Mayor Greg Ballard's chief counselor and lobbyist is apparently using his contract with the city to enrich other clients, most specifically ACS in the parking meter privatization scheme.Joe Loftus told the IBJ the Democratic attack on him is "unacceptable." Scott Olsen reports on Lofus' reaction:
Joe Loftus has been a frequent visitor to the 25th floor of the City-County Building. Loftus is the city's chief statehouse lobbyist and a counselor to Mayor Greg Ballard. The city's lobbyist registration shows Joe Loftus as registered to lobby for ACS, the company Ballard chose to award the potentially billion dollar parking meter privatization to. It is unknown whether Loftus consulted the Mayor on the deal or lobbied for ACS or both.
"It's awful that Mr. Loftus would take the taxpayers' money and put it into his left pocket while taking ACS's money to lobby the city and putting into his right," Marion County Democratic Party Chairman Ed Treacy said.
Treacy indicated that this conflict of interest was serious enough to question the entire parking plan. "Well, I guess we can add it to the list of questions, but did the Mayor try to get a good deal, or was he just trying to further his friend and political counselor's pocketbook?
When reached by phone Wednesday morning, Loftus acknowledged he has lobbied for ACS “for years,” but said he was not involved in the negotiations from either side.What people need to understand is Loftus' ties to ACS and its representatives run very deep. His former boss, Mayor Steve Goldsmith, worked for ACS. His fellow colleagues in that administration, Mitch Roob, Skip Stitt and Ann Lathrop, all later worked for ACS. Loftus and his law firm helped ACS obtain a large subcontract on FSSA's badly bungled privatization agreement for the agency's welfare services with IBM after Roob became Secretary of FSSA as an appointee of Gov. Mitch Daniels. Roob's successor later terminated the agreement under heavy fire and filed a lawsuit against IBM; the agency, however, allowed ACS to continue operating a criticized call center in Marion, Indiana that operates in a building owned by State Rep. Eric Turner and his son. Turner's daughter served as chief counsel to FSSA at the time the IBM-ACS privatization agreement was inked. She recently left the agency. It also hasn't gone unnoticed by this blog that Mike Huber, the Deputy Mayor who spear-headed the 50-year lease agreement with ACS on behalf of the Ballard administration, is a former associate of Skip Stitt, who is ACS' chief administrative officer in its Washington, DC office.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” he said. “Nobody’s ever attacked me like this. That’s not acceptable.”
Loftus further said he’s never discussed the parking deal with Mayor Greg Ballard and pointed to an ethics ordinance the mayor led that requires anyone contracted with the city to disclose other contracts.
During the transition between the Peterson and Ballard administrations, Loftus and Bob Grand, both partners at Barnes & Thornburg, played key roles as representatives of Ballard in helping choose people to serve in Ballard's administration. Loftus helped place Huber in a job with the Ballard administration. The old ACS hands likely played a key role in Huber's earlier hiring by the Daniels administration to work in his budget agency before he joined the Ballard administration. In addition to serving as Ballard's chief lobbyist, Loftus has also served as a mentor to members of Ballard's administration like Huber and meets often with them. Ballard appointed Grand as his first CIB President despite his obvious conflict of interest because his law firm represented the Simons and their Indiana Pacers. Ballard named yet another ACS hand to the CIB, Ann Lathrop. She first served as its treasurer and now as its president. It is hard to separate the ACS-Barnes & Thornburg ties from almost any decision of importance made by this administration. And lest we forget that Loftus hired City-County Councilor Ryan Vaughn as a high-paid lobbyist with the firm after Ballard's election. Vaughn later was elected as the City-County Council President. He has refused to recuse himself from participating in the approval of the 50-year parking meter lease agreement with ACS despite his firm's representation of the company that stands to make a lot of money off the agreement.