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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Bill Oesterle, the business executive who co-founded Angie’s List, helped elect Mitch Daniels to two terms as governor, and led the business charge against Indiana’s religious objections bill, has died at age 57.

Oesterle died Wednesday morning from complications of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Oesterle became a prominent figure in Indiana politics, beginning his career working at the Hudson Institute for former Governor Robert Orr.

Oesterle also led Mitch Daniels 2004 campaign for governor, an unorthodox campaign that included the candidate touring Indiana in an RV, dubbed RV One.

“I’m not often at a loss for words, but trying to imagine a world without Bill Oesterle leaves me that way,” Daniels said to WISH-TV in a statement. “He was a job creator, a community builder, a lifelong advocate for Indiana and a person with an enormous heart for others. He always said I was the person who persuaded him to return to Indiana: If that is so, it’s the single service I’m most proud of.”  

In 2015, Oesterle led the business charge against the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana, arguing that it unfairly targeted the LGBTQ community and would keep tech workers from accepting jobs in Indiana.

The business backlash and national outcry forced legislative leaders to make changes to the law.

Oesterle would then found Tech for Equality, a coalition of more than 30 companies to fight for human rights ordinances around the state.

Gov. Eric Holcomb called Oesterle’s death a “devastating loss for his family and loved ones, but also for the state he advocated for to always lean forward.”

“His zeal and zest for life and others was second to none,” Holcomb said in a statement to WISH-TV. “A rare individual who could focus beyond the horizon and on the immediate surroundings equally.”

In business, Oesterle was a co-founder of Angie’s List, a company that referred its members to recommended contractors, service companies and doctors.

Oesterle also committed time and money to revitalizing what he considered neglected areas of Indianapolis, including the Angie’s List campus downtown, the 38th Street Corridor, and other historic buildings.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

The family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to Friends of 38th Street, a not-for-profit near and dear to Bill’s heart.

INDIANAPOLIS — I-Team 8 spoke with political science professors who said we as a nation are in uncharted waters with the indictment of former President Donald Trump.

Historically, the closest comparison we’ve seen is what happened with Richard Nixon in the 70’s.

President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974. Two years after the Watergate scandal where high ranking people in the Nixon administration broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters.

“A former president being indicted is not the same as a having a sitting president leave office because of some type of criminal matter,” said Professor Aaron Dusso who teaches political science at IUPUI.

Even though he said this indictment doesn’t rise to the level of what happened with Richard Nixon, he told I-Team 8 it is still very historically significant.

“How do you think history will remember this time,” asked I-Team 8 reporter Kody Fisher.

“Woah, that’s a big question. I would say that history will look back at this as one of the most polarized times in the US history assuming that there’s a united states to look back on it,” said Dusso who added, “polarization is one of those key factors that people point to to the demise of democracy.”

IU Northwest Political Science Professor Marie Esenstein agreed.

She told I-team 8 the United States hasn’t seen polarization like this since the Civil War.
“I think we just need to do a better job of actually promoting political tolerance. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to accept it, you don’t have to agree with it, but you should tolerate and support others who disagree with you just because that’s an American ideal and that’s what makes our democracy work,” said Esenstein.

Moving forward, Dusso said this indictment has the potential of changing politics. The worst case scenario he sees is the creation of a tit for tat retaliation by political parties advocating for indicting former presidents just because this indictment happened.

“I have my doubts that that is going to happen, but I can’t predict the future,” said Dusso.

Dusso told I-Team 8 this isn’t the first time a politician has been charged with a crime. It’s just the first time it’s reached this far up the political ladder.

On Capitol Hill, the debate was over the top. 

Republicans attacked the Green New Deal, a Democratic road map to remake the American economy, reduce carbon emissions, and prevent the worst effects of climate change.   

But after much political theater, a resolution supporting the proposal was resoundingly defeated by the U.S. Senate.    

“I thought it presented an opportunity,” said Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander.   

Republican Senator Lamar Alexander is no fan of the Green New Deal.    

“So radical, so far left,” said the Senator.    

But he does believe climate change is a serious problem.    

“Most of the scientists, almost all of them say humans are major cause of it. So, the question is what to do about it.”   

Alexander is proposing a 10-point plan to address climate change over the next five years.  

“Doubling energy research, building advanced reactors, better batteries, greener buildings, electric cars.”   

“The investments that Senator Alexander is talking about certainly should be a part of a comprehensive, bipartisan solution,” said Elizabeth Gore with the Environmental Defense Fund.  

Gore was disappointed by this week’s debate. But she’s encouraged by Alexander’s proposal.    

“We need members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to come to the table to put their best ideas forward.”   

Alexander’s plan is much less ambitious than the Green New Deal, but it does contain some similarities.   

And he might have better luck getting it through congress — he’s chairman of the subcommittee

that funds energy research. 

The Atlantic magazine has fired a conservative commentator, just a week after announcing his hiring, amid reports of his inflammatory comments about abortion.

