Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is Marchal Really A Republican?

Fellow blogger and Democrat Jon Easter has an interesting item today about voting records that indicate that Helen Marchal, the proposed GOP candidate for prosecutor in Marion County, voted in the Democratic primary in 2002. Marchal, who has served in a number of positions under Carl Brizzi since his election that year, including most recently as his chief of staff, is married to a Democrat, Jeff Marchal, who is employed as a commissioner for the Marion County Superior Court, criminal division. Helen resigned her job recently because of concerns her candidacy would violate the federal Little Hatch Act. Most partisans I know will occasionally admit to supporting a person of the opposite party in a general election (including me), but most are very reluctant to identify with the opposite party by crossing over and voting in the other party's primary.

Helen's recent resignation is also raising questions about another senior employee of the Marion County Prosecutor's office, who has been running for the Republican nomination for Hamilton Co. Prosecutor for the past year. Bryan Walters (alias?) has sent an e-mail to a number of persons today questioning whether David Wyser can be a candidate for Hamilton Co. Prosecutor and be employed by the Marion Co. Prosecutor. Walters writes:

David Wyser, as Chief Trial Deputy of the Marion County Prosecutors Office, an executive position, is running for Hamilton County Prosecutor in 2010. He will be on the primary ballot in May and then on the November general election ballot. It appears from news articles that he has been campaigning for this office since late 2007 or early 2008. Campaigning, however, would depend on when he announced to the public or when he filed the appropriate paperwork to run with the election office. David Wyser has been in his current position since he became a candidate for partisan political office. In is present role, he supervises all of the deputy prosecutors in the office, including those whose salaries are federally funded. Federal funds pay for prosecutors to investigate, charge, and prosecute criminal cases. Again he has held this position while actively running for public office. This is a direct violation of the Hatch Act.

I am not sure if he has used his official authority to influence and/or interfere with the nomination or election process. It is public record how much money in federal grants the Marion County Prosecutors Office has received over the course of the last 2 or 3 years and how many prosecutors salaries are paid by those grants. This is a clear violation on the part of Mr. Wyser. He also may have participated in other federally funded programs over the course of his position. It has also been reported that he has been fundraising for political office while in his current position again for the last 2 or 3 years.

The proper remedy would be for David Wyser to lose his current position as Chief Trial Deputy and not be placed on the ballot to run for the partisan political office. Carl Brizzi, the current Marion County Prosecutor, needs to take action and ask for Mr. Wyser's resignation otherwise he is putting the county at risk a risk of millions in penalties. Also, he should not be considered as a candidate in the Hamilton County political office. Helen Marshaul (sic), whose is now running for Marion County Prosecutor, made the choice to step down before her position was in violation of the Hatch Act, which was the right thing to do. The Marion County Prosecutors Office should not be allowed to let blatant violations occur for 2 or 3 years with executive staff supervising federally funded employees and then be able to run for office. Not to mention it's a violation with extreme ramifications including the loss of federal funding and millions in penalties.

We are asking for your help in rectifying this situation in order to benefit our county and those surrounding it.

In the past, I've noted that several members of the Indianapolis City-County Council have been candidates for and been elected to their respective council seats despite working for government agencies and nonprofits that receive federal funds. Democrats made a big deal in the 2007 Terre Haute mayoral election when the Republican who won that race in an upset was challenged because of his employment by a nonprofit organization that was partially funded by federal funds. The Indiana Supreme Court ultimately sided with the Republican winner because the Democratic incumbent had failed to timely raise the issue during the campaign and the mayor had resigned his job before taking office.

UPDATE: The Star's Jon Murray has blogged about Marchal's response to the criticism over her party loyalty. Here's what he she told him:

Not that Marchal is a fierce partisan: She's married to a Democrat, Jeff Marchal, who serves as an appointed commissioner in Marion Superior Court and has sought his party's nomination for judge previously.

On to the two pieces of evidence to hit my desk this week. First, Marchal is listed alongside her husband on a mailing list showing members of the Southside Democratic Club.

Verdict: True -- sorta. Marchal told me that when her husband joined the organization a couple years back, he mailed a dues check drawn on their joint checking account, and she has chuckled each time she sees mail addressed to both of them.

Now the second piece of evidence: Marchal once voted in the Democratic primary in Marion County, in 2002. That was the year Brizzi was first elected, though both he and his Democratic opponent, James Osborn, were not challenged in their parties' primaries. Her husband wasn't on the ballot. In fact, there weren't many contested races of note for Democrats.

"Absolutely, I did vote Democrat in 2002," Marchal said. "I'm proud of the fact that I can look at candidates and issues independent of their affiliation." She said the reason she crossed the political line that year was personal, though she declined to say which Democratic race drew her interest.

"I have stuffed donkeys all over my home," Marchal joked. "I had no idea that would be controversial."

For the record, Marchal's voter registration record reveals that 2002 was her only recorded partisan transgression, going back nearly 20 years.


varangianguard said...

Not "Democrats", AI, former Mayor Kevin Burke, singular.

Of course, his attorney in the complaint was Rep. Ed DeLaney of Indianapolis.

