Friday, January 30, 2015

Marion County Board of Voter Registration Records Raise Residency Concerns About Republican Mayoral Candidate

An analysis of public records regarding Indianapolis Republican mayoral candidate and political newcomer Chuck Brewer raises serious questions about the candidate's honesty in completing his application to register to vote and documentation he filed with the Marion County Board of Elections last year when he originally planned to seek a seat on the Indianapolis City-County Council in the newly-drawn District 23 on the city's south side in Perry Township.

Brewer initially filed paperwork to open up a campaign committee to run for the District 23 seat on December 30 listing an address in Perry Township just two weeks before he changed his mind and decided to run for mayor instead after Marion Co. Republicans struggled to find a viable candidate to slate at its party convention scheduled to take place tomorrow. Party leaders immediately anointed Brewer as its candidate after conducting little or no due diligence. He is running unopposed at the slating session, although other candidates have filed to run in the May primary, including Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams, Jocelyn-Tandy Adande, Terry Michael and Darrell Morris.

According to his own public statements, Brewer said he moved to Indianapolis in 2011 from Chicago after leaving a corporate job with Sears Holdings Corp. in suburban Hoffman Estates where had worked his way up to the position of a division vice-president. Brewer, a Lt. Colonel in the Marines and Iraq combat veteran with two tours of duty under his belt, said he chose to move to Indianapolis to launch a new Potbelly Sandwich store on Monument Circle, the first of several he planned to open in the area. Brewer never opened any other Potbelly franchise stores, but he did open his own concept restaurant around the corner from his Potbelly restaurant, Soupremacy, which is located on East Market Street.

According to records Advance Indiana obtained from the Board of Voter Registrations ("BVR"), Brewer filed his first voter registration application listing a luxury condominium in the Athletic Club, which is located at 350 N. Meridian Street, as his residence. In the space provided on the application for "Previous Voter Registration Address," Brewer left the space blank, suggesting he had not previously registered to vote anywhere else in Marion County or his previous residence in Chicago. The box next to "New Registration" is marked, indicating it was the first time he registered to vote in Marion County. The BVR redacted the date Brewer signed and filed his new voter registration application despite a state law making that information a public record. The state's Public Access Counselor in an opinion issued a little more than two months ago in response to a similar public records request, which Advance Indiana made to the BVR and which was denied, admonished the agency that it was misapplying the state's law and a resolution adopted by the Marion Co. Board of Elections regarding public records requests for information regarding individual voters.

According to property tax records on file with the Marion Co. Assessor's Office, Brewer recorded the purchase of Unit #607 in the Athletic Club on August 19, 2011, which is consistent with Brewer's public statements about the time frame during which he moved to Indianapolis. That is also consistent with the exclusive interview Advance Indiana had with Brewer's former general manager of his Potbelly restaurant, Sarah Hoyt, who said her former boss lived in a condominium downtown on Meridian Street only blocks from the restaurant. The assessor's records also show that Brewer claimed a homestead exemption on Unit #607 in each of the tax years from 2012 to 2014, indicating that was his principal residence. A mortgage assignment of a debt of $380,000 on Unit #607 was recorded in favor of Wells Fargo on December 29, 2014.

Nonetheless, Brewer filed paperwork with the Marion Co. Election Board on June 30, 2014 to form an exploratory committee to run for the Indianapolis City-County Council in District 23. He listed his address as 623 Slate Drive, Apartment #B, Indianapolis, which is located at an apartment complex in Perry Township. Similarly, when he filed an updated report on December 31, 2014 to formally open his campaign committee to run in District 23, he listed that same address. A second voter registration form Brewer completed with the BVR, however, stated he was changing his address to the 623 Slate Drive, Apt. #B address from another apartment in Perry Township, which he claimed as his previous registered voting address, which was listed as 1452 Dakota Ridge Drive with the apartment number missing. Brewer's application has a check mark listed in the box marked "Address Change." Once again, the BVR redacted the date Brewer submitted the change of address information in violation of the state's access to public records law. The BVR provided no change of address form Brewer submitted changing his voting address from the 350 N. Meridian address to the 1452 Dakota Ridge Drive address, although that information was within the scope of my public records request.

