Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Tully: Prosecutor's Race To Be Brutal

Star political writer Matt Tully opines today that the Marion Co. Prosecutor's race between the incumbent Carl Brizzi (R) and his Democratic opponent Melina Kennedy is going to be "a nasty, mudslinging battle." It begins, according to Tully, to Democrats' response to Brizzi's handling of the Harry Gonso and David Thomas matters concerning alleged job offers they made for political favors. Democrats it seem think Brizzi is whitewashing both matters. Tully writes:

The Marion County Democratic Party tossed the first grenade this morning, calling a press conference to address Brizzi's relationship with Gov. Mitch Daniels' administration.

"Invite Reveals Daniels Helped Raise $350,000 for Brizzi, then seven days later Brizzi said he wouldn’t investigate Daniels' top aide,” a release about the press conference reads. Party chief Ed Treacy is leading the 10:30 a.m. press conference, so it is certain to be filled with heightened rhetoric and verbal lashings.

Here's the back story: As has been reported, Daniels appeared at a fundraiser for Brizzi at St. Elmo Steak House two weeks ago. Separately, word leaked out days later that Daniels' chief of staff, Harry Gonso, had offered jobs to two House Democrats.

The accustation from some Democrats is that Gonso was trying to coax the lawmakers out of their legislative seats, knowing that their retirements would help the GOP retain control of the House. The lawmakers turned down the job offers.

Brizzi did investigate a similar alleged job offer made by Daniels' inspector general, but has declined to investigate Gonso. For the record, no one directly involved in this issue has accused Gonso of wrongdoing.
No matter. Democrats see an opening, a chance to tie Brizzi to a governor who is struggling in the polls. With the county becoming more Democratic every day, Treacy and Kennedy don't want anyone to forget that Brizzi is a Republican.

So there it is. The race for prosecutor is on. The mudslinging has begun. Get ready for a hard-fought campaign.

If Tully thinks the negative attacks by Kennedy just started today, then he hasn't been reading what our Democratic friends at Taking Down Words and other surrogates have been writing about Brizzi for months now. TDW has been conducting aerial strikes on Brizzi on a weekly basis, although the issues TDW raises are typically fair game in any political race.

TDW also takes on Brizzi in reaction to a Star report today that his office has cleared Daniels' Inspector General David Thomas of any wrongdoing in connection with allegations he offered a position on the Indiana Parole Board to a Clay County Sheriff's candidate if he would drop his bid to win that office. TDW says, "It's a new whitewashing world record! Carl Brizzi's investigation of Dave Thomas lasted almost as long as Dave Thomas's investigation of the Guv's use of RV-1."

In light of the fact that Steve Bell, the Clay County Sheriff candidate, told a completely different story to Brizzi's investigators than he did to the Star, insisting that Thomas never made him a job offer, there seems little more Brizzi's office can do in regards to prosecuting the case. Absent an allegation from the man who originally made the accusation or other evidence that Bell was pressured by Thomas or others to lie to the investigators, where's the crime?

If Democrats think Brizzi is going soft on Repubican friends, at least one Republican must be thinking otherwise. That would be former lobbyist and GOP political consultant, Brad Hiller, who Brizzi's office prosecuted for theft of funds he oversaw while working for the Indiana Senate Republican Campaign Committee. The Star announced today that Brizzi plans to file new charges against Hiller, just as he is completing a 6-month sentence for his earlier crime, for money he stole from one of his clients at Bose Treacy Associates, the Indiana Soft Drink Association. If he is found guilty of these new charges, he could face several more years in prison. Speaking on his decision to file new charges against Hiller, Brizzi said, "It shows your economic station doesn't matter. If you're going to steal, you're going to steal. He continued, "And it's easier to steal with a briefcase than it is with a gun."

Ironically, Hiller's former boss is none other than Ed Treacy, the Marion Co. Democratic chairman who was conducting a press conference this morning to complain that Brizzi was whitewashing the Thomas investigation. Advance Indiana is curious if Treacy and other Democrats think Brizzi is falling down on his job for not launching an investigation into ghost payrolling/bribery in connection with the damning IU internal audit released just this week about the questionable employment of two Democratic lawmakers, Rep. John Aguilera and former Rep. Ron Liggett.


Anonymous said...

Brad Hiller's(R) prosecution was for stealing funds from the REPUBLICAN Campaign Committee. How exactly does that substantiate that Brizzi is not soft on his Republican friends—you know, those friends that don’t steal from their own political party funds.

And, yes,Brizzi would be falling down on his job if he doesn’t investigate any reliable claim of law breaking. In the case of Aguilera and Liggett -- given the lightening speed his office is becoming known for -- that investigation ought to take all of half a day or so…

Gary R. Welsh said...

If you look at the fees political consultants like Hiller traditionally charge some of these campaigns, you might easily conclude they're all stealing from their campaigns.Apparently, they have the good sense to pad a legitimate invoice rather than making up phony invoices.