Despite that relationship, Steuerwald supported and voted for legislation last year providing for the public financing of a new soccer stadium for Ozdemir's Indy Eleven minor league professional soccer team in downtown Indianapolis. After Advance Indiana reported on Steuerwald's conflict, Bosma fired off a letter to the ethics committee disclosing legal work his law firm had performed for Indy Eleven and requesting to excuse himself from voting on this year's stadium financing legislation, HB 1273. Both Bosma and Steuerwald abstained from voting on HB 1273 when it came up for a vote in the House of Representatives last week on Second and Third Reading.
In today's Star story by Tony Cook and Mark Alesia titled, "Ethical dilemma? House Speaker Brian Bosma has ties to Indy Eleven," Common Cause's Julia Vaughn criticized the timing of Bosma's disclosure, although the story ignores the fact that it was prompted by Advance Indiana's exclusive report, while Bosma defended his actions regarding the matter.
“If it’s going to be meaningful to the process it has to be timely,” Vaughn said. “I think it would have been more transparent if he had put his cards on the table beforehand.”
Bosma defended himself by saying he has never voted on the issue or advocated for it privately.
“I feel like I handled it perfectly correctly with advice from legal counsel on how to do it,” Bosma said. “It was appropriate for me not to make any public statements about it and just to distance myself as much as possible so the normal legislative process could take place.” . . .
Bosma said he works on trademarks, contracts and sponsorship agreements for the team . . .
Bosma said he didn’t try to hide his relationship with the team. He said that last year he privately told Gov. Mike Pence and Senate President Pro Tempore David Long he couldn’t discuss the stadium issue because of his work for the team.
Bosma never publicly disclosed his work for the team until reporters pressed him for an opinion on the measure after Wednesday’s vote. Initially, he said he didn’t have an opinion on the bill. Only when a reporter told him that seemed unlikely did he explain he had done “some work with the team” and has “not been a public or private advocate” for the project.
He later voluntarily provided a copy of his Feb. 13 letter to the House ethics committee, although such letters are not public record.The Star report also discusses Steuerwald's belated disclosure of his conflict of interest and the fact he voted for the Indy Eleven stadium legislation last year and only abstained this year after Advance Indiana's reporting. Both Bosma and Steuerwald insisted that even tougher ethics rules pushed by them this year didn't require they abstain from voting on the legislation; rather, they did so for appearances sake. "Steuerwald . . . said the new ethics rules — which include language discouraging “the appearance of impropriety” — were the primary factor in his decision to abstain from voting this year, the Star reported. "That is a higher standard, so even though I had no pecuniary interest, no financial interest in the bill of any kind, I thought it would be best to avoid the appearance of impropriety," he said.
Keystone Construction's vice president, Paul Okeson, assured the Star the hiring of Bosma and Steuerwald by his boss' firm had nothing to do with their roles as state lawmakers.“This is Indianapolis,” Okeson said. "We’re sort of a big small city. It’s perfectly reasonable that at some point you might interact on a business transaction with someone who may be an official at the Statehouse," Okeson said. "But, it’s not like we do that exclusively. It’s not like we look to that for any undue gain. It’s part and parcel of doing business in Indianapolis." "Compared to our total (legal) spending, it’s not a significant amount with either of those two lawyers,” Okeson said." "Okeson said the lawmakers didn’t give advice on the proposed stadium and that the company uses 13 law firms." Okeson assured the Star that Ozdemir did not have any business relationship with other lawmakers. Vaughn told the Star she viewed the hiring of the two lawmakers as "a curious coincidence."