Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Democratic Mayoral Candidate Larry Vaughn Accuses Council Members Of Accepting Bribes

Larry Vaughn
I wasn't able to catch last night's Indianapolis City-County Council meeting because of my participation on a blogger panel hosted by the Northside Tea Party and WCTY has not uploaded the archived video of the meeting to Indy.gov yet, although I've heard from several sources there were some fireworks that took place. Less than a week after he filed his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Indianapolis mayor, I'm told Larry Vaughn made an astonishing claim that ten members of the council had accepted bribes for approval of Mayor Ballard's decision to award a 35-year, $1.75 billion contract to WMB Heartland Justice Partners, LLC to build, operate and maintain a new criminal justice center.

During public comments at last night's meeting, Vaughn held up an envelope that he said contained the names of ten council members who each received a $10,000 annuity in exchange for their vote on approval of the controversial criminal justice center project. Vaughn taunted but did not provide the names of those council members. The allegation may just earn Vaughn a visit by local FBI agents. The Democratic-controlled council has publicly stated it will not conduct a public hearing on the proposal until the Ballard administration produces information the council is requesting on the deal, as well as provide answers members of the ROC Investigating Committee have been seeking on the awarding of a nearly $20 million, one-sided, 25-year lease for the Regional Operations Center at the former Eastgate Mall to a politically-connected campaign contributor.

Sparks also flew when Councilor Jack Sandlin (R) filed paperwork disclosing for the first time that his business, Jack Sandlin & Associates, has a financial interest in government contracts with the Marion Co. Prosecutor's Office and Crawford & Company. According to a conflict of interest statement filed by Sandlin, his business serves court papers to responding parties on behalf of the child support division of the prosecutor's office and provides Special Investigations Unit services as a subcontractor for Crawford. According to Crawford's website, the Atlanta-based company is "the world's largest independent provider of claims management solutions to the risk management and insurance industry as well as self-insured entities." Democratic council members complained Sandlin should have disclosed the information before now. Councillor Joe Simpson and Stephen Clay, both Democrats voted against accepting Sandlin's belated disclosure. The council did not act on a suggestion by one council member, Bill Oliver (D), that the matter be referred to the ethics committee for further investigation. Sandlin declined to say how much he's paid under the two contracts.

A very brief story by the Indianapolis Star's Brian Eason made no mention of Vaughn's allegations or the Sandlin disclosures. Eason's story merely mentions the re-election of Maggie Lewis and John Barth to their respective roles as president and vice-president of the council. His story mentions that Republicans placed in nomination their leader, Mike McQuillen, for council president, and that one Republican member, Christine Scales, voted for Lewis' re-election. Council Republicans earlier expelled Scales from the caucus because she refused to play ball with all of the corrupt shenanigans being pulled by Mayor Ballard's administration. Scales later explained her vote by saying McQuillen had never sought her support and if he had, she would have opposed him. Scales said McQuillen has done nothing but "cast aspersions" upon her and has taken actions to hurt her and her constituents.

Meanwhile, the local media continues to do a pathetic job in reporting on the criminal justice center project. Fox 59 News like the balance of the local news media continues to do little more than provide the Mayor's talking points. Ballard appeared on the Fox 59 this morning where he claimed urgent approval of the deal is necessary so the developers can obtain cheaper financing.
“So that the developers could go get the money at the rate that we want them to get,” said Ballard. “If we got it done right now, actually we were estimating it yesterday, that it would probably come in a million dollars annually less, just under a million dollars less, if we did it today because of the cost of money. 
“So if they go past a certain point then what we presume to be the deal, if you will, by the cost of money probably would not apply anymore, so they have to have their deadline to make sure they can go to the market and do what they have to do.”
If the council turns away the deal, the City will be out $15 million Ballard blew on the bidding process despite having no appropriation from the council authorizing him to make those expenditures. Ballard deferred payments on existing buildings to the Marion Co. Building Authority in order to award more than $12 million in no-bid contracts to political cronies. The City agreed to pay $750,000 each to the two losing bidders if they agreed not to contest the awarding of the contract to WMB Heartland Justice Partners, a provision which flies in the face of Indiana's non-collusion affidavit requirement in government contracting. That's something you will only read on Advance Indiana because the media is covering up every smelly aspect about this wretched deal. The administration has so far refused to release all of the proposals submitted by the competing bidders as is required by law. It says it won't release those documents until a final agreement is signed by WMB; however, it is demanding the council approve the agreement even before those documents are fully disclosed. This bidding process was wired from the get-go to award the bid to the Meridiam Infrastructure-led team and the same cast of characters who took California taxpayers to the cleaners on that Long Beach courthouse project upon which the Ballard administration modeled this P3 project.