In a company email shared Friday with The Associated Press, Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg wrote that Kevin Williamson’s remarks ran against the magazine’s history of “respectful, well-reasoned debate.” In a tweet and in a 2014 podcast with the conservative National Review, Williamson advocated hanging for women who had abortions. Goldberg acknowledged he knew previously of the tweet, but considered it an isolated statement. The podcast was unearthed by the liberal watchdog Media Matters for America.

A Pennsylvania branch of Planned Parenthood says a tweet declaring the need for a Disney princess who’s had an abortion was not appropriate and the organization has taken it down.

An executive for Planned Parenthood Keystone says the group believes pop culture plays a “critical role” in educating the public and sparking “meaningful conversations about sexual and reproductive health issues and policies, including abortion.”

Melissa Reed, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Keystone, says the seriousness of the point they were trying to make was not appropriate for the subject matter.

The since-removed tweet read: “We need a Disney princess who’s had an abortion. We need a Disney princess who’s pro-choice. We need a Disney princess who’s an undocumented immigrant. We need a Disney princess who’s actually a union worker. We need a Disney princess who’s tran.”

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — As Indianapolis prepares for Republican presidential candidates to arrive in town, Democrat Bernie Sanders is getting an endorsement from the local Indianapolis union that represents Carrier workers.

United Steelworkers Local 1999 made the announcement this week.

This might have come as a surprise to some Donald Trump supporters, because he’s been so outspoken against the Carrier decision to layoff local workers.

But ultimately the union felt Sanders represented more of its values.

Derrick Morris represents Local 1999 and says it was a clear decision for the executive board to endorse Sanders as their candidate for president.

“We took the recommendation to our membership and unanimously, everybody said yes we’re behind Senator Sanders,” Morris said.

The union chose Sanders over all the other candidates because of one issue.

“One of the reasons behind it is because Senator Sanders has been consistent with his message on trade,” Morris said.

The union represents the Carrier workers set to lose their jobs when the company moves manufacturing to Mexico.

Republican Donald Trump has been an outspoken opponent of that Carrier decision.

But Morris said that stance is not enough to earn their support.

“We appreciate Mr. Trump speaking about Carrier, but a lot of other stuff he says we just don’t agree with,” Morris said.

Morris said he believes Sanders’ political history makes him the right candidate to represent their issues.

“That was the main issue, just that we need to keep these jobs here, good paying jobs for Americans, and Senator Sanders has been there with us from day one with that message,” Morris said.

He said the Trump campaign has reached out to the union a number of times to talk about Carrier.

He said they appreciate that Trump is concerned about the issue and that it is remaining in the spotlight.

WISH-TV reached out to Trump’s campaign Tuesday for comment on the union’s decision but has not heard back.

Also, the union had not heard from Ted Cruz’ campaign as of Tuesday.

HOWE, Ind. (WANE) – U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman is officially in the race for a United State Senate seat.

According to 24-Hour News 8 sister station, WANE, the Howe Republican on Monday filed paperwork with the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office required to appear on the May primary ballot. Stutzman is one of several vying to succeed senior Indiana Sen. Dan Coats, who is retiring after 2016.

“Today, with the help of devoted volunteers from all over our great state, I am pleased to say we are one step closer to sending a conservative to challenge the status quo in Washington D.C.,” said Stutzman.

Stutzman’s campaign said it has gathered more signatures statewide than any other candidate in the race for the Senate seat.

Stutzman will battle U.S. Rep. Todd Young and former Mitch Daniels aide Eric Holcomb for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination in the May primary. The winner will face Democrat Baron Hill in November.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Indiana lawmakers are considering the possibility of regulating daily fantasy sports sites.

State Rep. Alan Morrison of Terre Haute says Hoosiers are currently allowed to play those sites, but the state has no control over who can offer the games.

“We’ve seen several states across the country trying to regulate this or some ban it entirely, like Arizona,” Morrison said Wednesday at the Bingham Greenebaum Doll Legislative Conference. “The attorney general of Indiana hasn’t offered an opinion on this and it has been left up to the General Assembly. I think it’s time to do something.”

Morrison says he will author a bill that would add basic consumer protectors and transparency to the sites. He also would like to see the fantasy firms register with the state and pay an annual fee. A final component of the bill would allow Indiana’s casino’s to offer their own daily fantasy sports options or partner with prominent fantasy sites.

The Evansville Courier & Press reports the popularity of daily fantasy sites has exploded recently. Legal battles are underway in several states as officials attempt to determine whether the contests are legal and if they should be subject to regulation as a form of gambling.

Representatives of popular sites FanDuel and DraftKings argue daily fantasy contests are games of skill, not games of chance, and are thus exempt from federal bans on online sports betting.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Gov. Mike Pence, who often identifies himself as a Christian and man of faith, finds himself in a delicate spot as he navigates the issue of sheltering Syrian refugee families in Indiana.

The Republican’s objections to welcoming the refugees has put him at odds with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis, which went ahead last week with plans to place a family of four from the war-torn country in the city, saying the reception was “an essential part of our identity as Catholic Christians.”

Critics say Pence’s stance, based on concerns about security threats, risks making Indiana seem less than hospitable, especially after last spring’s controversy over a religious objections law that provoked national backlash amid worries that it would sanction discrimination against gay people on religious grounds. Some critics even suggest the tough refugee stance runs counter to Christian teaching.

