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Was Angie’s List Chief Forced Out?

The long-time CEO of Indiana-based Angie’s List is out of a job. USA Today called the resignation “unexpected” and it raises the immediate question of whether Bill Oesterle got too far out front in denouncing the civil rights laws of the state of Indiana.

Oesterle was one of several corporate chiefs who attacked Indiana and its governor Mike Pence for passing a religious freedom law that would have given Christian businesses arguments in court for denying service to gay weddings. But, Oesterle went further than most. When the state legislature instituted a “fix” to the law, a “fix” that took away any defense for Christian businesses, Oesterle denounced it saying it did not go far enough.

Oesterle said he would not be satisfied until “sexual orientation and gender identity” were added as protected categories in Indiana’s civil rights laws, on par with creed, race and sex. Similar laws have been used to silence Christians in the workplace in Washington State and California.

Oesterle had announced plans for Angie’s List to spend $40 million to expand its presence in Indiana and add 1,000 employees. The plans were put on hold with the religious freedom law, but Oesterle said plans would not go forward even after the legislative fix that has so angered Christian conservatives.

Oesterle has helmed Angie’s List for twenty years but the company, which helps consumers to find a broad-range of vendors, has never posted an annual profit and has only been kept afloat by investor money.

Oesterle said he was stepping down to pursue other interests and to get involved “civically” in Indiana. He says he wants to restore Indiana’s reputation over the “shellacking” it got over the religious freedom issue and it is reported he may try to unseat Governor Mike Pence. Oesterle is a Republican who ran two of Governor Mitch Daniel’s campaigns. 

Follow Austin Ruse on Twitter @austinruse

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