Who's the attorney handling most of this work for the sheriff? It just happens to be Kevin Murray, who just happened to run Anderson's election campaigns in 2002 and 2006.
Anderson argues that he needs all of this extra legal assistance, despite the 27 public lawyers already employed to represent city and county agencies, because his department is so large and complex.
But sheriffs in other metro areas of similar size -- from Cincinnati to Charlotte -- make do with attorneys already employed by the public. In St. Louis, the sheriff pays all of $20,000 a year for legal advice . . .
Of course, the issue isn't just the money, although that's a substantial justification for public outrage given how tight city and county resources are stretched. Even more disturbing is the fact that Murray, closely associated with Anderson for years, is the chief beneficiary of the payouts.
Despite the sheriff's insistence that the public is well served by the firm's legal work -- he contends that Locke Reynolds has saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars -- Anderson should have realized that appearances are critical, especially in law enforcement . . .
As one of its recommendations last year, the bipartisan Commission on Local Government Reform argued that sheriffs should be appointed rather than elected in Indiana. One reason for that move would be to extract politics as much as possible from what should be a professional position. The outrageous Case of Sheriff Anderson and the Cozy Law Firm now serves as prime evidence in support of that argument.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Star: Bail Out Of Sweetheart Legal Deal
A Star editorial follows up on Monday's front-page story by Brendan O'Shaughnessy exposing the fact that Sheriff Frank Anderson's office has spent more than $3 million with his campaign manager's firm since 2003 instead of using the free services of the City's corporation counsel. "It's a sweet deal, to be sure -- but not for taxpayers," the editorial opens. The editorial points out that sheriffs in other major metropolitan areas utilize the services of government attorneys rather than more costly private law firms. The editorial explains what it doesn't like about Anderson's arrangement with Kevin Murray and his firm, Locke Reynolds: