Saturday, March 01, 2008

On LEOs And Politicking

In follow up to the citizen complaint Adam Longworth filed with the Marion County Election Board this week complaining about law enforcement officers employed by the Marion County Sheriff's department being used to stage press conferences and campaign commercials and photos for 7th District Democratic candidate Andre Carson, which was dismissed yesterday, I have some information to share with you. Chief Deputy Kerry Forestal, who has appeared at a press conference with Carson and shown up in television commercials and campaign photos in full uniform, told a source that all of these activities occurred at the Indianapolis Firefighters Hall on Massachusetts Avenue downtown and a UAW hall on Rockville Road. He insists none of his or other deputy sheriffs' activities took place on government property according to the source who spoke to him. Forestal is Sheriff Frank Anderson's heir apparent. He is already campaigning for the Democratic nomination for sheriff in 2010 and has both Anderson's and Carson's support. According to an FEC filing, Anderson, Forestal and the department's chief legal counsel, Kevin Murray, each contributed $1,000 to Carson's campaign. It is worth noting that Carson, a city-county councilor, voted against the recent ordinance transferring control of IMPD to the mayor's office from the Sheriff's Department.

Carson and his supporters see nothing wrong with the active participation of the Sheriff's Department brass in his campaign. The TV ads and campaign photos prominently display the recognizable faces of the department's top brass, including Forestal, in their police uniforms. Indeed, Indiana law, while prohibiting law enforcement officers from electioneering while in uniform, allows them to be photographed. It does not, however, allow law enforcement officers to engage in certain political activities while on duty and, in some instances, even while off duty. Sheriff's Department employees must remember that because it receives federal funding, some employees are subject to the federal Hatch Act. This law says that employees whose principal employment duties are connected with a federal loan or grant cannot be candidates for partisan office. The Act also prohibits the use of an official position to benefit or to oppose a candidate in a partisan campaign. Further, covered employees must refrain from soliciting covered co-workers for political donations. Supervisors have been found to be inherently coercive in the context of seeking political contributions from subordinates. The law also forbids covered employees from advising other employees to make political contributions.

In the case of the Marion Co. Sheriff's Department, there is plenty of reason for the public to be concerned about the political activities of the persons employed there. The department has a long history of being one of the most political and powerful offices in the State of Indiana, heightened by the fact that the Sheriff for many years has earned even more money than the President of the United States. Abuse of power and politics run amok have been hallmarks of the Sheriff's Department. Taxpayers were forced to pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay a judgment rendered against former Marion County Sheriff Jack Cottey, a Republican, in a U.S. federal district court a few years ago. According to the lawsuit, a whistleblower claimed he was fired by Cottey because he reported on the department's deliberate alteration of the county's crime statistics to reflect badly on former Sheriff Joe McAtee, who at the time was seeking to take the term-limited Cottey's place. Cottey favored former Lawrence Mayor Tom Schneider over McAtee. The altered statistics were used in campaign commercials for Schneider to portray McAtee as soft on crime. After Schneider defeated McAtee in a close primary race, McAtee endorsed current Sheriff Frank Anderson, a Democrat. McAtee and his son, Bart, in turn were rewarded with jobs by Sheriff Frank Anderson.

That's just one tale. A former Indianapolis Star reporter, now working out of state, shared with me another account of how a former Republican sheriff went after reporters who ran negative stories about his office. One reporter was targeted by sheriff's deputies for a DUI arrest, while other reporters discovered people rummaging through their garbage outside their homes. Yet another Star reporter recounts how a former sheriff succeeded in getting a reporter fired from the newspaper because of a negative story she had written about his department. Abuse of power for political gain or self-preservation is simply wrong. Isn't that what the Democrats told us during Watergate?

