Friday, October 16, 2009

Self-Interested Docs Financing Wishard Referendum Campaign

Tucked away in the Indianapolis Star business section today is a small story on how a couple of physicians groups have donated more than $1 million to Citizens for Wishard, a political action committee formed to promote passage of the November 3 special election. The story reads:

Two physicians groups have contributed more than $1 million to the cause of getting a "Yes" vote Nov. 3 in the Marion County special election that would allow Wishard Health Services to move ahead with plans to build a new $754 million hospital.

IU Health contributed $750,000, and the IU Medical Group Foundation gave $300,000, according to financial filings from Citizens for Wishard, a political action committee. The Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce contributed $1,000.

"The outpouring of support for a new Wishard that we have received from across the community has been amazing," said Dr. Christopher Stack, president of Citizens for Wishard, in a written statement. "We are particularly grateful for the financial support from local medical organizations -- it shows how much Wishard means to our doctors, nurses, surgeons and medical administrators and their level of commitment to keep Wishard serving Indianapolis."

Citizens for Wishard has spent $284,871 with Hirons & Co., a local public relations and advertising firm. That money has gone for advertising, public meetings and other outreach efforts.

According to information obtained by the Indianapolis Taxpayers PAC, Wishard Health Services pays IU almost $50 million annually to lease professional medical services from IU to staff Wishard Hospital. It's quite obvious these physicians have a vested self-interest in the outcome of the November special election vote. Marion County property taxpayers will be on the hook and be forced to pay as much as $54 million a year in higher property taxes if the Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion Co. has insufficient revenues to repay the bonds it plans to issue to build the new county hospital. Not surprisingly, many of the doctors who contribute to this PAC do not live in Marion County and won't have to pay those higher property taxes.

UPDATE: Early voting numbers show considerably fewer people voting to date in the special election than last year's primary or general election, although they're running ahead of last year's special election voting in the 7th District congressional race, which does not include all of Marion County. Here's the numbers from the Clerk's office:

This week 202 voters visited the Clerk’s office to vote early, bringing our ten day total to 493. To compare to previous elections:

260 voters in the first two weeks of early voting in the ’08 Special Election

902 voters in the first two weeks of early voting in the ’08 Primary Election

5984 voters in the first two weeks of early voting in the ’08 General Election


Downtown Indy said...

"The outpouring of support for a new Wishard that we have received from across the community has been amazing..."

The three - count 'em - three folks from the community who've contributed $125 to the effort so far?

If there's really an 'outpouring of support' it's clear they are not pouring out money.

Whatever mass of humanity they're referring to, I'm confident it will find itself generating an even larger outpouring of amger once they discover they were duped by the 'no taxpayer money' (broken) promise.

Paul K. Ogden said...


I wouldn't put too much stock in that. I have no doubt there is a lot more individual support for the Wishard referendum than three individuals.

What they are doing most likely is funnelling individual contriutions through the nonprofit 501c3 corporations which combined gave over a million dollars to the Wishard effort. That allows the individuals to take a tax deduction on political contributions which are not normally deductible.

It is probably something that would earn a red flag from the IRs.

Guest said...

I am actual property tax paying homeowner living in Marion county, not one of the student minions sent out with talking points, not the doctors which probably do not live in Marion County, not a renter having no vested interest in property ownership, nor am I the editor of the Star which chose to endorse this giving approximately one paragraph to the reasons to vote no. Since they have all fallen negligent in their duties , I shall give you the homeowner voter a few reasons to vote no. They have told us, "No tax increase to you". If that is the truth they would use general revenue bonds to build this. They told us, they do not need our money-Then great, leave us out of it and go ahead and build it-So vote No.
The truth is they are trying to turn the argument from funding which you will pay, to wants and needs using the poor and our injured policeman in the process. When you say no, they will go ahead and do the right thing and build it without obligating the property taxpayer-Vote No