Hypocrisy is never a good look, and never sits well with voters. If you are having to explain your actions to your constituents, you are losing the voters.
That is the position that Indiana Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly finds himself in right now after it was reported that he has not been very transparent about his involvement with his family’s company, and their outsourcing of jobs to Mexico.
Last Friday it was reported that the Indiana senator, up for re-election in 2018, is selling his stock in his brother’s arts and crafts company after The Associated Press reported it manufactures some products in Mexico. Donnelly says he made the decision so it would not be “a distraction from our work to end outsourcing and keep American jobs here instead of shipping them to other countries.”
Even though Donnelly’s brother runs the company, Stewart Superior, the senator previously held positions as a corporate officer and general counsel before winning entering Congress in 2006. Also, the financial ties to the firm have seen a major uptick in earnings paid to the senator from this family business.
Because Donnelly’s investment in the firm was supposedly less than $1,000 before 2013, it was not reported, but starting in his 2013 financial disclosure, the senator reported an amount between $15,000 and $50,000. Even though no increase in investment is reported, the dividends received has steadily grown. In last years filing, Donnelly’s income jumped dramatically in one year, from less than $15,000 to a report showing he earned up to $50,000.
This sudden, large percentage earnings increase, coupled with the news that his family’s company outsources, does not look good for the senator. The senator has been a vocal opponent of outsourcing, yet his family’s company, which he was a part of the management at one point, and still makes money from, is outsourcing.
Donnelly sponsored the End Outsourcing Act, which specifically targets companies trying to outsource jobs to other countries. When Carrier famously announced their plans to outsource jobs to Mexico, Donnelly very publicly called out the American air conditioner and furnace maker, labeling them “unpatriotic.” He also went on to claim their move was strictly to exploit Mexico’s cheaper labor.
“It’s wrong and it has to end. It’s cynical. It’s wrong. It’s unpatriotic. It’s shameful and it’s un-American,” he said.
“The real issue we need to focus on, days before 300 Carrier workers in Indianapolis face layoffs, is how we can keep manufacturing here in Indiana,” Donnelly said, yet Stewart Superior’s website touts the fact that the company’s Mexican factory “brings economical, cost competitive manufacturing and product development to our valued customers.”
The company’s operations manager, Julie Paramo, also admits the business decided to move south of the border five years ago to save money, be more competitive and give their clients a better deal.
“We don’t do it a lot, but our bigger clients need us to bring costs down,” Paramo said.
These facts make it hard for Senator Donnelly to explain to the Hoosier state voters how he has helped keep jobs here in America, as a company he was intimately involved with, and still family owned, is sending jobs out of America.
Donnelly’s anti-trade policies, which take American jobs, sounds a lot like the stances then candidate Trump took, and which helped him win the state by almost 20 points over Hillary Clinton, winning 57-38.
If Donnelly is trying to win over some of those President Trump voters, his latest campaign email will not help him. In a recent mailer, he labels the president, who successfully fought to keep some 800 Carrier jobs back to Indiana, “extreme” and that he’s the Democrat to fight for them. Donnelly seems to be trying to walk a razors edge of getting both hard core Democrat voters and America first, blue collar Trump voters. In the same email, he accuses Trump of taking from the poor and middle class, a tough line to sell considering the president’s consistent demands that Congress cut taxes and repeal, and replace, the unpopular Obamacare.
While it will be a big challenge to label Trump extreme to Indiana voter that is not stopping the Democrat senator from trying, as he tries to contrast himself to the president. “He’ll fight against a plan to cut $9.2 billion in education funding, a bill that would strip 22 million Americans of their health care, and efforts to create huge new tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.”
Attacking President Trump, a candidate whose platform is built on standing up for the poor and middle class, and who has delivered immediate results to Hoosiers, is a risky move, and has not worked out well for Democrats so far. The left is currently 0 for 5 going up against the president.
The senator has also damaged his credibility with voters because of his families outsourcing activities and mysterious increase in profits from the business. If he cannot stop his own family from taking jobs out of the state, it will be difficult to convince voters he is the man to represent their interest. Once the voters trust starts to wane, it is difficult to restore it, especially as a liberal in Republican dominated Indiana.
With the thin margin in the senate, The National Republican Senatorial Committee is on top of this vulnerability in Donnelly’s armor. With statement claiming he is “hypocritically profiting” from his brother’s business and suggesting all profits from the stock sale be donated to helping the families of displaced workers., the Republicans are not holding back.