|Tom Charles Huston|
Huston, now a retired partner and of counsel attorney for Barnes & Thornburg, is the infamous author of the Huston Plan that former White House counsel John Dean turned over to Chief Judge John Sirica, otherwise entitled, "Operational Restraints on Intelligence Collection," during the height of the Watergate investigations. Huston, a White House aide, prepared a 43-page report in 1970 in response to President Nixon's request for the coordination of domestic intelligence, including the gathering of intelligence on "left-wing radicals" and the "anti-war movement." Huston served as the White House liaison to the Interagency Committee on Intelligence, a group which was chaired by former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Huston reportedly worked closely with Hoover's assistant, William C. Sullivan, in drawing up what became known as the Huston Plan. Sullivan, incidentally, was the intelligence officer at the FBI who dug up dirt on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s extra-marital liaisons and mailed the information to King's wife, Coretta Scott King. Sullivan described King as a "fraud, demagogue and scoundrel" in one memo. Sullivan died a very suspicious death in a hunting accident in 1977 after being shot while on a hunting trip with other FBI agents shortly before the release of his tell-all book on Hoover.
To carry out domestic intelligence gathering, the Huston Plan endorsed the use of domestic burglary, illegal electronic surveillance and opening the mail of people deemed domestic "radicals." It even went so far as to recommend the creation of concentration camps to detain anti-war protesters. Incredibly, Nixon approved the Huston Plan and ordered it forwarded to the Directors of the FBI, CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency. Remarkably, the FBI's Hoover, now renowned for his illegal snooping into the private affairs of American citizens, was the only agency director to oppose the plan with the support of Attorney General John Mitchell, who pressured Nixon to rescind the plan but not before some of it had already been implemented by the Nixon administration. The Huston Plan, in short, became the blueprint for all of the crimes committed during Watergate. That included the creation of the White House "Plumber's Unit," the proposed fire-bombing of the Brookings institute, the break-in of the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist, the creation of a White House "enemies list" and the use of the IRS to punish enemies.
"Under Nixon, an attempt was made to institutionalize ….a blueprint for a police state in America," wrote author David Wise in "The American Police State." " Woodward and Bernstein wrote in "The Final Days," "And Nixon still had to account for what had been done in the White House: the Huston plan expanding covert domestic intelligence activities – wiretapping, breaking and entering, mail opening; the 1971 break-in at the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist; the ‘Plumbers’ unit which investigated news leaks; the seventeen wiretaps on reporters and Administration officials; orders to the Central Intelligence Agency to have the Federal Bureau of Investigation limit the initial investigation into the break-in at the Watergate headquarters of the Democratic National Committee; payments to burglars to buy their silence."
Notwithstanding the blatantly unconstitutional and illegal plan forwarded by Huston while he served as a top aide to President Nixon, his legal career flourished at the Indianapolis-based law firm, Barnes & Thornburg. According to his biography on the firm's website, he "concentrates his practice in real estate finance, leveraged leasing, and the acquisition and disposition of real estate assets." His bio says he played a key role in advising the city of Indianapolis on the development of Circle Centre Mall, although he was actually representing the interests of the Simon family, which has operated the mall built with taxpayer dollars since its opening on terms very favorable to the family. He has also represented insurance companies and banks.
Barnes & Thornburg has grown into Indiana's most powerful law firm. By many accounts, the firm totally controls every action undertaken by Mayor Greg Ballard. The firm's managing partner, Bob Grand, dictates who may serve as the City's corporation counsel. He tapped a former associate of his law firm, Chris Cotterill, to serve as Ballard's first corporation counsel. Before becoming the city's corporation counsel, Grand outsourced Cotterrill to run the state's IT infrastructure under Gov. Daniels, where he oversaw all of state government's computer systems (a position I might note that allowed him to monitor every single e-mail sent or received by state employees if he so desired!). After Cotterrill moved up to become Ballard's chief of staff, another Barnes & Thornburg associate, Samantha Karn, was tapped by Grand to take over as corporation counsel. Employees of the corporation counsel's office know their jobs could be in jeopardy if they don't play ball with the Barnes & Thornburg attorneys and follow their orders, whether the firm's wishes are in the best interest of the city and taxpayers or not.
Under Ballard, no other city law firm has receive more outside legal work than Barnes & Thornburg, which has billed the city for millions of dollars in legal fees in the last three and a half years alone--work that could have been done at a fraction of the cost by city attorneys. Grand served as Ballard's first President of the Capital Improvement Board despite his firm's conflicting role as legal counsel for Simon Property Group and the Indiana Pacers. Grand convinced Ballard to back a $33.5 million give-away to the Simon-owned Pacers, which was financed, in part, by higher taxes and a continuing large annual subsidy from the State of Indiana. Grand and another Barnes & Thornburg lawyer, Joe Loftus, while working as taxpayer-paid advisers to Ballard, also helped convince him that he should privatize the city's parking meter assets. Conveniently, the firm represented ACS, which received the one-sided 50-year lease for the parking meter assets, a deal that could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in profits for the company. Another Barnes & Thornburg attorney, City-County Council President Ryan Vaughn, who was hired to work as a lobbyist for the firm shortly after Ballard's election, led the parking meter initiative through the council. According to insider accounts, Vaughn twisted the arms of several of his fellow Republican councilors to back the unpopular proposal. Vaughn similarly pushed through the council the sale of the City's utility assets to Citizens Energy. After the deal was inked, taxpayers learned the City of Indianapolis had agreed to pay a $29 million break-up fee to another Barnes & Thornburg client, Veolia, which had been heavily criticized for its poor management of the water company and which had been questioned by the IURC about unsubstantiated bonus payments made by the city during its nearly decade-long contract to run the water company.
