It was supposed to be a fairly easy comeback attempt. Evan Bayh, the darling of Indiana Democrats, decided he wanted to return to the U.S. Senate this year after refusing to run for re-election in 2010. Worried that his re-election chances were in doubt, Bayh backed out of facing Indiana voters six years ago. The move resulted in former Sen. Dan Coats capturing the seat for Republicans. But in an odd decision, Bayh skipped the Indiana senate primary this year, opting instead to muscle out former Congressman Barron Hill, who had spent months building a ground game in preparation for facing off against the eventual GOP nominee.
But while Democratic Party leaders in Indiana aided Bayh’s successful effort to push Hill out of the race, whether or not that was a good pragmatic decision remains to be seen. As polls show Congressman Todd Young, the Republican nominee, closing to within a single percentage point of Bayh, a series of negative stories have rocked the comeback effort.
On Tuesday, the Indianapolis Star pointed out that Bayh’s campaign was not honest about his use of taxpayer-funded travel to set up interviews that netted him a cushy job once he left the Senate. Amazingly, the paper laid out the direct contradictions between newly learned facts and Bayh’s previous explanation of them, but stopped short of explicitly stating the obvious: Bayh’s campaign lied and covered up the truth to protect the former senator.
“Bayh landed a lucrative job with private equity giant Apollo Global Management shortly after leaving office in January 2011. He had in the months prior worked against a tax increase on carried interest and a provision of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform act that would have hurt the bottom lines of companies like Apollo.
“The timing of the new job prompted IndyStar to ask Bayh’s campaign about a half dozen taxpayer-funded trips Bayh took to New York City during the last half of 2010. The flurry of travel was unusual for Bayh — he hadn’t used taxpayer money to travel to New York City since 2002.
“In response to IndyStar’s inquiries, the campaign said in early September that Bayh didn’t meet with anyone from Apollo during those trips.
“Turns out, that wasn’t the case.”
Bayh sat on the Senate Banking Committee.
The conflict of interest between some of the votes he cast in the Senate during his final year in office and his subsequent private sector employment was first reported by the Associated Press late last week. Comparing a copy of Bayh’s schedule from his final year in office to various votes he cast and numerous boards and employment opportunities that came his way once he left office, the AP was able to find Bayh staying at the home of a wealthy future employer in the banking industry and meeting with board members of entities that would go on to add him to their board of directors once he left office.
Apollo Global Management has paid Bayh $2,038,152.05 since 2015 according to recently filed ethics disclosure reports reviewed by Politico. The publication also found that Bayh made around $1.76 million by serving on various boards, including the board of Marathon Petroleum Corporation, with whom he was in talks during his final year in office. Votes Bayh cast in that final year also benefited Marathon’s interests.
During the 2009 debate over ObamaCare, which Bayh ultimately voted in favor of, liberals were upset that Bayh was less than supportive of a so-called public option. They blamed the timidity on Bayh’s wife, who has sat on various boards in the health industry including the board of a prominent insurance company.
Conflicts of interest aren’t the only problems that have bedeviled Bayh this cycle. While serving as Indiana’s secretary of state, Bayh approved of the Klu Klux Klan’s incorporation as a non-profit group in the Hoosier state in 1987. “By incorporating and getting the paperwork to where Mr. Bayh has signed it, this designates that we are a legal organization,” a KKK spokesman told an Indiana newspaper the following year.
Shortly after announcing he was going to run for Senate again, it become public that Bayh’s Indiana voter registration had twice lapsed to an “inactive” status because Bayh hadn’t verified that he still lived at an Indianapolis address. A registration moving to “inactive” is the first step in it getting removed from the voter roles.
An achilles heel for Bayh is his long association with Hillary Clinton, who is behind in polls in Indiana and not terribly popular with voters there. Back in 2007 amid the brutal slugfest between Clinton and Obama, Bayh endorsed Clinton and then went on to campaign with her in Indiana during the hard-fought primary. It was even speculated that Bayh would be Clinton’s VP pick. But with Clinton’s poll numbers so low in the state, tying Bayh to Clinton in the final month of the election could prove to be a good strategy for GOP Senate candidate Todd Young.