I said then that politicians would be kicking Kevin Burke (metaphorically speaking) forever after for ever bringing the Little Hatch Act up just because he frittered his reelection away.

Here might be one example.

Unknown said...

Maybe she was a sinner who repented.

I don't believe that a partisan voting in the other's party's primary is as unusual as you believe. There are sometimes legitimate reasons for doing it.

If people, especially those of her own party, would give her a chance, they might find that the Republicans have a really fine candidate in Ms. Marchal. She is bright, energetic, loyal, capable, and ethical.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Well, Nancy, I would ask Helen where she was when all of the sexual improprieties were taking place among senior staffers in the office. I would also ask why the office under her direction buried every major public corruption case that arrived in the office the last 8 years. She inspires no confidence in me that she has any intention other than to conduct the office like business as usual. We need someone who promises to clean up the office and aggressively pursue public corruption cases. Helen is not that candidate.

Sir Hailstone said...

Just to play Devil's Advocate here (believe me I'm not sold on Ms. Marchal) was Mr. Marchal on the Dem ballot as a judge candidate in 2002? Not offering an excuse just a plausible explanation.

Perhaps Jon Easter can enlighten us on that question.

Paul K. Ogden said...


Given how poorly Brizzi's Office is run, I think his Chief should take some blame.

Cato said...

The better question is whether Brizzi, Ballard and the rest of the Marion County GOP are really Republicans.

They're properly view as a parallel path to power, but the interests are identical.

Unknown said...

Advance Indiana, thanks for your reply, and I believe your questions are legitimate. I am only aware of one sexual scandal though there may be others. In the one I know of, at least two of the women chose not to pursue further action and made that decision on their own.

In the instances you mention, the sexual harassment and failure to pursue corruption, I think it is unfair to suggest that the office was under "her direction."

If Helen had a fault while working for Brizzi, it was her loyalty to him which he did not deserve. Just give her a chance to find her bearings in this campaign, and I don't believe she will be such a disappointment to you.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Mike, Jeff has run for slating as a Democratic judge in the past, but he did not get slated and did not run against the slate in the primary.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Nancy, I personally communicated my concerns about the lack of action on public corruption cases directly to Helen. The complete inaction by that office told me everything I needed to know.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Nancy, I think my count is up to four, and that doesn't count the Terry Record coverup that ended in the death of an innocent man. I realize she wasn't chief of staff when all of these things happened, but she continued serving in an office under an official who quite obviously had no moral compass.

M Theory said...

Marchal runs the prosecutor's office now, correct?

If so then she has a great opportunity right now to start cleaning up corruption and show us before the election of what substance she is made.

Is she part of the Marion County combine or is she on the side of The People?

Her words and the words of the party mean nothing to me.

Only ACTION matters and counts.

I'm not buying another pig in the poke from Tom John's Marion county GOP.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Have you not been following this, Melyssa? Helen resigned her job to run for the office.

Unknown said...

Advance Indiana, I can't disagree about Carl having no moral compass.

Thanks for providing a reasonable forum for me to put my position forward.

Flipper said...

I thought one who works for the City of Indianapolis is required to live within Marion County. Why do lawyers not follow the same rules as we have to?

Unknown said...

As a former prosecutor at MCPO, please allow me to explain. I worked at MCPO for several years under both Newman and Brizzi. The rank and file deputy prosecutors at MCPO despise Brizzi. He is self-aggrandizing, egocentric, slimy, and a shameless self-promoter. Everyone knows that and is repulsed by him.

Helen did not run MCPO. She regularly disagreed with Brizzi and David Wyser and was always the champion for doing what was right. There is a reason that even though she worked on the "6th floor" (where all of the executive offices at MCPO are) she is still very respected, admired, and genuinely liked by virtually all at MCPO - deputy prosecutors and support staff alike.

One comment correctly pointed out that she was inexplicably loyal to Brizzi who certainly was undeserving of her steadfastness. And I think she has some explaining to do about that. Why work for such a schmuck? Well, I think the true reason is because she cares so much about the Marion County Prosecutor's Office that she recognized that she needed to stay. The office needed her. Believe me when I tell you that Helen was exposed to much of the ugliness and underhanded dealings Brizzi engaged in while she was Chief of Staff. But she certainly did not condone it or control it. She was the voice of reason and always championed doing the right thing. She routinely disagreed and gave advice counter to the path Brizzi and David Wyser were choosing. But she was not in charge adn ultimately Brizzi & Wyser would oftern choose to ignore her. Helen had a sincere disdain for Carl's political pandering.

I assure you that under Helen Marchal the MCPO would be an office all of us (including a life-long prosecutor like myself) could be proud of. Helen is ethical, extremely bright, and has the heart of a prosecutor. She is fair, hard-working, and conscientious. She genuinely wants to work to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Indianapolis. That is why she is running for prosecutor - and that's why she stayed on as Chief of Staff for Brizzi even though he is such a distasteful and classless individual. She will walk a fine line in explaining this during the election cycle.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Thanks for sharing, Rena. I realize this situation is not entirely of Helen's own making. It is extremely frustrating, though, for party activists to be held in the lurch for months only to see Brizzi drop out and to see Helen anointed as his successor without an opportunity to consider any other candidates. This position is considered the second most powerful elected office in the State of Indiana right behind the Governor because state government oversight falls under the office. I think the people deserve more than just one choice.

