Monday, February 28, 2011

Lobbyists Thumb Nose At Indianapolis' Toothless Lobbying Law

After a little more than a year in effect, lobbyists before Indianapolis' City-County Government have decided there is no reason to bother complying with the registration and reporting requirements of the law because the Ballard administration has hinted it will do nothing to enforce the law. While 76 individuals registered to lobby last year according to the city's website, only 23 people (not counting the person registered by the first name "A" and last name "B") bothered to register this year, and that includes 7 attorneys with the law firm of Barnes & Thornburg, representing 30% of the total number of registered lobbyists. Perhaps it's no coincidence that the law firm's proxy that serves as the President of our City-County Council, Ryan Vaughn, is a high paid lobbyist for the firm who authored the lobbying ordinance. Lobbyists for Buckingham Properties, which won approval of a $98 million taxpayer loan and $40 million in public subsidies for its downtown real estate project North of South, did not bother to register to lobby this year despite their intense lobbying activities to win support for the project in recent months. They're probably paying for drinks on the house at Nicky Blaines tonight as they celebrate how easy it is to convince 16 councilors to stuff your taxpayer dollars in their pockets based on a pack of lies while the community endures the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and budgets for basic city services are being slashed.

Making the lobbying law further useless, the Ballard administration is not posting the reports filed by lobbyists last year. "The report requires disclosure of total payments received for each engagement, as well as a description of, and the costs associated with any item of entertainment, food, drink, honoraria, travel expenses, or registration fees given or provided to a city or county official, appointee, or employee," according to the instructions to lobbyists on the city's website. "Between January 1st and 15th of each year, a registered lobbyist, who is primarily employed and receives payment, or who contracts for financial consideration, exceeding $1,000 in any calendar year, shall file an annual report with the Department of Code Enforcement regarding lobbying activity for the prior year," the website instructs lobbyists on their annual reporting requirements.

Yep, the word is out. Ignore the law. There will be no consequences. Even worse, the Indianapolis news media could care less whether the lobbyists comply with the law. The City of Chicago has more transparency than the City of Indianapolis. That's how bad it is. I'm telling you that if you want to conduct business in a city where the politicians are easily bought and bought cheap, and you have no fear of being prosecuted for your crimes, Indianapolis is the place in America to come. Don't mess with Chicago where there is a federal prosecutor looking over your shoulder, and there are two big newspapers competing with one another to dig for corruption constantly. Come to Indianapolis and be as corrupt as your heart desires. You will soon be designated a good civic leader, get plum appointments to boards and commissions, receive community awards and even accolades from a news media that is on the side of the people defrauding the taxpayers. Hell, the politicians in Indianapolis even like the drug dealers. Name another city in America where it gets that good for the morally corrupt at heart.

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