Thursday, March 05, 2015

Indianapolis Star Finally Calls Out House Speaker And Ethic Committee Chairman On Financial Ties To Indy Eleven's Ersal Ozdemir

State House reporters for the Indianapolis Star finally got around to discussing the financial ties House Speaker Brian Bosma and House Ethics Committee Chairman Greg Steuerwald have to Indy Eleven's owner Ersal Ozdemir after Advance Indiana first first broke the story. Speaker Bosma rushed out a conflict letter on February 13, 2015 after Advance Indiana reported that Rep. Steuerwald, an Avon attorney, had been representing Ozdemir and his construction and real estate development businesses in contentious litigation with a former business partner in Hendricks County for the past several years.

Despite that relationship, Steuerwald supported and voted for legislation last year providing for the public financing of a new soccer stadium for Ozdemir's Indy Eleven minor league professional soccer team in downtown Indianapolis. After Advance Indiana reported on Steuerwald's conflict, Bosma fired off a letter to the ethics committee disclosing legal work his law firm had performed for Indy Eleven and requesting to excuse himself from voting on this year's stadium financing legislation, HB 1273. Both Bosma and Steuerwald abstained from voting on HB 1273 when it came up for a vote in the House of Representatives last week on Second and Third Reading.

In today's Star story by Tony Cook and Mark Alesia titled, "Ethical dilemma? House Speaker Brian Bosma has ties to Indy Eleven," Common Cause's Julia Vaughn criticized the timing of Bosma's disclosure, although the story ignores the fact that it was prompted by Advance Indiana's exclusive report, while Bosma defended his actions regarding the matter.
“If it’s going to be meaningful to the process it has to be timely,” Vaughn said. “I think it would have been more transparent if he had put his cards on the table beforehand.”
Bosma defended himself by saying he has never voted on the issue or advocated for it privately.
“I feel like I handled it perfectly correctly with advice from legal counsel on how to do it,” Bosma said. “It was appropriate for me not to make any public statements about it and just to distance myself as much as possible so the normal legislative process could take place.” . . .
Bosma said he works on trademarks, contracts and sponsorship agreements for the team . . .
Bosma said he didn’t try to hide his relationship with the team. He said that last year he privately told Gov. Mike Pence and Senate President Pro Tempore David Long he couldn’t discuss the stadium issue because of his work for the team.
Bosma never publicly disclosed his work for the team until reporters pressed him for an opinion on the measure after Wednesday’s vote. Initially, he said he didn’t have an opinion on the bill. Only when a reporter told him that seemed unlikely did he explain he had done “some work with the team” and has “not been a public or private advocate” for the project.
He later voluntarily provided a copy of his Feb. 13 letter to the House ethics committee, although such letters are not public record.
The Star report also discusses Steuerwald's belated disclosure of his conflict of interest and the fact he voted for the Indy Eleven stadium legislation last year and only abstained this year after Advance Indiana's reporting. Both Bosma and Steuerwald insisted that even tougher ethics rules pushed by them this year didn't require they abstain from voting on the legislation; rather, they did so for appearances sake. "Steuerwald . . .  said the new ethics rules — which include language discouraging “the appearance of impropriety” — were the primary factor in his decision to abstain from voting this year, the Star reported. "That is a higher standard, so even though I had no pecuniary interest, no financial interest in the bill of any kind, I thought it would be best to avoid the appearance of impropriety," he said.

Keystone Construction's vice president, Paul Okeson, assured the Star the hiring of Bosma and Steuerwald by his boss' firm had nothing to do with their roles as state lawmakers.“This is Indianapolis,” Okeson said. "We’re sort of a big small city. It’s perfectly reasonable that at some point you might interact on a business transaction with someone who may be an official at the Statehouse," Okeson said. "But, it’s not like we do that exclusively. It’s not like we look to that for any undue gain. It’s part and parcel of doing business in Indianapolis." "Compared to our total (legal) spending, it’s not a significant amount with either of those two lawyers,” Okeson said." "Okeson said the lawmakers didn’t give advice on the proposed stadium and that the company uses 13 law firms." Okeson assured the Star that Ozdemir did not have any business relationship with other lawmakers. Vaughn told the Star she viewed the hiring of the two lawmakers as "a curious coincidence."


Anonymous said...

The FBI should investigate this mess. Ozdemir acts like the taxpayers are his personal piggy bank. The Speaker helps him get away with theft!

Anonymous said...

This is classic Nixonian where Okeson seems to be saying
[paraphrased], "We `are not crooks".

One thing these cronies sure appear to be is completely unethical and they are again caught with their hands in the cookie jar big time. It took Advance Indiana to again wake the dying Gannett-ruined Indianapolis Star to heave a few breaths about House Speaker Brian Bosma et al being totally bought and paid for by - what a surprise--- Ersal Ozdemir.

Brian Bosma and the rest of you on the take legislators- what else have you not disclosed as you should but have not done so because you've not yet been caught red-handed???

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that Bosma has worked the past few years to kill TIF (Tax Increment Financing) reform ..... guess what his law firm does .... works with Redevelopment Commissions, who get a lot of their monies from TIF.

As a side bar, Mr. Bosma has been hired by the Brainard controlled $4CDC (Carmel City Center Community Development Corp.) Now that's convenient.

Anonymous said...

Over the years, I've watched this arrogant, smug career politician at the various GOP meetings and dinners. As a psychologist by education and a counselor by training I can tell you that I am not an iota surprised that this man acted the way he did concerning your revelation of his tardy "ethics" disclosure.

Anonymous said...

If you want to know who the problem people in Indianapolis are, look right here:

These are the idiots with all those stupid ideas of destroying roads and access and shoving everyone into Agenda 21 overpopulation tenements.

When you want to know why Indianapolis has horrible roads and an overconcentration of things in downtown, these frail morons are the culprits.

To improve Indy, we should take every one of these road-hating density advocates outside and beat the living crap out of them.

If you see a bike on one of those congestion-causing stupid bike trails dropped onto a city street, stealing lanes from motorists, run the idiot off the road.

Bike trails belong in parks, not on streets. These wussies are afraid to live in normal areas, and they're afraid of driving, so they're destroying urban areas and trying to turn our streets into idiotic pedestrian malls.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:22: Many of us who ride bikes are fighting Agenda 21 & taxpayer abuses regardless of the excuse. WTF are you trying to say?

Anonymous said...

Thank you 9:33...Let's stick to the topic. Our House Speaker is a liar and it was exposed here. Media must not ignore this and neither should the DOJ and FBI. It's time to reel them all in.

Anonymous said...

AMEN, Anon 10:28, that this Speaker is a liar. The local and state GOP have to know this but must leave him be for the powerful position he established. Like the always deceitful, truth-hiding Hillary Clinton, Bosma's day of defeat is coming and he is another old crone who doesn't realize how soon.

A "JD" diploma appears to be used by the inherently dishonest and avaricious as a license to lie and to steal. Brian Bosma and his high-up politico attorney cohorts ["R" and "D"] are the pin-up stooges of all that is wrong with the legal business (can you say David Brooks or Samantha DeWester?).

Thank you Advance Indiana for another significant
story "intentionally missed" by local print and air wave media management who sure seem to prefer happy "human interest" news over actual investigate/hard-hitting reporting.