Sunday, March 04, 2007

Legal Experts Agree Brizzi Shouldn't Own Interest In Liquor License

The Star's Jon Murray revisits the issue of whether Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi (R) should be allowed to hold a 10% stake in Harry & Izzy's, a new restaurant/bar scheduled to open in Circle Centre Mall adjacent to St. Elmo's, both of which are controlled by Craig Huse and his father, Stephen. Murray writes:

Legal experts and a public watchdog questioned Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's decision to invest in a new restaurant and bar, but they said they wouldn't object to him seeking other investment opportunities . . .

Investing in a firm that sells alcohol is the problem, they say. By owning a nearly 10 percent stake in Harry & Izzy's -- a spinoff of St. Elmo Steak House -- Brizzi could be inviting trouble. Last week, Brizzi announced he was selling back his shares of the corporation that owns the restaurant and bar, pending a legal opinion from the Indiana attorney general on whether his involvement would violate a state law banning law enforcement officers from being issued liquor licenses.

Brizzi had invested $80,000, and he said he might buy back in if he's cleared. Count Henry Karlson among the idea's critics. He is a professor at Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis.

Alcohol sales are a highly regulated business for a reason, he said. Liquor stores and bars can play a role in an array of criminal cases that regularly land on a prosecutor's desk.
State GOP Chairman and partner at Baker & Daniels J. Murray Clark, who is advising Brizzi, sees no problem with his ownership interest in a liquor license. "Murray Clark, chairman of the Indiana Republican Party, has advised Brizzi on the restaurant investment and sees little problem, since Brizzi would be only a silent partner," "We're asking really good, qualified people to take pay cuts to (run for office)," Clark said. "We can all dream up potential conflicts."

Today's article doesn't mention it, but in the Star's earlier story Clark called the law in question, which prohibits law enforcement officers from having an ownership interest in a liquor license, as "archaic." The statute in question has actually been amended and re-enacted by the legislature no fewer than 5 times since 1973, the latest change taking place in 1999.

Democrats, who have been quick to criticize Brizzi in the past, have been noticeably silent during this latest controversy. "Clark's counterpart, Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker, declined to comment," Murray writes. It is worth noting Brizzi's office is currently investigating the embezzlement of state Democratic Party funds by a former employee of the party. Perhaps Democrats don't want to risk offending Brizzi while that investigation is still ongoing.


Wilson46201 said...

It would be a pity if personal pique would inhibit a professional prosecutor from doing his job. Is AdvanceIndiana implying that Carl Brizzi would likely be so petty and petulant?

Gary R. Welsh said...

No, I don't believe he's "petty and petulant", Wilson, but Democrats must fear he is or they would have taken the obligatory shots at him as they have become accustom to doing so well in the past.