Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Is Brizzi Confused? Or Is It The Media?

A Star report by Mary Beth Schneider today carries the headline, "Oops! Brizzi now says investigation of ex-official is over." Schneider tells us that Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's office reversed itself 4 days after it initially said the investigation of former INDOT Commission Bryan Nicol was ongoing, now saying that the investigation is over after Nicol admitted to state ethics violations and agreed to pay a $5,000 fine. She reports that in a news release and in interviews Brizzi said that the investigation of Nicol was ongoing. And that may well be the case, but that's not the impression she gave Star readers last week.

Last Friday, in a report about Nichol and former ISP Superintendant Mel Carraway admitting to state ethics violations, Schneider said an investigation into Carraway continued but said nothing about any ongoing criminal investigation of Nichol. She wrote of the two then:

However, Blackwell and the Marion County prosecutor's office said an investigation by that office into Carraway and his cousin, former State Police Col. Cody Johnson,

Roger Rayl, spokesman for Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, said that while the investigation into the hard drives is complete, the office continues to investigate allegations, outlined in a State Board of Accounts audit last year, that Carraway and Johnson inappropriately directed more than $140,000 in public dollars to a foundation that runs the State Police Memorial.

In a statement, Nicol said, "While I did not intentionally or knowingly violate the political activity rule, I have owned up to and paid for this mistake. I'm sorry.

"It is important to note that I did not, in any way whatsoever, personally or professionally, gain anything from this matter."

A WISH-TV report on the same day as Schneider's story appeared said the complete opposite. It reported:

But the question is, can Nicol move on? Prosecutor Carl Brizzi says he's still looking into Nicol's political fundraising efforts and wrongdoing.

Nicol apparently tried to cover up that he had changed official documents awarding millions in state contracts before leaving office.

Carraway's attorney issued a statement explaining that Carraway destroyed hard drives to insure homeland security matters would not be compromised. Brizzi says Carraway's actions "do not rise to the level of criminal conduct," and the investigation into Carraway is done.

So either Schneider or WISH-TV reported it wrong from the beginning. Schneider's report today would indicate that she had it wrong last Friday, but I haven't seen any report that Carraway has been cleared by the prosecutor's office so WISH-TV may have had it wrong on that account as well.

For his part, Schneider reports that "Brizzi said he had planned to announce Monday that the investigation was over, with no criminal charges filed. However, on Monday afternoon, Nicol's attorney, Larry Mackey, released a statement along with a copy of Byron's letter to show the investigation had ended. "We were going to," Brizzi said Tuesday. "We got beat to the punch."

My conclusion is that everyone screwed up at least a little on this one.


Anonymous said...

My understanding is that the media reported Brizzi's statement accurately last week. Brizzi had no knowledge that his employee had sent the letter to Mackey until after both stories ran. But instead of admitting fault, Mackey blamed the media in a statement.

Gary R. Welsh said...

That may be that Brizzi didn't know what the left hand was doing, my only point is that Friday's Star report and the WISH-TV report are contradictory, but both cite the prosecutor's office as the source of their information. Schneider says nothing in her Friday story about an ongoing investigation of Nichol, but clearly says Carraway continues to be investigating, citing Roger Rayl as the source. WISH-TV, on the other hand, says Nichol continues to be investigated while Carraway's investigation had been concluded. Is it possible the prosecutor's office told two different reporters different information? Perhaps.

Anonymous said...

I think there is an important question to be answered...Does Brizzi know what is going on in his office?