In the wake of this week's FBI raid of the offices of Tim Durham's Obsidian Enterprises and Fair Finance in Indianapolis and Akron, Ohio, respectively, one political candidate has dropped his candidacy and a congressman is calling on the federal government to seize Durham's assets in order to protect investors. Marion Co. GOP Sheriff candidate Tim Motsinger, for whom Durham recently held a fundraiser, announced he will return Durham's contributions and drop his bid for county sheriff. A statement on his website reads:
In light of the recent investigations concerning the non-campaign-related business affairs of my campaign finance chairman, I have made the decision that it is appropriate to return any and all financial contributions and loans that my campaign has received from him or his affiliated businesses.It is disturbing that Motsinger's campaign relied on Durham so much for financial support. According to Fox 59 News, Durham loaned Motsinger's campaign $200,000 from Fair Finance's funds. Yeah, you read that figure correctly. Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi has received over $160,000 from Durham in the past. He also faced the embarrassing disclosure this week that he had agreed to serve on the board of Fair Finance Co. He later resigned the board position after the IBJ began asking questions about the troubled company. Brizzi isn't speaking to reporters, but his press secretary issued this statement yesterday:
Unfortunately, this leaves my campaign in a non-competitive financial position.
Therefore, it is with regret that I have decided to end my campaign for the office of Marion County Sheriff.
I want to thank all the friends and loved ones that have supported my candidacy.
Mr. Durham recently asked me to serve on the Board of one of his companies, Fair Financial. While I initially accepted the position, I never attended a meeting of the Board, never voted as a Board member, was never involved in any of the business decisions of Fair Financial, and was never compensated as a member of the Board. Upon reading the October IBJ article and uncertain whether I had yet formally taken a position on the Board, I indicated to Mr. Durham that I was no longer interested in serving on the Board.WISH-TV's Jim Shallow takes a number of other Republican officials to task for accepting political contributions from Durham, including Gov. Mitch Daniels, Sen. Richard Lugar, Attorney General Greg Zoeller, State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, House Republican Leader Brian Bosma and Sen. Mike Delph. Interestingly, this same political reporter ignored $25,000 in contributions U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D-Indianapolis) accepted from Marla and Phyllis Stevens, who allegedly stole about $6 million from Aviva. His report says nothing about Democratic mayoral hopeful Brian Williams' past business ties to Durham. Williams was a co-founder of Obsidian Enterprises and served on its board. Although his resume has listed his relationship with Durham's company's, he quickly began contacting people yesterday, including this blogger, to distance himself from Durham. Shallow's report notes only one Democrat who received money from Durham. That would be U.S. Rep. Baron Hill. Both Hill and Durham grew up in Seymour. Daniels has received the most campaign money from Durham of any candidate at $200,000.
Unfortunately, many GOP candidates were encouraged by party officials to accept financial help from Durham despite plenty of warning signs that he was living far too extravagant of a lifestyle and had a number of legal disputes involving people with whom he did business. Candidates like Mike Delph had no knowledge of who Durham was until he ran for public office and accepted his contributions because party leaders touted him so highly. He plans to give up the money he received from Durham if the federal investigation reveals that Durham's money may have been the product of ill-gotten gains. The Marion County Republican Party asked Durham to host an annual holiday party at his expansive Geist mansion. Republican members of the City-County Council actually held their caucus to elect their leadership after the 2007 election at Durham's private offices atop the Chase Tower. Those same candidates will now have to cope with purging themselves with hundreds of thousands of dollars Durham gave them if this investigation ends where it appears to be headed.
There is news that Durham has links to the corruption case involving two Henry County law enforcement officers who are facing charges of ghost employment. Durham is listed as a witness for the state in that case according to WRTV's Rafael Sanchez. The two police officers involved in that criminal prosecution may have provided off-duty security work at lavish parties Durham put on at his Geist mansion. Those two police officers are represented by the same criminal defense attorney who is representing Durham, Indianapolis attorney John Tompkins. People might be asking if these two officers worked for the private security company owned by former Marion Co. Sheriff Jack Cottey, who is also tied to Tim Motsinger. Did Cottey's firm staff those parties? There was a story circulating around town awhile back about FBI agents being staked outside Durham's residence taking down the license plate numbers of all of the guests at one of his parties.
Meanwhile, there is even more fallout in Ohio where Fair Finance is headquartered. Congressman John Boccieri (D-OH) put out a statement asking the federal government to seize the assets of Durham and Fair Finance. The Akron Beacon Journal describes the offices of Fair Finance as "emptied" after the FBI's raid on Tuesday. It also notes the decision of Ohio securities regulators to put on hold a pending $250 million security offering by the company. That means the company can no longer sell securities in Ohio since an earlier offering by the company matured this past week. "The company routinely advertised consumer financial products that paid high interest rates and were not federally insured," the paper reports. Investors there worry that their investments with the company may be lost.