Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Will John's Firm Strike Political Payola On Ballard Win?

With Greg Ballard's upset win over Mayor Bart Peterson, Tom John's law firm appears poised to cash in on his victory. The Indianapolis Business Journal's Jennifer Whitson reports that, in addition to Tom John, John Lewis & Wilkins employees Ballard's campaign manager, John Cochran, as well as Maura Hoff, Lawrence Mayor-elect Paul Ricketts' local coordinator. Whitson writes:

Three members of a small, young, downtown law firm played key rolls in Republican election wins this month, boosting the firm’s profile as it tackles aggressive growth plans that include beefing up its lobbying business. John Lewis and Wilkins LLP set up shop on Monument Circle in 2005 and since then has grown from the three attorneys to 11, including partner Thomas John and associates John Cochran and Maura Hoff—all of whom had plenty to celebrate on election night.

As chairman of the Marion County Republican Party, John directed the strategy that helped the GOP regain a 16-13 majority on the City-County Council. Cochran ran Indianapolis mayor-elect Greg Ballard’s campaign and is now leading his transition team’s executive committee; John also is a member of the executive committee. And Hoff was a local coordinator with Lawrence mayor-elect Paul Ricketts’ campaign.

“Because of the results, it looks like we’re the type of people who have a crystal ball, but they just worked hard,” said John Lewis, the firm’s managing partner.

The gregarious 40-year-old South Bend native started the firm in January 2005 to try to get back to a time “before hourly billing killed the relationship” between attorneys and clients.

The originally constituted law firm, Lewis & Wilkins, was essentially born as a result of a sweetheart, million-dollar contract the law firm landed with the Attorney General's office when two employees of Attorney General Steve Carter left his employ to work for the state agency as independent contractors. The contractual arrangement was highly criticized at the time because the former Carter employees were both working for the AG's staff during the bidding process and, critics claimed, possessed inside information which advantaged them over competing law firms. Carter claimed the contract would result in a net savings for taxpayers, but others weren't convinced the same work could not have been performed by attorneys working for the state much cheaper.

As a candidate, Ballard criticized lucrative contracts the Peterson administration awarded to favored law firms as part of the wasteful spending he intended to cut out if he was elected. Ironically, his own campaign manager is now in a position of trying to parlay Ballard's win into a major windfall for the Republican county chairman's law firm at which he works. Will it be business as usual in the new administration? Or will Ballard put a stop to political payola for campaign cronies?


Anonymous said...

This self-promoting piece in the IBJ should put to rest the anonymous comments on the blogosphere about Tom John making shake-down calls already.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully with you around Gary, you'll keep the players honest.

Anonymous said...

I liked this part of the story:

“On election night, people from all kinds of law firms were walking up to [Ballard] and acting like they knew him since Cub Scouts,” said Mike McDaniel, a former Indiana Republican State Chairman and executive director of governmental affairs for Krieg Devault LLP. “If you’re fighting for an office the way Greg Ballard fought for that office, you remember the people who were there when nobody else was around you.”

Everyone who I know who talked to Tom John before the election said he disparaged Ballard's campaign and told them no to waste their money on his campaign. Intead he wanted them to give money to the party to help win back control of the council. This guy is no friend of Ballard's. I hope Greg is smart enough to know that, but given the fact he put John on his transition team, he must not be smart enough to figure this out.

Gary R. Welsh said...

anon 3:17, The transition team all hates me, which is rather ironic when you think about it, based on the fact I supported Greg when most of them were putting him down. Greg told me he liked me because I helped keep him honest. I'm just afraid he isn't surrounding himself with people who are very high on that concept.

Anonymous said...

You can start with Ike Randolph, Gary. He promised the entire gay community he would support us on the HRO. I attended a fundraiser at Chris Douglas' home based on his pledge. When the HRO came up for a vote, Ike refused to support it and refused to speak to any of us who supported him with dollars and votes in his council race. Mr. Ballard shows very poor judgment in putting any trust in Ike Randolph. I have since learned from many people he has a long history of being a pathological liar. He is also very hypocritical about his religion. Let's just say Ike doesn't practice what he preaches. He and Danny Burton have more in common than most people think, if you know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

Hey Greg, if you're reading this, your buddy Tom John told me not to contribute to your campaign. He told me to give the money to the county party because it would be more wisely spent.

Anonymous said...

Would it be redundant to say that
Ballard is going to be viewed
as a first class hypocrite who made unrealistic promises to voters just to get votes?

Wilson46201 said...

...and of course there's the peculiarity of Abdul Hakim Shabazz being "of counsel" to Tom John's law firm.

Anonymous said...

Tom Johns didn't do anything for Greg Ballard but undermine his campaign. Tom John's will get nothing from Greg.
Both him and Carl Brizzi are crooks at their best.
Greg will not buckle to a couple of slick lawyers in pin stripe suits.

Sean Shepard said...

It was not my impression that Tom John had very little to do with the recent Republican success in the election.

The outrage at high taxes and the focus that was kept on that by local activists had more impact. Arrogant incumbancy was also under attack this past cycle.

Ballard was ignored by his own party and he owes them nothing.

In my opinion he should look for opportunities to put Democrats and Libertarians in key roles if they are the best qualified and/or more interested in working for the people.

Bart Lies said...

I realized the story was a joke at the very first sentence:

"Three members of a small, young, downtown law firm played key rolls in Republican election wins this month"

by the time I got to:

"Because of the results, it looks like we’re the type of people who have a crystal ball, but they just worked hard"

Spoken like a 2nd backup quarterback claiming he's the reason his team won the game - after being put in with only 2 minutes to go in the 4th.

Anonymous said...

I do not recall Mayor-elect Ballard ever criticizing "lucrative contracts with law firms".
In fact, I don't recall him mentioning law firms or attorneys at all. The blogs did but Ballard did not.
Apparently, there appear to be many involved in the local GOP that like Tom John who are about to receive the spoils of war. A war that they did not fight by the way.
The best indicator of how things in the Ballard administration were going to be was the GOP CCC caucus meeting at Tim Durham's offices.
Tim Durham did not contribute a dime to Ballard until the horse was ready to cross the finish line. You will not find Durham's name on the first Ballard campaign finance report.
Before Ballard continues to keep awarding his newly found friends I would suggest that he at least send thank you notes out to the people who contributed to him in the early stages of his campaign.
I guess my money's not as good as Brizzi's.
I'm not the only one Ballard has failed to send a card of thanks to.
Same game just a different Mayor.

Anonymous said...

How does that old saying go? "You dance with the one that brung ya".
Someone may want to pass that on to the Colonel.
Looks like he's burning his grassroots along with the leaves in his yard.
I can't say it doesn't surprise me.

Anonymous said...

Tom John had zippo to do with Ballard's win. To claim otherwise now is fiction.

But it's Ballard's show. He can run it any way he sees fit.

I'd suggest that there are some leaders who put antagonists on their leadership team, to keep better track of them. But there are many, many on this list...

Ike is a snake. The HRO vote pales in comparison to his vote for Kite Develpopment featuring Whole Foods on the northside. He took five grand from Kite in his 2003 campaign, then did not recuse himself for a vote on this cruciual zoning case.

Silver lining: the developer pulled his own plus last month...fresh from neighborhood groups' strong resistance. Notwithstanding, of course, the superb job zoning officer Judy Conley did for this (and many other) case(s). Hey Judy, waddaya gonna do now?

She got hers. Her husband's name was mue after that vote, among thousands of neighorbood activists. Revenge is sweet.