Politician hired by firm at the heart of Indiana vaping laws scandal
State Representative Alan Morrison believes there is no conflict of interest in taking a job with Mulhaupt’s, the security firm at the very center of the Indiana vaping laws scandal. For the past two years, Morrison has voted in favor of the bill that essentially gives the security firm total power over which vape shops can manufacture e-liquid across the entire state.
Several retailers have filed lawsuits against the state legislature in recent months, and the FBI has even launched a preliminary investigation into the matter looking for signs of possible corruption. Meanwhile, certain political leaders have vowed to rethink the controversial laws at some point in the future, which is little comfort to the over 300 vape shops and retailers currently doing business in Indiana.
Inside the Indiana Vaping Laws
At the center of the controversy lies an obscure rule that all retailers must hire a security firm with very specific certifications. Mulhaupt’s is the only one that fits the bill. Furthermore, the law also prohibits any new vendors from entering the market if they were not already certified by July 1, 2016. As a result, the state essentially passed legislation that creates a monopoly benefitting only Mulhaupt’s.
(Related Article: FBI LAUNCHES PROBE INTO INDIANA VAPING LAWS OVER POSSIBLE CORRUPTION)
Morrison is currently in the midst of his re-election campaign, and he promises to recuse himself from future votes on possible bills which directly or indirectly relate to Mulhaupt’s or the Indiana vaping laws in general. However, many retailers fear that a recusal is simply not enough. After all, Morrison still has the political power to influence the decisions of his fellow lawmakers behind the scenes. Even some of his colleagues agree. Former legislator and professor at the Indiana University McKinney School of Law, David Orentlicher, has publicly stated the following.
“You wouldn’t go out in the hallway and say, ‘I’m having trouble with my mortgage payment’. It’s an indirect way of doing the same kind of thing. You shouldn't be leveraging your public office to get a new job. You’re supposed to be using your position to benefit your constituents.”
Still Morrison remains adamant that no conflict of interest exists. When asked if he would uphold his promise to recuse himself, no matter the consequences, Morrison stood firm.
“Without a doubt I would (recuse myself). I would expect anybody, whether they work for whatever company, if there was a bill being discussed that directly related to that organization, that legislator is expected to recuse (him or herself).”
But the word “expected” has many voters wondering. During the most controversial presidential election in modern times, many people simply don’t trust lawmakers to keep their word these days. Just because Morrison says that he will recuse himself doesn’t mean that he will. And there is no law that says he must. Orentlicher seems to agree. “You don’t want the public to have to worry about the integrity of their Legislature. Unfortunately, we still have to worry.”
(Related Article: E-LIQUID RETAILER LICENSE REVOKED AMID INDIANA VAPING LAWS SCANDAL)