Monday, March 23, 2015

Angie's List Hires Ice Miller To Lobby Council Members For $18.5 Million Subsidy

The City of Indianapolis' online lobbying database reveals that Angie's List recently retained several lobbyists at Ice Miller to lobby the Indianapolis City-County Council on its behalf for approval of a controversial $18.5 million subsidy to the company on top of the more than $14 million in public incentives the company has received from the state and city. Democratic lobbyists Lacy Johnson and Carl Drummer have teamed with two of the law firm's Republican lobbyists, John Hammond and former Marion Co. GOP Chairman Tom John, to lobby council members prior to next Monday's full council meeting at which a vote is expected to occur on final passage. The hiring of Ice Miller suggests the company is struggling to assemble the necessary votes required for its passage. Advance Indiana is told Lacy Johnson, in particular, has been targeting skeptical black council members.

Curiously, WCTY has failed to upload the archived video of last Monday's Metropolitan & Economic Development Committee meeting at which the controversial subsidy was approved for the second time with only one dissenting vote after the full council sent it back to committee earlier this month. Advance Indiana is told representatives of Angie's List were asked to comment on pending litigation filed by consumers and shareholders against the company, but they refused to discuss them. Most recently, a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of the company's members in the state of Pennsylvania alleging the company engaged in a scheme to defraud its paid members by making them believe they were receiving an unfiltered, consumer-driven rating service for service providers. Instead, the lawsuit alleges that Angie's List manipulates service providers' reviews, ratings and search result rankings based on advertising fees paid by the services providers. The company has never turned a profit during any calendar year of its two decades of existence despite its growing revenues driven by the advertising fees it collects from service providers, which is more than triple what it collects in membership fees from consumers.

UPDATE: The Indianapolis Star has a story up now on the latest class action lawsuit against the company, which begins:
With a critical vote on a tax-incentive package looming, Indianapolis-based Angie’s List has been hit with another class-action lawsuit, the company’s third in four years.
And unlike past allegations, this complaint cuts to the heart of the company’s chief selling point — the trustworthiness of its consumer reviews.
Filed March 11 in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, the lawsuit alleges that Angie’s, an online consumer review service, manipulates company ratings that are sold to its subscribers as impartial user reviews.
It does so, the lawsuit claims, by giving paid advertisers preferential treatment, such as boosting their visibility on the site and suppressing negative reviews.
“Angie’s List does not help members find the ‘best’ service provider, but rather the one who paid the most money to Angie’s List,” the complaint says. “This certainly is not ‘always placing the interests of the consumer first,’ ” as the company says in its public filings.
Debra DeCourcy, an Angie’s spokeswoman, said it is company policy not to comment on pending litigation. The company’s lawyers have not yet filed a response in court . . .


Anonymous said...

Now that I see that four of the most corrupt and connected politico attorneys and/or poltico corporatists in town are fighting to keep the pork flowing to Bill Osterle and Angie Hicks (in light of the news that Angie's List may do economic hard to its subscribers in addition to other possible crimes such as securities fraud), I have to believe that we are fully in the economic fall-out of David Brooks' ability to place chess pieces on the Council (like former Councilor Rivera for only one example) to pass deals made behind closed doors. In retrospect, I have to surmise the Angie's List scheme was covertly concocted with someone like, maybe, Bill Osterle with the help of someone like, perhaps, David Brooks. Brooks then might have used his Marion County GOP Chairman TJ and his many poltiical pawns elected with the help of DB's and TJ's ghost PCs to push the original depraped Angie's List through... and now Indy's worst Councilors wait to financially rape the Marion County taxpayers- their constituents!- again.

Am I merely crazy or crazy onto something that should have long ago been investigated by the Feds?

In light of the many true news stories Advance Indiana and Paul Ogden publish about the Ponzi scheme company known as Angie's List, ANY COUNCILOR who votes for this $18.5 Million giveaway of their constituency's hard-earned tax dollars is testifying publicaly that he or she supports political corruption.

Anonymous said...

If the GOP Councilors do not vote as directed by the party Boss, they will be kicked out of the Republican caucus.

Anonymous said...

A life lived outside of the Republican caucus with integrity and a soul not for sale is a life worth living. There is freedom in not being owned. Take it from one who knows.

Anonymous said...

Where does Lacy Johnson work and who is he close to on the council and in democrat field for mayor?

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:18- you are so right! We grass roots "R's" who self-selected out after seeing up close and personal the corruption endemic to the Marion County (and the State) GOP agree. Think of the irony-- even the Democrats on the Council itching to pass the financial $18.5 Million rape of their constituents are owned by the establishment Republicans! Hello ZA!!!

The elephant in the room is that DB is the actual Chair of Center, not the heaving drinking, crass smokestack from the south side of town. DB pulls the strings and the owned- many of them attorneys who have real fear in their guts- must dance to the chawin', beer guzzlin' crook now hailing from Hamilton County and Washington DC.

The godfather syndrome is an ego trip with these lowlifes and they detest anyone who will not get down doggy style and kiss their cheap rings too.

Those of us who recently walked away have self-respect- something most of our Democrat and Republican Councilors have no real claim on.

Anonymous said...

Lacy Johnson gets his pay check from Ice Miller. He is former Navy Intelligence and fixes things for $$ and has deep contacts within the African American community.

Anonymous said...

This company appears to be a fraud to its customers. It has never returned a profit.

Putting any of OUR TAX MONEY into it is a failure of the stewardship we place in our elected officials. Do not give tax money to this failed and, by all accounts, corrupt, business!