But the governor rejects the criticism, saying he believes his job is striking a balance between compassion and charity on the one hand, and keeping people safe on the other.

“My faith informs me to keep my oath (of office),” Pence said after the archdiocese’s announcement. That, he said, means a “responsibility to do everything in my power to see to the safety and security of the people of this state.”

Last month Pence joined 30 other governors, all but one a Republican, who sought to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the wake of the deadly attacks in Paris. They noted that a Syrian passport was found near one of the attacker’s bodies.

Advocates of accepting the refugees, including Obama administration officials, argue that potential terrorists face extremely long odds of successfully infiltrating the U.S. through the refugee program. They point to the detailed security checks involved, some of which can involve a years-long wait.

Pence initially directed all state agencies to “suspend” the resettlement program, even as opponents challenged his legal authority to do so. After the church’s move, he said state officials were instructed to block only the state’s small share of refugee services, while allowing federally funded services to proceed.

The governor, who was born into a Catholic family but became an Evangelical Christian as a young man, has expressed sympathy for the refugees’ plight, and rejected GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call to bar the entry of Muslims into the U.S. In trying to block the refugees, he and other governors said they were trying to force the Obama administration to offer more assurances of security.

“I don’t think we have to choose between security and compassion,” he said.

Experts in politics and faith say there long have been tensions between religious conviction and the need to effectively govern, which is now Pence’s challenge. His political base is composed of religious conservatives, and in Congress, before he became governor, he liked to identify himself as “Christian, conservative and Republican, in that order.”

“Governor Pence cannot only be a Christian. He is the governor of Indiana,” said Arthur Farnsley, a professor of religious studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. “Our (founding) principles – helping people in need – always have to be balanced against the need for safety and security.”

Added Steven Bucci, a foreign policy expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation: “Christian principles in the Bible are directed at individuals – not at governments.”

But Notre Dame theology professor and migration expert Rev. Daniel Groody said not welcoming the refugees was “certainly not Christian.” He accused the governors of “using this stuff for political gain” by exploiting voters’ fears, and, and he alluded to Jesus’ birth in a manger after Mary and Joseph fled persecution.

“The Christian faith would argue that God himself came to our world as a migrant,” Groody said. Opposing the refugees “makes it look like (the governors) are trying to protect us for the common good. But these (refugees) are not the people we need to be afraid of.”

Recent polls show that a majority of Republicans see a high risk that refugees from Syria will commit acts of religious and political violence in the U.S. Pence is expected to face a tough re-election challenge next year against Democrat John Gregg, but he has no GOP primary challenger.

Pence, at an airport news conference, dismissed as “ridiculous” the suggestion that his refugee posture made Indiana seem unwelcoming.

“The fact that Indiana, along with 30 other states, has expressed concerns about the security associated with the Syrian refugee program is a reflection of common sense,” he said.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WISH) – Indiana voters got a chance to hear firsthand how one presidential candidate plans put the nation on the right path.

Republican Ben Carson held a rally in Fort Wayne as he continued his Midwest campaign tour.

Supporters called Ben Carson’s life story inspirational. Others called him our country’s next leader.

Thousands of them packed the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, seizing the opportunity to hear his stance on pressing issues while also letting him know he’s already got their vote.

If there was ever a line to help warm up a crowd of Hoosiers, Carson found it.

“You know I love coming to Indiana, a lot of people here with common sense and you don’t find that every place,” he said to a round of applause. That place today was Fort Wayne, where he held a rally estimated around 4,000 people strong.

“Even though we’re the second largest in Indiana it’s nice to know that he wants to come to the small cities,” said Beth Maish of Goshen.

I think that really bodes well for Northeast Indiana, what we’ve done economically, what we’ve done politically, I think it says a lot of great things,” said Andy Zay of Huntington.

One of the first issues Carson tackled was one he’s been scrutinized for, national security.

He outlined ideas for stopping ISIS on the home front and overseas, using the internet as a way to combat terrorism.

“It’s probably one of his weaker points but I believe any really of the republican candidates, what they don’t have and the strength that they don’t have will find great people to bring and put beside them,” said Zay.

Carson went on to say that the real answer to protecting the American people is to take the war to the instigators overseas. He said the nation needs to be willing to do what’s necessary to stop terrorism, even fighting dirty since that’s how the terrorists fight.

Carson took two questions from the crowd, one on gun control. He said rather than regulate what types of weapons are sold, the focus should be on making sure owners are in good mental health.

“We need to make sure that we understand that guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” he said to a round of applause.

But the loudest and most emphatic response came when Carson told the conservative crowd that progressives shouldn’t be trying to remove God from society.

The support around the room was undeniable, just like Carson’s recent dip in the polls. Several reports had him in recent weeks had him anywhere from second place to fourth with Donald Trump leading the way.

But many people at the really were confident the retired neurosurgeon could revive his campaign.

“I think he is one of the top ones and I think he will come out ahead in the end,” said Joan Gebert of Fort Wayne.