Thursday, June 17, 2010

Prosecutor Candidates Competing To Be The Most Ethical

Here's a change. Past prosecutor's races have basically been an opportunity for the sale of justice to the highest bidder. This year, in the wake of Carl Brizzi's multitude of ethical problems, both the Republican and Democratic candidate are promising to operate their offices more ethically, and they are demonstrating that through the way they raise money for their campaigns this year.

Democrat Terry Curry has announced he will accept a contribution from anyone but will report within 48 hours any contribution he receives that is greater than $999.99. He will report monthly on all campaign contributions he receives. His self-imposed limit, however, does not prevent him from raising money from criminal defense attorneys or attorneys that are contracted by the prosecutor's office. Republican Mark Massa has pledged to return any contributions he receives from criminal defense attorneys, as well as attorneys under contract with the prosecutor's office. Massa is also pledging to post all contributions his campaign receives online within 48 hours.

[UPDATE: I notice from a press release put out by Curry's campaign that he is trying to tie Massa to Brizzi as much as possible. He notes that Scott Newman, Brizzi's campaign chairman served as Brizzi's mentor, and that Newman serves as legal counsel for John Bales, whose real estate deals with the state of Indiana involving Brizzi are being scrutinized by the FBI.]

This is a refreshing change. It would be nice if the candidates for mayor imposed similar rules on their own fundraising. Although Ballard promised a series of tough, ethics reforms as a candidate in 2007, he quickly forgot those promises and has basically been auctioning off city government from the day he took office. City contractors are being shaken down for huge contributions, sometimes within weeks of the awarding of multi-million dollar contracts, filling Ballard's campaign coffers with close to $2 million in contributions. Ballard offered contractors the opportunity to dine privately with him and his wife at St. Elmo's for $5,000 a pop. Ballard sometimes gives the appearance that he is using city resources for campaign purposes, which has been pretty standard fare in this town for decades, but because the U.S. attorney's office has been run by a bunch of political hacks for decades in this town, it continues to go on with impunity.

The leading Democratic candidate for mayor, Melina Kennedy, is unlikely to impose any such restrictions on her fundraising abilities. She is an attorney for Baker & Daniels, a law firm that raises big bucks for candidates of all political stripes and performs millions of dollars worth of legal work for the city. Former Mayor Bart Peterson, for whom Kennedy worked as a deputy mayor, helped bankroll her campaign for prosecutor four years ago as an insurance policy to prevent any serious investigation of corruption in his administration. She also took large contributions from the Simons after she helped square away the deal that tore down a city park so the Simons could build a new corporate headquarters across the street from the Capitol with $25 million in public funds and free parking for all of their employees in a city-owned garage. She also took large contributions from real estate developers who made off like bandits with millions in city-supported money during the Peterson administration for their private real estate developments.


Marycatherine Barton said...

I am for complete reform of the political process, and to 'help' the elected officials in Marion County and the rest of Indiana, stay honest, call for public financing of campaigns, and to be fair and instructive of voters, require equal access to broadcasting and print media to be allowed for advertising campaigns. How about that!

Tam said...

"This year, in the wake of Carl Brizzi's multitude of ethical problems..."

That's a delicate way of putting it. ;)

Indy Student said...


So Curry won't accept any amount over $999.99. But will only post donor info on his website if it's over $1,000?

Massa doesn't have these campaign-trail ethics on his site, at least not that I could find. Anyone have a link for either of the candidates?

Advance Indiana said...

Sorry about that. I meant to say he would only post online any contribution greater than that amount within 48 hours.

dcrutch said...

I don't think I've read a more compelling argument for voting for a Libertarian or independent candidate.

If the winner of the Mayoral election will be from the ranks of corruption or corruption (Ballard-Republican-Barnes & Thornburg or Kennedy-Democrat-Baker & Daniels), then I think you vote for the third candidate- or you "vote" against the corruption by not voting.

Wouldn't be the first or last civic protest.