The BVR denied Advance Indiana's request for Brewer's voting history in Marion County, which would indicate which primary, general and municipal elections he has participated since becoming a registered voter in Indianapolis, yet another violation of the state's public records law. Advance Indiana made a written appeal to the Marion Co. Board of Elections today to furnish the information on Brewer's voting registration and voting history illegally being withheld by the BVR. The BVR claims it cannot disclose any information contained in the state's Statewide Voter Registration System ("SVRS"), even though that information is provided in bulk to the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian Parties, as well as the state's four legislative leaders, to use for campaign purposes. The state's Election Division requires requests for individual voter information to be made at the county election authority where the voter is registered to vote. Its counsel agrees that individual voting history records are public records, as well as the voter registration information.

Why the BVR continues to defy the state's public records law after being admonished by the state's Public Access Counselor to comply with it is beyond me. The BVR is following the advice of the City's corporation counsel's office and not the advice of the Marion Co. Election's Board's counsel, who is well-versed on the state's election law. The author of the current state law, State Rep. Kathy Richardson, who also serves as the Hamilton County election's chief, concurs with the Public Access Counselor's opinion. Incredibly, the corporation counsel's office claims other counties, unlike Marion County, don't abide by state election laws.

Brewer has not yet filed a statement of organization or declaration of candidacy for his mayoral bid so it remains to be seen what registered voting address he lists on those forms. Interestingly, Advance Indiana's research uncovered an ordinance violation complaint filed against Brewer on June 27, 2014 for conducting outdoor sales without a license. A notice of the violation was served on Brewer at 1452 Dakota Ridge Drive, Apt. #A, the same apartment complex where Brewer indicated on his change of voter registration card he had previously been registered to vote before changing it to the 623 Slate Drive, Apt. # B address. A court entry dated November 20, 2014 indicates an attempt to serve a summons on Brewer at the Dakota Ridge Drive apartment was returned as undeliverable. On December 29, 2014, a prosecutor from the city's corporation counsel's office, Michael Clifford, moved to dismiss the ordinance violation against Brewer, and an order was signed that same day.

It is not disputed that Brewer satisfies the two-year residency requirement to run for Indianapolis mayor; however, there are serious questions about the accuracy of the information Brewer completed on voter registration forms filed with the BVR when he listed two separate addresses at apartment complexes in Perry Township instead of his Athletic Club condominium, which he claims as his principal residence for purposes of paying his property taxes. It gives the appearance Brewer only used a Perry Township voter residence for convenience in order to run for council in District 23 when the evidence suggests he lives far away from that district in his downtown condominium. The voter registration forms completed by Brewer contain a disclaimer stating "All the the above information and all other statements on this form are true," and "I understand that if I sign this statement knowing that it is not true I am committing perjury and can be fined up to $10,000, jailed for up to three years or both." Suffice it to say, Mr. Brewer has some explaining to do.

Shortly after Brewer dropped his bid for the District 23 council seat, Scott Kreider, an attorney with the Indianapolis law firm of Alerding Castor Hewitt, announced his intentions to seek the District 23 seat. He is running unopposed at the Marion Co. GOP slating convention tomorrow. Kreider's law firm offices are located in the Keystone Group's Majestic Building at 47 S. Pennsylvania Street, the same building where the Marion Co. GOP headquarters is located. The building is also the headquarters for Keystone Construction and Indy Eleven, businesses owned by the shadowy Turkish immigrant, Ersal Ozdemir, who is seeking approval from the state legislature calling for the public funding of a nearly $100 million soccer stadium for his minor league soccer team after just one season of play. Ozdemir's Keystone Group also owns the 47 S. Pennsylvania Street office building. He has served as the finance chairman for the Greater Indianapolis Republican Finance Committee, although he lives in a gated Carmel community up in Hamilton County. He took over that position after Ponzi schemer Tim Durham stepped down as the party's finance chairman.


Anonymous said...

Everybody has some explaining to do. Nobody's records are perfectly in alignment to defend a criminal prosecution.

They can arrest anyone for anything, and some record will always be slightly incorrect.