Unknown said...

Rena, thanks. You, as a former insder, know more and said it all far better than I could.

M Theory said...

Gary? I missed that part somehow.

Unknown said...

Rena, thanks. You, as a former insder, know more and said it all far better than I could.

varangianguard said...

Frankly, does voting in one primary or another matter to "real" voters? I think not.

Sure, it matters to those who like to keep their tidy little playgrounds pristine, but most voters aren't that exclusionary.

If I were considering voting for Ms. Marchal, this would barely even register on my radar.

Is it illegal to switch back and forth during primaries? No.

Would anyone in their right mind consider it unethical? Well...certainly people who have a direct interest in partitioning the playground might. Anyone else? I think not.

This is an illusory issue. Maybe we ought to stick to worrying about "real" issues when deciding who to vote for as Prosecutor?

Gary R. Welsh said...

It does raise the concern that she was a Democrat at heart until she was elevated to a management position in Brizzi's office and then switched party affiliation as a matter of convenience. You're right, varangianguard, in that it might be a trivial issue but when you have to gain the trust of rank and file Republicans before you take that next step, it can become a troubling obstacle. As I recall, Democrats bashed Ballard for having missed voting in a number of elections prior to running for mayor but at least he had always voted in the Republican primary when he did cast a vote.

Paul K. Ogden said...


Yes, you can swtich back and forth between D and R. But you can be challenged and forced to sign an affidavit that in the Fall you will vote for a majority of the party's candidates...the party you're voting for in the primary.

Don't ask me how they make sure who you vote for in the fall.

karma09 said...

rena, I'd like to see these sentiments come from Helen herself, which would indeed publicly show an independence and gutsiness we all could be proud of.

Otherwise, she's not entitled to such a presumption since it never showed up once the 6th floor brain-trust was done with their meetings. One could even argue she was ineffectual in leadership if she was unable to get Brizzi and Wyser to do the right thing, even though "right" was on her side.

karma09 said...

AI, can you play devil's advocate and make a credible argument that the same concerns that caused Marchal to resign while running for Marion County Prosecutor, somehow don't apply to Wyser, running for Hamilton County Prosecutor?

It's not as if we are talking about individuals from different counties, Wyser and Marchal are/were Brizzi's immediate lieutenants. Does this not occur to them all to be a dramatic inconsistency for people charged with enforcing the law, or at least not breaking it? How about at least being consistent?

Paul K. Ogden said...


Could it be that some prosecutor positions are funded with federal dollars and others are not? For example, the Title IVD prosecutors I have heard are funded by federal money.

Unknown said...

Well, considering Carl may just get charged with insider trading on Cellstar/CLST Holdings, it begs the question of whether David Wyser also timely traded in the stock just prior to Indianapolis-based Brightpoint's acquisition.

On a separate note Wooster's Daily Record is reporting Fair Finance is reopened at an "undisclosed location."

Marycatherine Barton said...

Power is what now matters in most units of government in the USA now, not the rule of law. With Paul Craig Roberts, I lament that. As far as Helen Marchal, she is not going to be elected Marion County Prosecutor in Nov., and why should the law-abiding citizens of Marion County care!

Gary R. Welsh said...

The Indianapolis Times blog also claims that she is a member of the Southside Democratic Club.

Had Enough Indy? said...

I sincerely hope that the credibility of her ideas for governing from the Prosecutor's Office vs. those of whoever might be her opponents' ideas -- can still be weighed.

It looks to me like Ed Treacy is doing all he can to throw in a red herring to discredit anything she might say to her fellow Republicans.

Her husband was running for office -- so she voted in the 'other' primary ? And, so what, she paid the token fee to become a member of a D club to support his campaign? Hell, her husband may even have signed her up without her being aware of it, so as to be more supportive of the club.

I don't know her or her past performance at work or her ideas. Those would seem to me to be justifiable objects of debate - not the red herrings cast about by Treacy.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Pat, Her husband was never a candidate on the ballot in the primary. He ran for slating as a judge, lost and dropped out.

karma09 said...

Paul O, maybe I'm just missing the connection, but the quoted Hatch-act based complaint in AI's original post describes Wyser as in charge of all the trial deputies, which would include even the IV-D child support prosecutors, ultimately. I also believe there are other prosecutors, such as gun-unit prosecutors, and possibly some of the community prosecutors, that would fit the bill of being funded through federal grants.

Seems like Marchal and Wyser would be in the same boat, as long as they are running for partisan offices.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I would agree Karma. I was just trying to think of a reason for the distinction.

Carlos F. Lam said...

The defense attorneys I've talked to that practice in Marion County (I'm a deputy prosecutor in another county) all respect Helen and believe her to be fair & principled. That says a lot coming from the defense bar.

On a more jovial level, if we voted for the hottest candidate, Helen would win in a landslide.