Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Greed Is Good: Kuzman Leaves Behind Legislature For Greener Pasteurs At Ice Miller

Reading Jim Shella's blog entry this afternoon about Rep. Bob Kuzman's decision to resign from the House of Representatives to become a lobbyist at Ice Miller, I couldn't help but think of Gordon Gecko, the fictional character Michael Douglas played in the movie, "Wall Street". Remember the famous line: "The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right; greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms, greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed . . . "

On Kuzman's resignation, Shella writes:

Rep. Bob Kuzman is the latest lawmaker to cross over. Kuzman (D-Crown Point) informed House Speaker Pat Bauer today of plans to leave the General Assembly and become a lobbyist.

Kuzman begins tomorrow at Ice Miller after 11 years in the House. He will join former Republican lawmaker Luke Messer at the law firm.

Says Kuzman, "It's the right thing for the family." One of his children begins school in the fall.

Is it right? Ice Miller is one of those firms where most aspiring attorneys can only dream of working unless he/she ranks at least in the top ten percent of a law school class and has other notable qualities. There's always been one been exception though. If you're an effective influence peddler, the bar can drop pretty low. Even an under-achieving night law student who failed the bar examination three times can find a home at the firm if he's good at peddling influence (I'm not referring to Kuzman). As for ethics in our state government, this revolving door of lawmakers and state agency executives heading to greener pasteurs at law firms like Ice Miller gives the impression our government decision-makers are simply on loan until they are purchased by the highest bidder, leaving one to wonder who's really in charge of our government. It's certainly not a government of the people.


Anonymous said...

I don't begrudge Kuzman an opportunity to make a living.

But Ice Miller is a sleezy firm. I'm sure there are some great lawyers there, but they tolerate ethical gray-area the "scrivener's notes" in the Lawrence water utility case. Where they made hundreds of thousands in legal, er, scrivener's fees.

The ugly little secret about IM is that they underwrite probably 95% of the bond issues by local units of government all over the state. A legal opinion of the bonds' viability is required. I've been involved in several. Honestly, it's fill-in-the-blank work. And they rape local govts. for fees.

They also represented Carl Drummer in that ridiculous zoning case for 300 East. And for awhile, refused to acknowledge whom their client was.

Who replaces Juzman as chair of the Rules Committee will be critical--he presided over the killing of SJR7 last session, and it will surely return.

And, who replaces Kuzman in the House is important, too...the lat Sen. Anita Bowser was from the same area, and the goofs up there sent a lightweight in her shoes.

Anonymous said...

*Kuzman, not Juzman

Anonymous said...

This is the first time I have ever posted on this blog. I have been reading for a long time and often agree with what AI has to say. However, you are way off base here. Are you saying that someone who enters public service has no right to ever leave it in order to provide more for their family? It is as if those in public service cannot win. You get bashed for being a "lazy bureaucrat" if you stay in government, but are all of a sudden considered a greedy money-grubber if you leave government. You cannot have it both ways.

Advance Indiana said...

I'm just saying there is a disturbing pattern of people stopping off in government positions for a short time just long enough to perform favors and develop contacts and then take jobs in the private sector capitalizing on the favors and contacts. The legislator turn lobbyist phenomenon is becoming too frequent. Take a look at the absurd slots at tracks for property tax rebate the legislature contrived this past session. Was Kuzman a critical player in that? Yes. Which law and its clients benefitted substantially from that awful public policy enactment? How many former Speakers of the Indiana House lobbied on that particular issue? Three. Is this good for Indiana?

Anonymous said...

The fact that IM does 95% of the bond work for local govts is hardly a secret. They have one of the most highly regarded municipal finance practices in the Midwest. Its widely known and I'm sure IM wants it that way. The local govts are welcome to go elsewhere if the fees are too high.

Anonymous said...

9:52, you can go back to your Ice Miller job.

The dirty little secret is, they get in on these bond issues before anyone else gets a chance, more than half the time. I know first-hand. Few other firms get a sniff of the business.

And much of it is fill-in-the-blank work. Paralegals can do most of it. But they don't bill paralegal rates.

How do you explain the scrivener's thing? That was shameful. All done with fees paid by public or quasi-public agencies.

And they knew they were representing the Trustee in the 300 East zoning case. Yet they subuverted the process at every turn. On the public dime. about the airport, Lacy?
Open can, meet the worms.

Don Sherfick said...

To the commmenter who said Bob Kuzman was chair of the Rules committee who presided over the defeat of SJR-7: Kuzman was on the committee and voted against the measure, but the chair was, and hopefully will remain, Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City).

Anonymous said...

6:17...I was only speaking to the bond work. IM knows the bond market and if municipalities were really unhappy with the work that Ice Miller does that can have someone else do the legal work.

I don't work for Ice Miller or know anything about the other issues that you mentioned. Obviously IM ruffled your feathers somehow.