Brown said five Democratic council members have said they’ve been contacted with promises of $10 million in projects in each of their districts if they vote to approve the 35-year deal between the city and WMB Heartland Partners.
“In discussions with certain councilors, they said they were promised large infrastructure projects in their districts if they voted yes,” Brown said Wednesday, a day after a council committee rebuffed the proposal.
He said the offered projects include major improvements to parks, streets and sidewalks. “The talk is, it’s targeted to certain districts, so not all councilors are being offered,” Brown said.Brown told Stafford that council members were perplexed and contacted him, wondering just where the administration plans to find that much money to fund the projects being promised to them in exchange for their votes. Stafford contacted Mayor Ballard's point man on the project, David Rosenberg, who denied the allegations. “That’s honestly the first I’ve heard of that,” Deputy Mayor David Rosenberg said in an email. “Not sure where any of that money would come from, so I’m not sure where the rumor is coming from.”
In January, Democratic mayoral candidate Larry Vaughn made a shocking allegation at a council meeting that ten council members had been offered $10,000 annuities payable to them in exchange for their votes in support of the P3 project. Vaughn later told Advance Indiana he met with an FBI agent to turn over the list of names he had been furnished, which he claimed included both Democratic and Republican members.
City-County Councilor Christine Scales had a fire department ladder truck pulled from her district earlier in Ballard's current term in office after she feuded publicly with the administration over some of his initiatives. Scales later claimed that Public Safety Director Troy Riggs had offered to return the ladder truck to her district if she voted for a certain candidate backed by the administration in the council president's race. Republicans booted Scales from their caucus after she refused to sell her vote and answered FBI questions about what she considered an offer of a bribe. Ironically, the Republicans never booted Lincoln Plowman from their caucus even after he was indicted by federal prosecutors for accepting a $5,000 bribe.
Republican minority leader Mike McQuillen has been frantically working the phone lines following Tuesday night's vote by the Rules & Public Policy Committee along party lines to kill the project. McQuillen is seeking support from at least 15 council members to discharge the criminal justice center proposal from committee for consideration by the full council. At least two Republicans have expressed opposition to it. In addition to Scales, Councilor Ben Hunter joined Councilor Mary Moriarty Adams (D) in calling for the administration to put the project on hold until after this year's election when a new mayor will be elected. Sources tell Advance Indiana that despite Democratic mayoral candidate Joe Hogsett's wish that the P3 project be dropped, Ice Miller lobbyist Lacy Johnson, who is lobbying on behalf of WMB, holds considerable sway over several black members of the Democratic caucus who are being targeted to buck council leadership and join McQuillen's bloc of Republican votes in support of the project.
UPDATE: Advance Indiana has learned that the five council members targeted by the administration and WMB lobbyists are all African-American, including: Stephen Clay, Monroe Gray, LaKeisha Jackson, Bill Oliver and Vop Osili. Osili is a member of the Rules & Public Policy Committee, which voted down the proposal Tuesday night. Osili joined other Democratic members of the committee in voting against the proposal.