During the discussions over the merger of the Indianapolis Police Department and the Marion Co. Sheriff's department, Sheriff Anderson testified that politics had no place in public safety. Clearly, the events of the last few weeks show that politics is alive and well within the Sheriff's Deparment. The only saving is that IMPD has been removed from the jurisdiction of the sheriff and placed under the mayor, relegating Anderson, Forestal, et al to the status of glorified jail keepers. Hopefully, IMPD will be less political under the mayor's office than it was under the sheriff's department, but there are already rumblings there as well. Republican City-County Councilor Lincoln Plowman, who voted for the transfer of IMPD, received a promotion under the reorganization announced by Mayor Ballard this week. Bart McAtee, an Anderson appointee, was demoted. Are these decisions based on merit, or are they based on politics? I can't answer the question, but you can understand why people would ask the question given the recent history of law enforcement in Indianapolis.


Susie Q Public said...

"Are these decisions based on merit or are they based on politics?"

Duh, what do YOU think? How come you're not discussing all the IMPD involvement in defeating Bart Peterson because he didnt' kowtow to them. Ballard's got a very tough lesson ahead of him!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Gary. Why is it I have to come here to read what I should be able to read in the Star?

Anonymous said...

Yes, people rightly criticized Monroe Gray for holding a high office of do-nothing work while president of the Council. Now we have the majority leader, a Republican, as a command staff member of the IMPD. What next, will Ballard find a nice cushy appointment for those cops who failed to get elected in the last election? Bruce Henry and the at large guy who gave Joann Sanders a race for her seat are probably licking their chops about now in anticipation!

Wilson46201 said...

Anonymous said: Why is it I have to come here to read what I should be able to read in the Star?

Because the Star doesnt cover every little tempest-in-a-teapot media stunt that desperate campaigns try to hype up. The Adam Longworth complaint has completely collapsed.

There's the story: the little anti-Carson clique tried and utterly failed to discredit the Democratic candidate for Congress, André Carson!

Anonymous said...

May Forestal suffer the same fate as Diamond Don Gilmore.

Anonymous said...

Susie Q.

IMPD involvement in defeating Bart?

What involvement is that? If you are talking about the officers , while off duty, putting signs in their yards and showing up at rallies, well that is the way America works.

Thee FOP endorsing Ballard? Yes, they did, and no they are not the IMPD.

Bart Peterson kowtowing to us? No chance of that. What are we to do to "force" him to do anything else? Go on strike? Against the law. Job action? Also against the law.

Sorry, he was not endorsed by us because he was bad for the city.

Anonymous said...

and your point is.....??/ nothing illegal was was certainly minor compared to what the IMPD did in uniform to defeat Mayor Peterson.......this seems to be more of just stirring the pot trying to make someone somewhere think something bad is happening. Gary, accept the fact that Andre Carson is going to be your new Congressman....he is already your city councilor...

Anonymous said...

Susie Q Public=the female version of Wilson Allen. Blind to everything they don't agree with. Why is that liberals like those two preach open mindedness and tolerance unless you disagree with them?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for keeping an eye on this stuff, Gary. Abdul used to be a good source for this kind of information, but nowadays he won't touch Andre Carson or the Ballard administration. Me thinks he's been reached.

Gary R. Welsh said...

"Why is it I have to come here to read what I should be able to read in the Star?"

Because the Star editors have an apparent policy of censuring any reporter's story which might impact Andre Carson's election negatively. Bring on the negative information you have about Jon Elrod, and they will be happy to report it fully. They've already made up their mind to endorse Carson, despite his obvious lack of qualifications for the job, and their reporting reflect's that editorial decision. We saw it repeatedly in the 2006 election when the newspaper and other local news media covered up Carson's illness, thereby rendering us without a representative for most of this term.

Anonymous said...

Advance Indiana: There is so much more to the story of corruption and politics in Law Enforcement. There are many, many stories and so many good people who were harmed by the self-serving actions of politicans. How can I get this information to you?
Honest police officers should come forward and tell the real stories of what has been happening in law enforcement for the past years under Bart Peterson, Frank Anderson and now, Greg Ballard. Nothing has changed! Only the names are different!

Anonymous said...

The Indianapolis Star supports Carson because in their mind it helps keep the minority African American community under control.
Does anyone seriously think that if the powers that be in this city, with their power, money and influence wanted Carson defeated they would see to it that it happened?
The 7th Congressional District is a gift provided to elite blacks here courtesy of the Indianapolis white power structure. It's a tool used to help keep peace.

