story of the , of the state championship run that led to the story of [a film]. Then, later on, right before I left and started growing up more after college and graduate school, the story of and [High School] team. These are stories were high school basketball teams would captivate and grab the attention of the entire state. I remember when the with and Lyndon Jones dominated for a couple years.
- And so these are things that are very important and then when they went to this touchy feeling everybody has to have a trophy and a championship multi-class system, it took something away from our Hoosier identity. So it was something that I always felt pretty strongly about.
- When I first got elected to the legislature, my pastor's wife was the executive assistant to the commissioner of the ISHAA, Blake Ress, and she knew how I felt about class basketball. I didn't like it and I wished we'd go back to single class [basketball in Indiana]. But out of unity to my church and not wanting to cause my pastor's wife consternation, I decided I would not do anything or pursue anything. Then she left the IHSAA and then I had an opportunity to interject this multi-facet education proposal. And then I met Bobby Cox, the then commissioner of the IHSAA, and I told him, "I'll table this proposal, but let's see what the public has to say." And he said, "that is a great idea. Let's do some public meetings. Let's go around the state together, let's hold a press conference and tell the world what we are doing, and let's take a vote at every public meeting. We'll give the public a chance that they didn't have at the time when we made this decision.
- I think at the time the IHSAA and Commissioner Cox, in particular, thought that the public would be more allow the lines of multi-class basketball. We probably had 50 to 100 people turn out at every one of our meetings. We even went to former historical up in we went down to several areas in Southern Indiana, we went to . I don't have the list in front of me, so I'm just kind of doing this from memory. I emailed it to Professor Tew. I think the turnout or vote was 68 percent for restoration towards single class basketball.
- One of the real joys of that whole process for me was meeting and going to and meeting the 54 basketball team. They all turned out for that. That was kind of a turning point in our road show. Because up until that point, the turnout was mixed in terms of whether it was single-class or multi-class. But at Milan, it was blowout. Everyone there wants to go back to single class basketball. I toured the Milan high school, and the athletic director tells me to this day he still gets calls from people all over the world wanting to know about Milan and Hoosiers.
- He actually had a guy call him once and say how do I get to the high school, I’m flying in to , and he gave him directions from the Cincinnati airport to the Milan high school so he could come see the trophies and learn more about the history because he had just seen the movie Hoosiers. To me this is something like, just like the puts Indianapolis on the map, we're known as the greatest racing spectacle in world, with the . We are also known internationally for our wonderful single class basketball tournament, which lifts up and extolls the virtues of the underdog and the little guy. When we went to multi-class basketball we lost some of that cultural identity that Indiana was known for. Not only nationally but throughout the world. And I want to try to bring that back.
((WN)) Tew: Thank you Senator. This has been an exclusive interview with Mike Delph. Thank you very much Senator for being with us tonight and speaking to fifteen journalism students and myself...
- MD: Professor, it's been an honor. I really have enjoyed working with you and the University of Southern Indiana through this process. And I really enjoyed talking with your students and answering their questions. I look forward to an ongoing partnership into the future.
This has been an exclusive audio Wikinews interview with Indiana State Senator Mike Delph. To receive the latest news, please visit wikinews.org, presenting up-to-date, relevant, newsworthy and entertaining content without bias. Wikinews is a free service and it is funded by your generous donations. Click on the donate link on our homepage to learn how you can contribute. This recording has been released under the Creative Commons 2.5 License.
- "Indiana legislators vote for state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage" — Wikinews, February 20, 2014
- Tom LoBianco. "Caucus secrecy cloaks major legislative moves" — , March 25, 2014
- Brian Howey. "Delph’s re-election not a foregone conclusion" — , March 6, 2014
- Matthew Tully. "Dan Coats weighing another term in Senate" — , March 4, 2014
- Abdul Hakim-Shabazz. "Social media evolving into powerful political tools" — , March 2, 2014
- Delph gains names recognition in fight with own party" — , February 23, 2014. "
- Tom LoBianco (contributed; Indiana Senate Republicans sanction Sen. Mike Delph over remarks" — , February 21, 2014). "
- Chris Sikich. "State senator Mike Delph of Carmel will not run for Congress in 2012" — , February 8, 2012
- Indiana lawmakers pass immigration curbs like Arizona" — , February 23, 2011. "