A former Indiana lawmaker’s contract with the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs may have violated state lobbying laws, according to a newspaper investigation.
Allen Paul received more than $150,000 from July 2015 to December 2018 after signing a lobbying contract with the department, The Indianapolis Star reported. This happened nine months after the former Republican senator retired in 2014.
Lawmakers have to wait a year after leaving office before they can become lobbyists, according to state law. Paul also failed to register as a lobbyist, the newspaper said.
Paul said he hasn’t done anything wrong and that he acted as a consultant, not a lobbyist.
“I wanted to be a consultant,” he said. “I feel much freer as a consultant to be in that building. I’m not shackled by lobbyist situations, being called one.”
Paul Helmke, an Indiana University civics professor and former Republican mayor of Fort Wayne, reviewed the details of Paul’s job description and contract and said he believes the position qualifies as lobbying.
“I can’t see how you can argue that he’s not lobbying,” Helmke said.
Individuals or organizations must register as lobbyists if they spend or receive at least $500 to interact with a legislative authority to influence legislative action. State government employees are exempt, but records show the veterans affairs department hired Paul through a temporary firm.
The department ended Paul’s contract on Monday, deputy director Matt Vincent said in an email.
Longtime veterans affairs director James Brown resigned in December following reports that he awarded money to veterans who worked under him at the agency that was intended to go to veterans struggling to make ends meet. He was replaced by Dennis Wimer in January.