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Lincoln Dinner books GOP leader

The second-ranking Republican in the U.S. House will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Allen County Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., will speak at the April 22 dinner at Ceruti’s Summit Park, 6601 Innovation Blvd., according to county GOP Chairman Steve Shine.

Cantor’s scheduled appearance is “in keeping with the tradition of bringing high-profile national conservative speakers” to the annual gathering of local Republicans, Shine said.

He said Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, arranged for Cantor to come to Fort Wayne. Cantor also will attend a campaign fundraiser for Stutzman on the day of the dinner, according to a member of Stutzman’s staff.

“It shows the respect that Marlin has on Capitol Hill,” Shine said, noting that Stutzman had also arranged for Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to speak at local GOP programs in recent years. “I’m the producer; he’s the caster,” Shine, who stands for re-election March 2 as party chairman, said about his and Stutzman’s duties for such events.

The Lincoln Day Dinner time and ticket prices have not been set. Ceruti’s can seat about 600 people for the dinner.

Cantor, 49, has been in Congress since 2001 and, as majority leader since 2011, is second in command to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Cantor is from Richmond, Va., was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates in the 1990s and is the only Jewish Republican member of Congress.

Guns and money

Gun-rights advocates have contributed more than $585,000 to the campaigns of state and federal political candidates in Indiana since 1989, according to research by the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation.

Gun-control supporters have given less than $9,800 to Hoosier campaigns in that time.

Indiana ranked 16th nationally in the amount of money that gun-rights groups donated to candidates. California was first at nearly $2.57 million.

Nationwide, gun-rights groups have made $28.3 million in direct contributions to candidates since 1989, while gun-control groups have contributed $1.9 million, the Sunlight Foundation reported Monday.

The foundation identified its data sources as the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

In the most recent election cycle, gun-rights advocates – including the National Rifle Association, Safari Club International and people associated with gun-rights groups – backed five of the six Republicans who won congressional seats in Indiana.

Only Fort Wayne native Susan Brooks, who was elected in the 5th District, did not receive contributions ahead of the Nov. 6 election. Brooks did get an NRA contribution for $1,000 about two weeks later, according to a post-election campaign finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, received $3,500 in donations, less than any Hoosier Republican except freshman Rep. Luke Messer, R-6th. Both Stutzman and Messer won election in districts where they were heavy favorites to defeat their Democratic rivals.

Gun-rights advocates contributed more than $19,400 to the campaign of Richard Mourdock, who defeated six-term incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar in the Republican primary election but was beaten by Democrat Joe Donnelly in the general election.

No Indiana Democrats in the 2011-12 election cycle received contributions from gun-rights groups, according to Sunlight Foundation data, and no candidates of either party collected donations from gun-control advocates.

A good cause

New House Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown has brought a deliberate vibe to the fiscal-minded committee.

The Crawfordsville Republican starts every meeting with a moment of silent reflection.

Afterward, he points to a jar of money sitting in front of him as the penalty jar for cellphones. At that point lobbyists all around the room – and a few lawmakers – can be seen reaching for their devices and setting them to silent.

“Good, that’s the way it’s supposed to work,” Brown says.

Every once in a while a phone goes off and someone drops a dollar into the jar. Brown gives the money to a local charity every few weeks.

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