After leading the business community's outspoken opposition to Indiana's recently passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the CEO of consumer review website Angie's List is resigning — and turning to politics to help repair Indiana's reputation in the wake of the controversial law.
Bill Oesterle has been one of the few business leaders to continue opposing the controversial law, calling the supposed "fix" signed by Gov. Mike Pence in the wake of national outcry "insufficient."
And Wednesday, Angie's list announced its CEO would be stepping down, reports the The Indianapolis Star.
Oesterle said Indiana's "reputation has been badly damaged" by the passage — and subsequent amending — of the law critics said would enable businesses and individuals to discriminate against LGBT people. The state's public image "took a shellacking" and was "under significant duress and went through a heartbreaking situation," Oesterle said, according to the Star.
In the past, Oesterle led former Gov. Mitch Daniels' first successful campaign, noted The Statehouse File, a news website maintained by journalism students at Franklin College. Oesterle rejected initial speculation that his announcement meant he was planning to launch an effort to unseat current Gov. Mike Pence, who is up for reelection in 2016.
Oesterle's primary objective, he told The Statehouse File, is to "begin the long process of repairing" Indiana's public image. "I haven't figured out how I’m going to do that," Oesterle continued. "That could involve helping somebody else run. That could involve working on legislative races. That could involve becoming a candidate myself."
Oesterle is a self-identified Republican, like Gov. Pence — who recently told reporters that he believed the difficulties regarding national backlash was over, while also hiring a public relations firm to address the damage.
"I think the difficult time that Indiana has just passed through … is behind us," said Pence, according to the Star.
But Pence's comments fell on the same day that the Indiana Senate rejected an amendment, proposed by Democrats, that "would have created a committee to study the possibility of adding statewide protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity," reports the Star. Other legislative efforts to add LGBT nondiscrimination protections to Indiana law have found no traction.
And that's a deal-breaker for Oesterle, who is standing by his decision to cancel a planned expansion of his company's Indianapolis headquarters unless or until Indiana law protects LGBT Hoosiers.
"I have two passions I've worked on throughout my career: Angie's List and the state of Indiana," Oesterle told The Statehouse File. "I can't do both."