Tuesday, March 03, 2015

House Speaker Notified Ethics Committee Of Indy Eleven Conflict After Advance Indiana Reported On Ethics Committee Chairman's Conflict

After Advance Indiana exclusively reported that State Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon, Chairman of the House Ethics Committee and Assistant Republican Caucus Leader, had been representing Indy Eleven owner Ersal Ozdemir and several of his real estate construction and development companies for several years in contentious litigation with a former business partner being heard in the Hendricks Superior Court, House Speaker Brian Bosma penned a letter to Steuerwald and the ranking minority member of the House ethics committee, State Rep. Clyde Kersey (D-Terre Haute), advising the Ethics Committee of his intent to recuse himself from participating in legislative action on HB 1273.

HB 1273, authored by State Rep. Todd Huston (R-Fishers), provides enabling legislation to allow for the public financing by the Capital Improvement Board of a new $83 million soccer stadium for Ozdemir's Indy Eleven minor league soccer team in downtown Indianapolis. Bosma's letter is dated February 13, 2015, the same day Advance Indiana first reported on Steuerwald's conflict of interest, noting he had supported and voted on soccer stadium legislation passed by the House last year which ultimately died in the Senate. Bosma wrote in his letter:
I am writing to inform you that the Indy Eleven soccer team, which is currently advocating for the passage of HB 1273, is a client of the law firm of Kroger, Gardis & Regis, LLP, where I am a partner. Although I do not believe that I have a direct personal or pecuniary financial interest in HB 1273 under the House Rules, it is in the best interests of the House of Representatives if I do not participate in proceedings regarding the bill. Therefore, I do not intend to preside when the bill is on Second Reading or Third Reading, and I will asked to be excused from voting.
I have carefully considered this course of action and believe it is necessary to safeguard the public's trust in the Indiana House of Representatives. Thank you for your attention to this matter.  
Bosma's February 13 letter did not give the impression he was personally performing the legal work for the Indy Eleven. Yet a report by the Indianapolis Star the same day HB 1273 passed the House by a wide margin without Bosma or Steuerwald's participation, which only mentioned in passing Bosma's first disclosure of his conflict of interest, gave the impression Bosma had been directly involved in that legal work. "He disclosed after the vote that he had done legal work for the Indy Eleven and has remained neutral," the Star reported "That work involved trademarks and contract negotiations." "I don't have an (ownership) interest in it," Bosma said. "Honestly, I'm just trying to set the example for others and felt it was appropriate for me to file a letter (with the House ethics committee) and be excused." State House media reports ignored the fact that Steuerwald had also risen on Second and Third reading of HB 1273 asking to be excused from voting. The presiding officer asked Rep. Steuerwald to put his request in writing before allowing him be excused from voting on HB 1273.

The House Republicans began this year's legislative session announcing tougher ethics rules to help remove the cloud hanging over the legislative body following disclosure of former State Rep. Eric Turner's active lobbying of colleagues during last year's legislative session on legislation that would have negatively impacted his family's nursing home business. A key change in a new ethics code covering House members' conduct requires them not to vote on or sponsor legislation in which they have a personal financial interest, along with not carrying out any public or private advocacy on such issues. "That is a very high standard," Steuerwald said in commenting on the new ethics code. "It began as a judicial standard and has slowly incorporated itself for lawyers and now we have put that standard here for the House members."

UPDATE: It's worth noting that Bosma released his letter to the media only hours before the State House press corp joined state lawmakers and lobbyists they're supposed to be covering for a night of partying at their annual Indiana Gridiron dinner where they put on full display out of the public's view just how incestuously close they've become to the subjects the public relies upon them to report honestly upon.


Pete Boggs said...

Boehner & treasonous a-holes in the "Republican" establishment, officially dissolved the party today.

Anonymous said...

It is LONG past time for this outsized egomaniac to be retired. He is a total embarrassment to his party and to the State. He admits he is bought and paid for by a special interest after being exposed. Yeah, I am really impressed at this guy's "ethics". So impressed I'll never cast a vote for him. Never ever.

Anonymous said...

People's Agenda 2007. Told you all then. Hold them all responsible now.

Anonymous said...

I just wish that the portion of the public that does not wish to investigate their candidates nor the issues...please stay away from the polls. A lazy and apathetic electorate is leading us down the fast path to destruction.

Josh said...

Advance Indiana gives me hope for Indiana.