Anonymous said...

Greg Ballard has had control for two days give the guy a break.

Anonymous said...

Where are those public records that Scott Newman locked away involving the Honeycutt investigation and Andre Carson's hire via Julia Carson.
Is Newman, who is Ballard's voice in the law enforcement arena, obstructing the public's right to this information?
Why would Ballard and Newman lend support to Andre Carson? Has a crooked deal been struck like so many crooked deals in the past?

We want that file Mr. Newman!!!

Gary R. Welsh said...

anon 5:30 said, "Where are those public records that Scott Newman locked away involving the Honeycutt investigation and Andre Carson's hire via Julia Carson."

I'll have an update on that very soon.

Anonymous said...

My memory may be fuzzy, but didn't Plowman and Lake, the new Northeast Major take the Captains test a year ago? And weren't they given the "wrong books" to study by accident?

And didn't they have some kind of lawsuit going to try and fix that problem?


Anonymous said...

Concerned citizen.

There has not been any lawsuits filed by Motsinger, Plowman, or Lake.

Wrong books by accident??? MMMM
What a coincidence.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Anonymous said:
"Does anyone seriously think that if the powers that be in this city, with their power, money and influence wanted Carson defeated they would see to it that it happened?"

No, I do not seriously think that. It's a fairly solidly Democratic district. It probably won't matter how much money Elrod has or who supported him, the bottom line is it's a fairly heavily Democratic district.

Anonymous said...

I wish someone would investigate to find out why $15,000 POLICE motorcycles were issued to Sheriff Civil Deputy Joe McAtee, and his son who was a deputy chief of two areas of IMPD (neither of those areas was the motorcycle division).

Did Joe McAtee wear an IMPD uniform on IMPD Motorcycle Drill Team events outside of Indy?

Those motorcycle assets were valued at $15,000 and to be used by police to enforce traffic laws and provide VIP escorts...not for political patronage to issue to a civil deputy who does not enforce traffic law and a deputy chief who does not command the motorcycle division.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

9:36, Then how did William Hudnut win that "heavily Democratic" district?
If memory serves me correctly, I think Hudnut was a Republican. And the man he beat was incumbent Democrat Andy Jacobs. Of course, Jacobs did win the seat back.
That was back in the day when today's 7th was the 10th.

Anonymous said...

7:23, Plowman and Lake. And your welcome.

Anonymous said...

The Republicans did such a great job keeping up the jail! Cottey's jail was put on court order to clean up. Frank Anderson cleaned it up.

It sure didn't take long for the Republicans to turn on arguably the most powerful Democrat in Marion County politics.

Frank Anderson is a tremendous public servant.

Anonymous said...

Hudnut won in 1972, during a very good Republican year, back when the district wasn't nearly as Democratic as it is now.

The reality of the 7th District today is that it's all of Marion County with the good Republican areas cut out. Imagine trying to win Marion County without the good parts of Perry Township, for example. Ballard didn't even come close to winning the 7th District during a very favorable Republican year.

Anonymous said...

Hey Susie...I mean..Jen Wagner..

Why did you purchase Why does the IN DEM Party need such a domain name?

Your exposed....turn about is fair play.

Anonymous said...

1:17 Please clarify the facts: Cottey had criminals locked up and was court ordered to find more space. Anderson solved the problem with a revolving door "Arrestee Processing Center" that lets criminals go free to commit more crime against us!

Please do not obfuscate the facts, 1:17. As a result, our city has been called "South Detroit" and compared to Detroit.

Now on this post we read of Franks cronyism...and it doesn't look good. It looks like something only in Detroit. Pleezzzze!!! -Why would a civil deputy be allocated a police motorcycle??? Please answer.

Why would a civil deputy wear a police uniform on out of town motorcycle drill team events? Is it legal for a civil (patronage) deputy to wear a police (merit) uniform of an agency he does not belong? Why would that civil deputy's son have a police motorcycle allocated to him if he is not in the motorcycle division?

-I call it cronyism...and it stinks! It is wrong.