Not surprisingly, Marion Co. GOP Chairman Tom John takes a very dismissive view of the whole matter. He works for Ice Miller as a lobbyist where Durham once worked and devotes his energy to landing plum appointments for his new wife's family members and government contracts for her business. "Marion County Republican Central Committee Chairman Tom John said he had no concerns about Durham's leadership of GIRFCO, which he said entailed making calls to donors seeking support," Gillers writes. "He said neither the Marion County Republican Central Committee, which has received $16,200 from Durham since 2003, nor GIRFCO, which has received $25,000, plans to return the money." The truth is that the party is broke and has nothing to return.
There seems to be consensus that Brizzi faces the most difficult dilemma because of his personal and business ties to Durham. Gillers writes:
Brizzi not only received a large donation -- $160,000 -- when he ran for re-election in 2006, he also trusted Durham to be his campaign finance chairman, which entailed seeking contributions and hosting a fundraiser. Brizzi has received $3,500 in cash donations from Durham since.Some Republicans are asking whether Democrats, who were quick to urge Republicans to give up the money they received from Durham, should be doing the same with the money they've received from the ISTA, which has been accused of securities fraud in a lawsuit filed this past week by the Secretary of State's Securities Division and is being investigated by the FBI. The ISTA PAC pretty much bankrolled the successful political campaigns of State Reps. John Barnes, Mary Ann Sullivan and Ed DeLaney, for example. I would like nothing more than to see Democrats forced to give up the millions they have received from the ISTA, which dwarfs the contributions Durham gave to Republicans; however, I think there is a fundamental difference between the two. The ISTA contributions would appear to come from money its member teachers contribute to the statewide union organization and not from any fraud its financial arm may have committed on Indiana's school districts, which appears to amount to $24 million. If it turns out that any of those contributions were derived from its financial activities in administering health and long-term disability plans for school districts, then I would agree that those contributions should be given up.
Then there is his personal and business relationship with Durham.
Brizzi has called Durham "one of my best friends." Durham footed the bill -- $4,500 -- to take Brizzi to the 2007 Super Bowl in Miami.
Brizzi even appeared in a YouTube video plugging Durham's son's campaign for high school office -- joking that young Tim Durham is "single-handedly responsible for bringing down crime in Indianapolis." The video starts with the aspiring teen politician pretending to take a bribe from a friend.
Brizzi's business relationship includes his decision to serve on the board of Durham's company Fair Financial, which is under investigation, and his ownership of what Brizzi once reported was more than $10,000 worth of stock in another Durham company, CLST Holdings, which is under scrutiny by the Securities and Exchange Commission . . .
Henry Karlson, an emeritus professor at Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis, agreed that Brizzi's relationship with Durham "could have a negative effect on his re-election if he wants to be re-elected. Particularly if he doesn't give (the money) back."
The IBJ's Greg Andrews has a story today on the obvious. Tim Durham only appoints close friends to the boards of businesses he controls regardless of their business acumen. We already know about Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi accepting a directorship with Fair Finance, from which he abruptly resigned after the IBJ began raising questions about the self-dealing loans Durham had the company make for his benefit. He put his buddy David Tornek, who co-owns the Touch restaurant in South Beach with Durham, on the board of CLST Holdings, which is now facing an SEC investigation. He put Dan Laikin on Fair Finance's board before he got nabbed by the SEC in a stock manipulation scheme at National Lampoon, another company controlled by Durham. Brizzi took his place on Fair Finance's board. When Brizzi left that board after a short time, Durham named his childhood friend and former WISH-TV reporter Scott McCain to take his place on the board. McCain also serves as an officer of Durham's Obsidian Enterprises. Durham helped out McCain and his wife financially when she suffered from ovarian cancer.