Indiana House hopeful Curt Nisly is coming under fire as a secessionist from a political action committee tied to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce stemming from a 2012 tweet he sent.
In a political postcard that hit District 22 mailboxes on Monday, Indiana Business for Responsive Government, or IBRG, charges that Nisly "wants to break up America." Nisly is challenging Rep. Rebecca Kubacki, the District 22 incumbent, in the GOP primary May 6, and the contest has grown increasingly charged.
Nisly "has called for Indiana to leave the United States, effectively seceding from the union and breaking up our beloved nation," said the postcard from IBRG, which is a PAC of the Indiana Chamber. "It's a shocking betrayal of our country, Constitution and the men and women who have fought and died to protect it."
The Nisly campaign denounced the postcard, rejected charges he favors seceding and jabbed at Kubacki, who's seeking her third term as representative of District 22, which includes southern Elkhart County and northern Kosciusko County. Nisly, conservative and a strong defender of states' rights, is waging an aggressive campaign, and he and his supporters have criticized Kubacki's legislative vote earlier this year against the same-sex marriage amendment question, among other things.
"Rebecca Kubacki seeks to distract the people of (District 22) because she cannot defend her roll call votes against traditional marriage, against the second amendment, for Common Core and for the regulation of church outreach ministries," said a statement Tuesday, April 22, from the Nisly campaign. It went on: "It is time Ms. Kubacki stop dodging her constituency and playing 'gotcha politics,' House District 22 deserves better."
Kubacki, contacted Tuesday, said she had nothing to do with the mailing, borne out by a notation and disclaimer on the postcard: "Paid for by Indiana Business for Responsive Government and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee."
She deferred comment on the secessionist charge. "That's his ballgame. I'm not going to comment on what he says or what he tweets," she said.
But the lawmaker from Syracuse lamented the tone of the campaign. "That's really stupid," Kubacki said of the mailer. "It makes me sick that that's what's happening this election," she said.
'NOT INTERESTED' IN SECEDING
The source of the IBRG charges, according to the mailer, is a Nov. 12, 2012, tweet from Nisly's Twitter account, @curtnisly. The tweet, which no longer appears on his account, reads "Peacefully grant the State of Indiana to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government," according to the mailer.
Pam Galloway, part of the Nisly campaign, said Nisly "seems to remember" the tweet. It wasn't a call by him to secede, though, but rather, meant to reference a petition on the secession question started on the White House online petition page.
In late 2012, critics of federal government overreach from around the country started petition campaigns on the White House website, in part to decry what they viewed as excessive federal government intrusion, according to Galloway. In the context of the debate, Nisly, a proponent of states' rights, sent the tweet specific to the Indiana petition.
Galloway said Nisly doesn't recall if he signed the petition. But the candidate, who lives south of Goshen in the northern reaches of District 22, rejected secessionist charges, though he's a firm believer of keeping tabs on federal control.
"I am not interested in Indiana seceding. I want the federal government to be strong and do the 20 things that it's supposed to do," he said by phone, alluding to federal powers spelled out in the U.S. Constitution. "Not interested in Indiana performing the functions of the federal government."
In his website, Nisley elaborates on his states' rights views.
"The states preceded the federal government and formed the federal government, and therefore maintain supremacy over the federal government in all matters which are not expressly given to the federal government in the U.S. Constitution," says an entry in the website, under a heading, "Indiana State Sovereignty." "Indiana has the right and duty to keep the federal government inside its constitutional boundaries."
Similarly, Galloway said Nisley backs the notion of nullification, the idea that states may invalidate federal laws under certain circumstances.
Back at the time of Nisley's tweet in late 2012, there were secessionist petitions for 20 states on the White House petition website, according to a National Public Radio report at the time. WTHR television in Indianapolis reported at the time that 13,000 people had signed the Indiana version, which is no longer available on the White House website.
Jeff Brantley, vice president of political affairs for the IBRG, which has endorsed Kubacki, saw the tweet in question in Nisley's Twitter feed last week. He provided a screen shot taken March 11 of the feed, containing the tweet, but said when he checked again on Tuesday, the tweet was no longer there.
The tweet, Brantley said, "speaks for itself."