Similarly, the law firm has been awarded substantial legal work for the state of Indiana under Gov. Mitch Daniels, even when conflicts of interest would advise against such representation. This became all too apparent when Gov. Daniels tapped the law firm to represent FSSA in its lawsuit with IBM over the privatization of the agency's welfare services. Even the written engagement agreement acknowledged the firm's conflict of interest insofar as it had served as counsel for ACS, the company that partnered with IBM on the work and whose services were retained after the state cancelled its contract with IBM. The firm had even lobbied the Daniels' administration on behalf of ACS to award the contract to the partnership between IBM and ACS, a short-sighted decision that has cost taxpayers at least $500 million.
More to the point of this article, Barnes & Thornburg has served as counsel for the City of Carmel in a variety of capacities, including bond work, economic development and employment law matters. Following the recent departure of Regional Performing Arts CEO Steven Libman, Fox 59 News uncovered the fact that the City of Carmel had retained the services of International Investigators, Inc., an Indianapolis-based investigation firm that has a storied past, to investigate the sex life of Libman in an effort to prove he was having an extra-marital affair with one of his fellow employees. Although Libman was not an employee of the city, Mayor James Brainard told reporters that he feared the city would become liable for sexual harassment or sexual intimidation charges filed with the EEOC if he hadn't intervened by ordering an investigation of Libman. [Note: Carmel City Councilor John Acceturo has noted that contracts between the city and the Regional Performing Arts Center required the nonprofit foundation to indemnify the city against any and all forms of liability]. Brainard has also claimed Libman used nonprofit funds improperly for the purpose of entertaining his mistress. Libman was confronted with the evidence gathered by Three Eyes and forced out of his job under threat of public disclosure of his extra-marital affair.
Fox 59 News' Anne Yeager learned that the City of Carmel had not only paid more than $8,000 to International Investigators to investigate Libman's sex life in recent months, but that the City had employed private investigators under a contract for the past decade investigating undisclosed activities of private citizens. In his book "Deadline: Indianapolis", former Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Dick Cady detailed the relationship the firm known as "Three Eyes" had with the Indianapolis Police Department under former Mayor Richard Lugar back in the late 1960's and early 1970's. Cady charged in his book that the corrupt chief of IPD, Winston Churchill, had used federal grant money to purchase surveillance equipment that the department turned over to Three Eyes to conduct surveillance work on behalf of the department. The firm's owner, Tim Wilcox, denied taking possession of the surveillance equipment; rather, he claimed he only tested it for the department and determined it wasn't of much value. Here's a small sampling of what Cady described in his book took place during this dark era that took place at the very time Tom Huston was formulating his Huston Plan to carry out what would later become the Watergate crimes that sank President Nixon's presidenncy:
In February 1971, IPD had purchased some sophisticated electronics equipment, including bugging devices, from Bell & Howell. There were turned over to C. Timothy Wilcox, the president of the Three Eyes. Wilcox apparently violated federal law by taking possession, Rossman said. That wasn't all. Wilcox instructed Rossman to begin visual surveillance of Wise's apartment . . . He said Wilcox was a Republican precinct committeeman and friend of Keith Bulen. Several years earlier, Wilcox had attempted to "bug" the Marion County headquarters of the Democratic Party . . .
Now Mrs. Kelly offered specific information. At campaign headquarters on election night in 1970, private detective Tim Wilcox told her he had broken into the offices of U.S. Sen. Vance Hartke, a Democrat, and had enough to put Hartke in jail," but the Republicans wouldn't let him use the material. During the 1971 election campaign, Wilcox and another man had planted an electronic bug in a room in a downtown building where a meeting of Democrats was held. She had been asked to transcribe the tapes. Buena Chaney, the state Republican chairman at the time, knew about the illegal eavesdropping. Mrs. Kelly also said Wilcox had asked her to help set up Congressman Andy Jacobs, Jr. He wanted to get Jacobs in a situation where he could be blackmailed . . .
Not surprisingly, Richard Lugar became Nixon's favorite mayor and Marion Co. GOP Chairman Keith Bulen enjoyed a closer relationship with Nixon than virtually another other Republican party leader in the country. Lugar has also enjoyed strong political support from Republican attorneys at Barnes & Thornburg during his six terms in the Senate, including its managing partner, Bob Grand. Grand's son interned in Lugar's Senate office. It should also come as no surprise that the infamous author of the Huston Plan would hang his shingle out in Indianapolis in 1971 after leaving the White House.
If the Carmel City Council is really interested in learning about how it came to be that its own mayor was using Three Eyes to investigate the private lives of Carmel residents, it probably should begin by asking questions of the law firm to which it has been paying very lucrative legal fees under Mayor Brainard. Doesn't the secretive use of private investigators by a local government just become short-hand for black ops funding of things for which the council would never appropriate funds if it knew in advance the purposes for which the money was being spent? It's no telling what kind of information the city council will learn, if it dares to turn over those stones, which could become a very treacherous undertaking for the unsuspecting. What is happening in Carmel is no different on a local level than what took place during the Nixon White House. Are there any aspiring Bob Woodwards or Carl Bernsteins left in our dimishing pool of local news reporters to dig for the truth?
Click here to read my post entitled, "What Is Jim Brainard's Campaign Hiding?" about how Brainard laundered nearly 90% of his campaign expenditures (close to a half million dollars) during his re-election campaign four years ago through Stakeholder, Inc., a political consulting firm owned by Allan Sutherlin in order to circumvent the requirement that candidates for office in Indiana itemize all of their campaign expenditures.