UPDATE: Below is video from last night's council meeting during which Vaughn alleged ten members of the council had accepted bribes in exchange for their vote on the pending criminal justice center project and Councilor Jack Sandlin's explanation of his conflict of interest disclosure, which he says was triggered by a recent change in state law.


Anonymous said...

Larry Vaughn may not have proof that “ten council members who each received a $10,000 annuity in exchange for their vote . .” But, if the FBI was to dig deep, they could probably come up with at least ten that were sucking on the public teat.
For example, when Jack Sandlin receives tens of thousands of dollars from the City each year, it brings into question the independence he brings to the City Council. Is his vote bought and paid for? Is this why he blocked efforts to disclose the fraud associated with the ROC? Why wasn’t the Jack Sandlin matter was not sent to the ethics committee?
Gary, since it appears that these Sandlin contracts have been in place for years, why did they come up last night? What caused the sudden disclosure?

Guest said...

I was at the Tea Party meeting last night and thank you and the others for sharing your thoughts. It seems that you or Paul should run for mayor, after all Ballard was elected with very little cash. Only someone like you or Paul could begin to clean up corruption because of your awareness and behind the scenes knowledge.
Re, Tony Katz , who in my viewpoint can be forgiven as a newcomer for making an error in the Castleton location: He is the first to actually get a rise out of Carson and not be afraid to do it. As a person who has been in the "Carson forever" district either through the uninformed voters or more likely the machinations of the powerful to keep Julia and him there, I was happy to see him call Carson out. His exuberant personality just goes for it.

Rather than dismiss him, It seems to me after listening to your statements about the newspapers and other main outlets not investigating or talking about your findings he would be a great help in bringing some of this out. I would jump on that before the ones who are worried about those issues decide to try to get rid of him after the Carson incident and him daring to even censure Carson in any way.

Anonymous said...

Vaughn was used to discredit the critics of the CJ project.

Anonymous said...

One thing for certain based on my many years of observation-whatever benefits conferred on members of this council by persons or businesses interested in what they do in their official capacity far exceeds the modest salary they earn to serve on the council. That is the only conclusion I can reach based on the many actions they take against the interest of their constituents, in addition to circumstantial evidence of improved standard of living exhibited by expensive new cars, found jobs or contracts for the members and their spouses, many tickets to Colts and Pacers games, frequent vacations and so on.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't make the Tea Party meeting with such a last minute awareness on my part that the group even met there let alone were hosting Welsh/Ogden/et al... but I wish I had been in the crowd.

Gary Welsh as Mayor is an excellent idea. We taxpayers impoverished by both the crony Republicans and the thieving Democrats could finally have a Mayor we respect and believe in.

Anonymous said...

The City Council under the dubious leadership of Maggie Lewis and Indy's Worst-Ever Mayor Greg Ballard is a farce.
Fop McQuillen and all the other stooges we have for "leaders"... and I heartily include the thieving Democrats alongside the crony RINO Republicans... are a sorry group of featherbedders.

Jon E. Easter said...

Good reporting, Gary.

Larry Vaughn sure makes things interesting.

Anonymous said...

Anyone think there's truth to Vaughn's claim?

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be shocked if Vaughn's claim is at least *partially* accurate.

He may be an "unlikely" candidate, but opening a race with slander is crazy! True or false, he's the most interesting thing going on in this race already...