Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Why Scott Newman Wishes Carl Brizzi Would Go Away

The carefully crafted image Scott Newman has spent a lifetime shaping is threatened by the corrupt and self-centered man he helped propel to political power, Carl Brizzi, when he mentored and helped orchestrate Brizzi's unlikely 2003 victory in the Marion Co. prosecutor's race. An expose' in the current edition of the IBJ by Cory Schouten on real estate developer John Bales and his tangled business ties to Brizzi has begun the process of peeling back that facade and exposing Newman's ugly underbelly. Up to now, Newman has enjoyed very favorable media coverage from his tenure as county prosecutor and his subsequent valiant fight against Parkinson's Disease from which he suffers.

While the mainstream media has positively portrayed Newman over the years, I've been a frequent critic of his after once being a big supporter. Newman's tenure as prosecutor was marked by the awarding of gaming licenses for the state's riverboats and horse race tracks. Newman adeptly picked up on the backroom deals taking place up and down the state. Rather than sit on the sidelines and take in the rumors, he dug right in and tried to root out corruption. Newman set his sights on House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Sam Turpin (R-Brownsburg), who basically conducted an auction during his brief tenure as the powerful House committee chairman. He indicted Turpin, along with Willis Connor and James Wade, who owned a politically-connected engineering firm that performed work for prospective gaming licensees, on bribery charges. That case fell apart when an Indiana court dismissed the charges based on its interpretation of Indiana's bribery statute. Newman had to settle for a plea agreement with the three on lesser charges.

What really caught every one's attention in the gaming investigation was a subpoena Newman's office issued to Bob Grand as the managing partner of Barnes & Thornburg's Indianapolis office. Newman sought billing records for a client of the firm, which was part of the gaming company that was awarded the Lawrenceburg riverboat. Peter Rusthoven of Barnes & Thornburg represented the gaming client. I suspect his relationship was tied to the gaming company's William Cellini, the powerful Illinois political broker who engineered the awarding of the first riverboat license in Illinois for Argosy. Cellini is currently facing a public trial in Chicago this summer for public corruption charges, along with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

I distinctly recall attending a fundraiser for Newman at Rick's Boatyard Cafe a short time after Newman's office issued the subpoena to Grand's firm. I recall being taken aback when Bob Grand entered the fundraiser rather late and pulled Newman aside for a lengthy conversation. The investigation of the firm's client and the Lawrenceburg riverboat license by Newman's office faded and no subsequent charges were brought. When Newman left the prosecutor's office after eight years a short time later, he emerged as a partner at Barnes & Thornburg. Later, Newman and several other local business leaders, including some Barnes & Thornburg partners and the chairman of the Indiana Republican Party, founded a new start-up company that specialized in DNA testing. Not surprisingly, the company got a jump start when it quickly won contracts with the Indiana State Police and Marion County's forensic lab.

Based on these series of events, I was not at all excited when Mayor Greg Ballard named Newman as his first public safety director. I believed that he had used his position as prosecutor to parlay a lucrative legal career for himself in a less than above board manner. Ironically, Newman is now calling on his successor to resign from office for doing the very same thing. Newman has good reason to want Brizzi to resign. His own ties to Brizzi crony John Bales are raising some eyebrows. Interestingly, it is Newman who is acting as Bales' attorney defending him against findings of an IBJ investigative report by Cory Schouten. It is Newman who Brizzi pointed out initiated what some are calling a sweetheart deal with Bales on his way out of office eight years ago to procure office space for the prosecutor's office. That deal helped launch Bales' meteoric rise in the real estate world. It also appears that Newman invested in a failed company with Brizzi, Bales and others to invest in troubled real estate assets in Florida.

Newman is currently acting as chairman of Mark Massa's GOP prosecutor campaign. While Massa has sought to distance himself from Brizzi and called on him to resign, he may want to consider his relationship with Newman. He carries the same baggage as Brizzi carries, notwithstanding the fact that he no longer works in the public sector.


interestedparty said...

Wow. You have brought up new info I didn't know before. But things are making sense. I begin to see how some people get ahead, and it's not based on their ethics or admirable skill set.

I know said...

Call Paul Ogden and ask him what Brizzi's office has overlooked and looked the other way on in the gaming world in Indiana that is going on today. You will be surprised at what you will find has repeated itself AGAIN from the history your story line tells.

Paul will be very surprised to see the parallels.

Great blog!!!!

Marycatherine Barton said...

Maybe Carl will end up joining Steve Goldsmith in NYC, in Mayor Bloomberg's administration. He could be an assistant deputy mayor, eh, and fit in fine there.