|(Left to right, Sen. Johnny Nugent, Rep. Jed McMillin and former Rep. Bob Bischoff)|
As a state representative, Bob Bischoff supported a $1.85 million government grant that largely benefited a single company — one that later cut him at least two checks for undisclosed amounts.
Another lawmaker, state Sen. Johnny Nugent, supported a $500,000 government grant to a tractor company — one that purchased Nugent’s business and continues to pay him $3,000 a month in rent.
And yet another legislator, state Rep. Jud McMillin, voted in favor of the same $500,000 grant — even though his law firm received more than $3,000 working on the project.
All three public officials deny that personal interests played a role in their decision to support the grants. But others say the latest findings in an Indianapolis Star investigation suggest that conflicts of interest and potential self-dealing are rampant within an economic development fund that has dished out $70 million in casino money to fund community development since 2006.Is anyone shocked, shocked, shocked to learn this is going on? When Argosy Gaming first landed a casino license in Lawrenceburg back in 1996 there were all sorts of payoffs, kickbacks and bribes occurring as part of the gaming license approval process for this particular casino, all of which got swept under the rug thanks to the Evan Bayh-run U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of Indiana at the time, which dumped all of the corruption uncovered by FBI investigators in the trash in order to cover up what transpired to protect a lot of important people who made an extraordinary return on their money as local investors in the gaming license. Former Marion Co. Prosecutor Scott Newman took a short-lived stab at investigating the tainted gaming license process before dropping it without much fanfare, a move that probably didn't hurt his chances of landing a partnership at Barnes & Thornburg, which represented Argosy, after he left the prosecutor's office.
Argosy, incidentally, won the first riverboat gaming license in Illinois for its first casino at Alton, Illinois, thanks in part to its corrupt, politically-connected founder William Cellini. After years of corrupt dealing in the Land of Lincoln that made Cellini a fortune worth hundreds of millions of dollars, the feds finally nabbed him on a couple of counts of conspiracy to commit extortion for his role in shaking down an investment firm that managed the state's teacher retirement funds for campaign contributions on behalf of the corrupt administration of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Ironically, the target of Cellini's extortion attempt was Tom Rosenberg, the producer of "Million Dollar Baby." Cellini is just completing his one-year sentence in the Terre Haute federal penitentiary.
The Star has taken a greater interest in the small potato stuff that's going on with these gaming revenue dollars today than it has other matters that deserved far more scrutiny back when the gaming licenses were first awarded in Indiana. The corruption arose from the requirement in the law that gaming applicants include local investors, which was just an open invitation for the sort of insider trading that should be frowned upon, if not prohibited altogether. A number of elitist insiders plopped down very small investments, most of whom were politically-connected to Evan Bayh, and then walked away with millions of dollars in their pockets after they sold out their interests to the out-of-state casino owners soon after the casinos were up and running. The same thing happened when Indianapolis awarded its cable TV franchises back in the 1980s. The out-of-state companies awarded the two franchises were required to include local investors, which turned out to be a who's who of the downtown mafia. Some of these investors realized a return of over 80 times their original investment when their interests were bought out shortly after the franchises were awarded. These same people are constantly scoring big wins on insider stock trading deals that never get prosecuted when whistle blowers contact the SEC. Just ask Tim Durham.
Apparently, there is an interesting side of Rep. Jud McMillin on which the mainstream media has chosen not to report. Before he became a state lawmaker, there were serious allegations of misconduct leveled against him by a 21-year old, female domestic violence victim he assisted while working as a deputy prosecutor in Dayton, Ohio. Apparently, the victim later decided she did not want the charges against her ex-boyfriend pursued, but McMillin, who the victim says had developed a sexual interest in her, threatened her if she did not agree to testify. See the affidavit of the crime victim here. The crime victim alleged that McMillin once showed up drunk at her apartment and propositioned her while still working on her case. Although he later removed himself from the case, the crime victim alleged that McMillin sent her sexually explicit photos of himself during a period she admits that she briefly became involved in a sexual relationship with him. According to the Bilerico blog, one of the photos showed McMillin jacking off while shoving a dildo up his ass. The blog also cited a law enforcement source for an allegation that McMillin was caught having sex with the young woman in his car in a state park. A real turn on, eh? McMillin resigned his job as a deputy prosecutor after his boss learned of the allegations. The victim later filed a civil lawsuit against McMillin, which she later agreed to voluntarily dismiss.