A Indiana GOP operative allegedly offered "unlimited" campaign cash in exchange for Republican lawmakers' votes against a proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage.
According to the Associated Press, Jim Kittle, former state Republican Party chairman, made the offer to House Speaker Brian Bosma (R) -- a pledge to help protect any GOP lawmakers who voted against the proposed ban if they faced a primary challenge from the right.
Bosma had previously said that he had received the offer, according to the AP, but had not disclosed who it was. The news agency cited "multiple people with direct knowledge of the discussion" in identifying Kittle as the person who made the offer.
No money ever exchanged hands, according to the AP, because Bosma questioned whether the offer was legal. "I did bring to that individual's attention what it sounded like he was saying and I think he was pretty concerned about it after he said it," Bosma said.
The Indiana legislature considered last month a constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage, but parliamentary maneuvering in both chambers pushed the issue off for now, delivering a victory to opponents of the ban.
TPM contacted the U.S. attorney and FBI offices in Indianapolis. "We don't confirm or deny investigations or whether or not there is one," Wendy Osborne, a special agent at the FBI's Indianapolis division, told TPM over the phone.
"I cannot comment on this matter," Tim Horty, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of Indiana, told TPM in an email.
As TPM has reported, some moderate Republican operatives and business organizations had teamed up to stop the amendment. The Associated Press reported that Kittle was one of several GOP fundraisers who gave money to the pro-marriage equality coalition.
The threat of a right-wing primary challenge for lawmakers who opposed the amendment was real, according to the AP. The Indiana Family Institute, which supported the ban, had sent out an email asking conservatives to contact the offices of House members and included a note about the primary filing deadline.
Bosma, the House speaker, has also said publicly that a potential legislative candidate had told him that an out-of-state source had offered them $500,000 if the candidate challenged Bosma from the right.
Kittle, who also headed Kittle's Furniture, the retail chain founded by his grandparents, served as the Indiana Republican Party's chairman from 2002 to 2006.