Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Democrats Release Statement On Vaughn's Conflict Of Interest

The Marion County Democrats issued a statement laying out their case as to why City-County Council President Ryan Vaughn should recuse himself of any participation in the transfer of the water utility because his law firm is being paid to represent the interests of Veolia. His fellow Republican councilors should all be holding their heads in shame for continuing to allow him to serve as their leader and allowing his law firm to dictate public policy to the mayor and this Republican-led council to the detriment of the public. It's one of the many reasons I will be doing everything I can to make sure this Republican council goes down in flames in next year's election. The Mayor and the Republicans on this council have broken every single campaign promise they made, leaving me totally ashamed as a life-long Republican that I had ever held any belief that they would do a better job running our city government than the Democrats. Here is the Democrats' press release, which also cites the city ordinance this council adopted:

Today, Democratic Party Chairman Ed Treacy outlined what he called a "clear conflict" of interest for Councillor Ryan Vaughn on the transfer of the water and sewer utilities.

"Councillor Vaughn has a readily apparent conflict and, for the good of Indianapolis' residents' trust in government, he must recuse himself for any and all votes on the transfer of the water utility," Treacy said.

Vaughn works as an attorney and lobbyist at a law firm that counts among their clients Veolia Water. The firm does litigation work for the French company currently operating the water utility. And, Treacy has learned, the firm is doing public affairs work related to the water and sewer transfer deal. Councillor Vaughn works in the public affairs division.

The Revised Code of the Consolidated City and County of Indianapolis-Marion County outlines an "actual conflict of interest:"

Sec. 151-1122. Conflicts of interest, voting.

(a) Voting. This section establishes standards for determining when a councillor is disqualified from acting or may be permitted to abstain from acting in conflict of interest situations.

(b) Actual conflicts of interest.

(1) Defined. A councillor has an actual conflict of interest whenever the outcome of a vote on a matter before the council would either:

a. Confer a direct material pecuniary benefit with a value in excess of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) which would be received (i) by the councillor, the councillor's spouse or councillor's dependent children or (ii) by any business in which the councillor, the councillor's spouse or councillor's dependent children have an interest that is required to be disclosed under section 151-1123, which benefit would be materially different from the benefits conferred generally on the public or the councillor's constituents, or

b. Affect a private personal interest by either conferring any preference or causing any detriment to the councillor, the councillor's business, or councillor's family which would be different from that which would apply to the public or the councillor's constituents generally.

A councillor, who is also an employee of the city or county or other agency whose budget is subject to approval by the city-county council, shall not be deemed to have an actual conflict of interest either (i) with respect to votes on budgets or revenue proposals, unless the proposal pertains primarily to such employee or the employee's supervisor, or (ii) with respect to votes on proposals setting the compensation of councillors.

(2) Disclosure of actual conflicts. As soon as it becomes apparent that a councillor has an actual conflict of interest with respect to a matter before the council, the councillor shall immediately disclose the conflict and thereafter not participate in the debate.

(3) Disqualification from voting. A councillor with an actual conflict of interest shall be disqualified from voting on the matter.

(c) Appearance of a conflict of interest.

(1) Voluntary abstention. Whenever a personal relationship, business interest, or civic involvement of a councillor (other than those relationships inherent in the political process and in advocating constituent concerns) is such that it might appear to limit the councillor's objectivity on the merits of the councillor's vote, the councillor may request to abstain from voting on such matter. The abstention shall be allowed , unless the abstention prevents the council from deciding the matter, in which circumstances the council by a majority vote of those voting may require the councillor to vote. A vote under such circumstances shall not be grounds for ethical complaints against such councillor.

(2) Debate and disclosure. The appearance of a conflict of interest shall not disqualify a councillor from debate on the matter if the nature of the perceived conflict of interest is disclosed as soon as it becomes apparent to the councillor.

(G.O. 45, 2009, § 1) (Emphasis Added)


Marycatherine Barton said...

Two thumbs down to Ryan Vaughn!!

Gary R. Welsh said...

The language in the ethics ordinance, by the way, was carefully crafted by B&T lawyers to allow wiggle room in this very situation. That is why they also made sure the reporting under the new lobby law would not take place until next year after this and other big deals have gone through which would lay wide open the extent of Vaughn's conflicts.

M Theory said...

For the Republican councilors to hold their heads in shame, they would have to have a conscience. I do not believe that they do.

M Theory said...

Where were these same Democrats during the reign of Monroe "Sweet Pea" Gray and his juice? Where were their voices as Aaron Haith pulled the president's puppet strings?

Marycatherine Barton said...

But, HFFT, did Tom John or anyone officially representing the Republican Party, ever issue a statement alleging conflict of interest re Gray, or any other councillor. Didn't think so.

Gary R. Welsh said...

As a matter of fact, Marycatherine, both Ballard and John put out press releases calling out Gray for conflicts of interest. I believe Tom called on him to resign.