Republican House candidate Victoria Spartz has made her childhood in the former Soviet Union the centerpiece of her 2020 campaign, telling Indiana voters that she is uniquely qualified to fight the growing influence of socialism in Washington, D.C.
"I’m someone who grew up in a socialist system and sees where it leads to," Spartz told the Washington Free Beacon. "When the government runs out of money—it’s only a matter of time that it does—it becomes a place of corruption, anarchy, and destruction."
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A naturalized American citizen originally from Ukraine, Spartz got her start as a grassroots organizer for conservative causes in the heartland of Hamilton County, Ind., and turned her knowledge as a publicly certified accountant into a career in public service. She was the chief financial officer in the Indiana attorney general’s office and has served as a state senator for three years, quickly gaining a reputation as an independent-thinking, tough legislator. Along the way, Spartz taught business classes at Indiana University and continues to raise two daughters.
As a state senator, Spartz took on major fights to reform education and health care policy in Indiana but soon found that federal overreach made the kinds of changes she wanted extremely difficult. The Republican hopeful seeks federal office to further the reforms she sees as necessary for the prosperity of her constituents.
Spartz made education a main thrust of her legislative efforts, passing bills that stood to deregulate education at the state level and supplement current Indiana curricula with workforce development programs.
"We’ve created a system with very perverse incentives," Spartz said of the education system at both the state and national levels. "We don’t give children the fundamentals, then they just graduate and pile up debt with no skills. Everyone is teaching to the test, not for knowledge."
Spartz’s opponent to fill the seat left open by retiring Republican Susan Brooks is Christina Hale, a former Indiana State House member. Hale won a close primary armed with the financial backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Propelled by a massive campaign war chest, Hale's $3.5 million machine tops Spartz's own campaign in spending by nearly $1 million. Spartz, nevertheless, hangs tough by playing up her community roots and connection with constituents.
"[Hale's] a politician, she goes from one job to another," Spartz said. "When it matters, she’ll always vote with her caucus and her leadership."
Hale has faced scrutiny from Republicans over her personal finances throughout the campaign. She has not released her 2020 financial disclosure report, with her last report filed in November 2019. According to the House Ethics Committee, candidates for the House must submit a financial disclosure statement during an election year.
Additionally, according to her LinkedIn profile, Hale served as the president of Leadership Indianapolis, a grassroots nonprofit, from June 2017 to January 2018. Leadership Indianapolis’s publicly available disclosures indicate that Hale took a $7,379 salary in 2018 but did not make her earnings public on her 2019 financial statements.
The Hale campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment when asked about the financial issues.
Kendra Arnold, executive director of the ethics watchdog Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, found Hale's failure to submit a financial disclosure in 2020 troubling.
"The financial disclosure reports are extremely important because it is the only way for citizens to assess whether a candidate has specific conflicts of interest," Arnold told the Free Beacon. "A candidate must take the disclosure laws seriously and make accurate and timely filings to allow for the voters to assess the information with sufficient time before voting and demonstrate a commitment to the ethics laws and transparency required of all Members."
Spartz has earned high marks from colleagues for her honesty and independence as a legislator. In June, Spartz won a competitive primary with over 10 candidates.
"As an Indiana State Senator, I have had a front row seat to observe how Victoria Spartz behaves when those tough votes arise. In fact, she sits right beside me in the senate chamber," said state senator Mike Gaskill (R., Ind.) in an endorsement. "Not only have I watched her make courageous votes every single time conservative values were on the line, I have also watched her persuade other senators to stand tall when the pressure was on."
The congressional hopeful also spoke at length about the importance of American civics. A student of President Ronald Reagan and the Founders, Spartz told the Free Beacon a governing priority for her is returning the federal government to a smaller size.
"The core functions of the federal government should be national defense, enforce our constitutional rights, and have some interstate commerce," Spartz said. "We have a system that promotes the strengths of individuals and freedom to decide [their future]."
Spartz warned that the modern Democratic Party wants to make reforms to the government that would stand to utterly transform the American system to more resemble her native Soviet-era Ukraine.
"Our country has spent so much energy and so many people have died fighting these crazy, utopic big-government ideas in the last century," Spartz said. "[For Democrats] to do that now is really frightening."
Spartz maintained that the stakes of the election couldn’t be higher.
"It’s a very important election," Spartz told the Free Beacon. "It’s not a choice between individual candidates, but it’s a choice about what we want to be as a country. Do we still want to be a free republic of individuals pursuing happiness and have their own freedom, or do we want to be a big government machine with political elites on top and everyone else equally poor at the bottom?"
The Cook Political Report rates the race in Indiana’s Fifth Congressional District as a "toss up."