Give them less chances to arrest you. Don't run for any office, and certainly don't vote.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Explain that to Charlie White, who was charged and convicted of six felony counts and forced to give up his statewide elected office based on similar facts.

Anonymous said...

This issue could dog him for some time.

Anonymous said...

Just what Indianapolis needs. More dishonorable mayors. And doesn't the Marion County GOP look like a group of lawbreakers? Oh, wait.....

Anonymous said...

This bothers me if he was seeking to deceive voters even before he decided which office to run for. Also, how engaged is he in civic affairs if he wasn't a registered voter in Chicago? I'm shocked a 23-year military veteran would not have bothered to register to vote until he was 40 years old.

Anonymous said...

I began to criticize this obvious phony and Kyle Walker's obvious clear miss at what a winner looks like... but Kyle Walker hasn't anywhere near the brains to concoct a successful political candidate and this proves it.

Anonymous said...

This guy looks like a typical
"empty suit."

What will his reward be from the
R party after he gets thrashed
in November?

And in the interim, who will run
his business into the ground while he's out campaigning to the gullible voters?

Gary R. Welsh said...

They are withholding the voter registration form he completed for the Dakota Ridge residence. They are withholding his voting history, which tells us what elections he voted, if any, and where he voted in those elections. They are withholding the dates he registered to vote at the respective "residences," three that we know he's claimed in the little more than three years that he's lived here. All of the political operatives of both political parties have access to this information at the click of their fingers without having to submit a public records request, but they won't furnish these clearly public records to me. These people need to be fired from their jobs as a consequence of ignoring public records requests or at least be subject to stiff fines. Marion County and the City of Indianapolis are the worst abusers in the state of Indiana, and our local news media could give a damn less about it. They lie about the existence of documents. They lie about what the law requires them to produce. And when all else fails, they just destroy public documents they don't want the public to see. The Democrats won't provide the information from their party database because they would rather hang on to the information and use it in the heat of the campaign if it becomes necessary. The bottom line is that there are virtually no people with integrity left in our political system.

Anonymous said...

Gary, your 10:01 comment is especially poignant (and as accurate) as is everything you thoughtfully pen.

Local and national GOP continue their attempts to force candidates on w the people but the success rate of those tactics may be receding.

If Brewer- who more and more seems less and less honorable- is the "R" candidate for Indy mayor I will not be voting at all. Similarly (and it is early but...) if Jeb "Baby Huey" Bush is forced upon us as the "R" POTUS candidate, I will sit out the entire national election too.

I am DONE with going to the polls and having little choice but to vote for dishonorable, faux candidates who have been crammed down my gullet and who are nothing more than pawns on a political chess board to be used for power, control, and the money that ensues.

I am damned tired of being told whom I may vote for. They system as it is under Democrat and Republican power-brokering resembles more the Communist East than the Founder's New Land.

Jon E. Easter said...

Didn't SEA 621 change the residency requirement to one year? I don't think that changes anything you argue, but I do think they did make that change.

Gary R. Welsh said...

The residency requirement is one year now for council members and two years for mayor. It used to be two years for council members and five years for mayor before they changed it in that power grab bill Ballard had the legislature pass.

Anonymous said...

Brewer is a pawn & a contingency plan. The mafia doesn't want him to win, they just want to put a pretty face out there in case Hogsett screws up royally.

There's only one real party out there folks and their team color is not red or blue - it's green - as in money!

Interesting this guy's voting records are being hidden. Why the hell did he just now decide to take an interest in politics? And it's not like he's starting small- he wants to run for mayor of one of the country's largest cities. Something just doesn't add up here and I'm grateful you are out there, Mr. Welsh, to ask the tough questions the media refuse to ask.

I want to assume Brewer is no idiot so here's my question: what did the mafia promise Brewer in exchange for his agreement to get squished by Hogsett in his run for mayor? More free SBA money to expand his Potbelly franchise? Lax health department inspections of his business? Free outdoor seating when Ballard revamps Monument Circle? Or maybe a shiny new downtown condo next to Ersal's new $100M soccer stadium?

Anonymous said...

It really bothers me when I come and read stuff like this at your website that never gets reported on by the media. If the media is doing their job, we should know about these issues. It makes you wonder what else they are withholding from us.