NUVO: Could you explain what you feel is unique to the Marion County Prosecutor's Office in terms of its ability to prosecute white collar crime, not just in the business community, but in the Statehouse?Curry and Massa both make it sound like it has only been the past eight years that public corruption cases have not been pursued by the Marion Co. Prosecutor's Office. That's a bunch of baloney. I've lived in Indianapolis since 1990 and I haven't seen any serious public corruption cases pursued except for those rare instances where the powers that be decided someone had to be eliminated, such as former Clerk of the Courts Dwayne Brown. Julia Carson's political machine saw him as a potential political threat and saw to it that his career was promptly destroyed. For those of you who don't recall, Brown is the guy who had a fetish for women's feet, paid too close attention to some of his female subordinates and who got prosecuted for ghost employment charges that you could have put almost any statewide or local official in Indiana in jail for if a prosecutor wanted to aggressively enforce that law. If every politician in Indiana had been held to the Brown standard, few of them would still be standing. I'm wondering if either of the two prosecutor candidates were asked such questions about their personal conduct towards female subordinates while working in the prosecutor's office. I'm told by former co-workers at least one of the candidates had some issues in that regard.
Curry: First of all, there is no question whatsoever that the office in the last eight years has not had the ability nor the inclination to pursue 21st Century crime, white collar crime, political corruption matters -- it just hasn't happened. That would be another priority for me to restore the ability of the office to take on that sort of crime, which I know can happen because that's exactly what I did during my six years there. In terms of the political watchdog role of the office, the Marion County office is the only effective watchdog over state government. If there is corruption in state government and in the state legislature, it's going to fall almost exclusively to the Marion County Prosecutor's Office to investigate and prosecute those matters because state government sits here in Marion County.
NUVO: You've mentioned launching a Public Integrity Unit should you win. What would be its function?
Massa: It will be to investigate and, if the evidence warrants, fully prosecute cases of public corruption and crimes against public administration. The Marion County Prosecutor's Office at one time had a long-time tradition of doing just that, particularly under Prosecutors (Stephen) Goldsmith and (Scott) Newman. Typically people think more and look more to our federal partners for that kind of work, but I do think there is a significant role for the local prosecuting attorney's office to play and I'm eager to lead that.
But that's only a part of the ethics platform that we put through in the spring. I am, to date, the only candidate to pledge that I will not have any outside business interests, pledge to not serve on the board of any for-profit companies, and I pledge to not accept gifts as Prosecutor.
Massa should also know that Scott Newman dropped the most serious public corruption case during his tenure involving the awarding of gaming licenses in Indiana, for which he was dutifully rewarded with a partnership at a big law firm which coincidentally represented one of the targets of his investigation. Considine asked Massa about the perception he is part of the good old boys network that has run this state and city since the beginning of times and how he would separate himself from it. Massa's response:
I do it by doing the job, each and every day. And in that office, that means hammering criminals every day. If I am fortunate enough to get this assignment from the voters, that's going to be my only priority. I'm not going there so I can run for Congress. I want to be the prosecutor. I've been a prosecutor for 13 of the last 20 years and I now have the opportunity to be the Prosecutor, a job that means a lot to me.That last comment says it all. "If the voters afford me this responsibility, I am going to focus on that each and every day and not some of these ancillary issues your readers might have some concern about." Yep, that's what I thought. Don't worry about the guys in suits pulling all the strings. Let's focus on the down-and-out losers who can't put up a fight.
I have been very lucky in my career to serve two governors, three prosecutors, a (state's) chief justice, and a United States attorney. But I can tell you that by far the most satisfying work I have ever done was as a deputy prosecutor. If the voters afford me this responsibility, I am going to focus on that each and every day and not some of these ancillary issues your readers might have some concern about.
UPDATE: Marion Co. Democrats have launched a negative attack ad against Massa which questions his handling of the police brawl case during the Goldsmith administration. Massa claims the ad is false. He says Mark Stoner, who is now a Democratic Superior Court judge, handled the case. A new WISH-TV poll shows Curry leading Massa 46% to 40%.