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FBI launches probe into Indiana vaping laws over possible corruption

A simple lawsuit filed by a Florida-based e-juice company over the legality of the Indiana vaping laws is making national headlines while also apparently capturing the attention of the FBI, as well.  The basis of the lawsuit claims that state officials intentionally designed a set of regulations that create a sort of “e-juice monopoly” in the state of Indiana.  When Judge Richard Young of the Southern District Court of Indiana granted the plaintiff, GoodCat LLC., a preliminary injunction last Friday, vaping advocacy groups around the nation immediate took notice.  Unfortunately for Indiana lawmakers, so did the FBI.

FBI agents talk with Indiana Sen. Phil Boots

According to the Indianapolis Business Journal(IBJ), the FBI probe began well before Judge Young handed down his August 19 ruling.   State Senator Phil Boots told the newspaper that he had personally spoken with at least one FBI agent as far back as mid-July.  This claim was further confirmed by an Indiana vape shop owner and political activist, Evan McMahon, who agreed to having a conversation with another FBI agent perhaps a week or so before the ruling.

The agent "said they were investigating it,” McMahon told IBJ. “They were looking at possible anti-trust and corruption (violations). He wasn’t just poking around.”

Senator Phil Boots is not so certain that the FBI is launching an “official” investigation, at least not just yet.  According to Boots, the FBI agent made it very clear that “this was just a discussion, not an official investigation.” Sen. Boots goes on to state that he was also asked if he had any knowledge of other lawmakers or private citizens benefitting from the Indiana vaping laws, financially or otherwise.  At least one other politician, State Senator Vaneta Becker, would not comment when asked if she had spoken with the FBI, as well.

“They asked me if I knew of anything anyone might have gotten out of this legislation,” claims Sen. Phil Boots. “I think that’s what they’re looking at — Did someone in the legislature gain from the legislation?”

The controversy stems from House Bill 1432 which was signed into law in May 2015.  The new legislation requires all e-cig retailers and manufacturers in the state of Indiana to hire a security firm with a long list of credentials.  As many business owners soon discovered, only one such firm existed in the entire state of Indiana, Mulhaupt’s of Lafayette.  The Vice President of the company also had active roles on the organizational boards of at least two of the required accrediting agencies.



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