The most recent income tax return filed by the youth soccer league that Advance Indiana was able to locate on Guidestar stated that the 501(c)(3) organization engaged in no lobbying activities. Yet the nonprofit's website prominently promotes a State House rally planned for March 19, and the organization has been flooding its members with e-mail solicitations urging them to send supporters to the State House rally to lobby state lawmakers. E-mails urge "fans of the beautiful game of soccer" to come together "to share our passion for the Stadium for Indiana proposal now being considered by the Indiana General Assembly." Free t-shirts promoting the new stadium are being offered to anyone who shows up for the rally. A free catered lunch is being provided by Levy Restaurants for a "meet-and greet session with Indy Eleven's full roster, including autograph and photograph opportunities."
Parents complain to Advance Indiana that Clark has hijacked the statewide nonprofit organization for the benefit of his well-heeled client, who is no doubt paying him a large sum of money to lobby his former colleagues for passage of the publicly-funded stadium. Clark, a partner at Faegre Baker Daniels, is a member of the nonprofit's board of directors and serves as its president. The organization's executive director is Dave Guthrie. While some parents who have complained to Advance Indiana support the Indy Eleven, they question the use of the nonprofit to lobby on behalf of something that financially benefits Ozdemir's Indy Eleven. Several of the parents have attended Indy Eleven games at Carroll Stadium this past year and support the team but strongly object to a new stadium being built on the backs of the taxpayers when there are already perfectly viable facilities available to the team to use, including its current home. The Indiana Soccer Association reported annual revenues of over $1.8 million on its most recent tax return. The nonprofit's stated mission is to "develop youth by promoting the growth of, and an appreciation for the game of soccer in Indiana." Advance Indiana was unable to find a report on file with the Indiana Lobby Registration Commission indicating that the nonprofit is registered to lobby state lawmakers.
By this point, it has become abundantly clear that Ozdemir and his hired political hacks and lobbyists will stop at nothing to force Indianapolis taxpayers to build a monument to a shadowy businessman with questionable business ethics whose activities within this state are worthy of further investigating by appropriate law enforcement authorities, particularly in light of the damning allegations his former business partner has asserted against him in contentious litigation. As a result of Advance Indiana's earlier reporting, we now know that Ozdemir has put Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma on his payroll as one of his team's attorneys, as well as the chairman of the House Ethics Committee and Assistant Caucus Leader, State Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon). When will the paid State House media wake up and start doing its job in reporting all that's going on under the State House dome instead of just pumping out press releases handed to them by legislative advocates?
Here's the text of a recent e-mail sent out by the nonprofit:
200 W Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN
Thursday, March 19 – 10:00 a.m.
Indy Eleven Professional Soccer will lead a chorus of supporters to cheer on our vision for the 18,500-seat multipurpose stadium proposed for downtown Indianapolis. Beginning at 10:00 a.m., hear from key speakers on this initiative, learn about the latest details, meet the entire Indy Eleven team, enjoy a catered lunch, get your Stadium for Indiana t-shirt, and tour the Statehouse to see your representatives in action and meet with your legislators to share your support for this bill.
Rally for Indiana Itinerary
10:00 am - Formal rally held in South Atrium, featuring speakers representing various members of the soccer community in the Hoosier State
11:00 am - Catered lunch provided by Levy Restaurants and meet-and-greet session with Indy Eleven's full roster, including autograph and photograph opportunities!
12:00 pm - The official Indiana Statehouse tour begins (see more details below, including how to RSVP