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Vulnerable Dem. Senator Profits From the Very Outsourcing He Condemned

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), who faces a tough re-election campaign next year in a state that President Donald Trump won last November, has personally benefited from the very job outsourcing he has railed against for years. Specifically, he attacked Carrier Corp. for moving manufacturing jobs to Mexico last year, at the same time as he profited from a family business which relies on Mexican labor.

In 2016, the very year when Donnelly attacked Carrier, the senator made between $15,001 and $50,000 in dividends from stock he owns in an arts and crafts business owned by his family, the Associated Press (AP) reported Thursday.

For more than a year, Stewart Superior Corp. and its subsidiaries have been shipping thousands of pounds of raw materials to Mexico. The company owns a factory south of the border which produces ink pads and other supplies, the AP reported after examining customs reports from Panjiva Inc., which tracks American imports and exports. The finished products are sent to California.

Donnelly previously served as a corporate officer and general counsel for Stewart Superior before he was first elected to Congress in 2006. While his brother now owns the company, the senator, who filed a disclosure form in May, reported owning as much as $50,000 in company stock and earning between $15,001 and $50,000 in dividends last year.

On Stewart Superior's website, the company claims that its Mexican factory "brings economical, cost competitive manufacturing and product development to our valued customers."

But Alejandro Ruelas-Gossi, a professor at the University of Miami School of Business who focuses on Latin America, argued that these practices harm people in Mexico.

"What you are creating is poverty, because the jobs they are creating are very poor jobs," Ruelas-Gossi told the AP. "You have very poor salaries. You have poor quality of life. It's not good for America and it's not good for Mexico."

While free trade advocates would argue that even low-paying jobs still help the people in Mexico — they are better than no jobs, and so long as people aren't forced into labor, they benefit the economy — Donnelly has already disagreed with this position. Ruelas-Gossi attacked his "hypocrisy" on the issue.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump and Mike Pence, Indiana's governor at the time, focused on workers who would lose their jobs in the planned move by Carrier and its parent company, United Technologies. Donnelly also attacked the company, blaming corporate greed and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

"What you're seeing with Carrier is what I call free riders," Donnelly told The Statehouse File in August 2016. "What they do because of the trade agreement NAFTA, is they ship jobs to Mexico for $3 an hour, and so they get the benefit of the absolute lowest wages they can find, and then turn around to ship the products back to the United States."