Before spending taxpayers’ money to fuel his Senate ambitions, Congressman Rokita spent millions more as secretary of state

Congressman Rokita routinely splurges on taxpayer-funded communications in run-up to election campaigns, AP reports; $1.1 million spent since 2011 “dwarfs” rest of IN delegation

INDIANAPOLIS – A new report detailing Congressman Rokita’s use of taxpayer money to promote his political career is just part of a larger pattern of similar behavior that has been growing since his tenure as Indiana’s secretary of state.

Yesterday, the Associated Press described how Congressman Rokita has spent nearly $3 million in taxpayer dollars over the last 12 years on radio ads, campaign mailers and other promotional materials to promote his political career while serving as Indiana’s secretary of state and as a member of Congress. The minimum of $1.1 million Congressman Rokita has spent on taxpayer-funded communications since 2011 “dwarfs” every other member of Indiana’s federal delegation and ranks him among the top spenders in Congress.

Throughout his career in elected office, Indiana Senate candidate Todd Rokita has used apocalyptic language to warn of “out-of-control” government spending… Yet whenever election season rolls around, the Republican congressman has been more than willing to shell out public dollars to tout his efforts in office, according to an analysis of public records by The Associated Press.

Congressman Rokita’s campaign-oriented official office has ramped up the practice again during his current Senate campaign. Recently, Congressman Rokita violated House rules when he spent $27,000 in taxpayer money promoting a veterans event in Kokomo on radio ads in Ohio, where the airwaves bled into GOP voter-rich counties near Fort Wayne.

While the details of the AP’s report are surprising, Congressman Rokita’s behavior isn’t. He’s been engaging in similar if not more extreme behavior since his tenure as secretary of state:

  • In his first term as secretary of state, he spent $1.5 million in state funds to mail information about himself to every registered voter in connection with his re-election bid.
  • In 2009, then-Secretary of State Rokita launched a state-funded $2 million ad campaign in which he himself appeared, drawing criticism that he was using this to raise his profile for an upcoming run for Governor. He denied the claims, questioning why he’d air ads for a campaign three years away — and then ran for Congress instead two months later.
  • Congressman Rokita’s behavior as secretary of state was so blatant that the state legislature wrote an ethics bill that would have prevented him and other statewide office holders from using Indiana taxpayers’ funds to promote themselves in TV ads.
  • Then-Secretary of State Rokita then sought an amendment that would personally exempt him from the bill. The State Senate unanimously rejected that proposal, citing his repeated use of state funds to pursue other elected offices.

“Railing against excessive government spending while siphoning millions in taxpayer money to pay for political stunts is exactly the type of Washington hypocrisy that Congressman Rokita has practiced his entire career,” said Michael Feldman, spokesman for the Indiana Democratic Party. “Congressman Rokita is the worst type of career politician: one who’s been in elected office for 16 years, and for just as long has been treating it as his own personal plaything to advance his political ambitions.”