Monday, March 16, 2015

Soccer Parents Complain About Nonprofit Youth Soccer League Being Exploited To Lobby For Passage Of Publicly-Financed Indy Eleven Soccer Stadium

A former state senator and Indiana State GOP Chairman, Murray Clark, Jr., is one of several high-paid lobbyists the shadowy Turkish immigrant, Ersal Ozdemir, has put on his payroll to convince Indiana state lawmakers that the public should finance a new $83 million plus soccer stadium for his Indy Eleven minor league professional soccer team. Soccer parents are now complaining to Advance Indiana that Clark has exploited his position as president of a nonprofit, statewide youth soccer league, Indiana Soccer Association, to use the nonprofit's resources and contact lists to overtly lobby parents and youth soccer participants to contact state lawmakers to lobby for the passage of HB 1273.

The most recent income tax return filed by the youth soccer league that Advance Indiana was able to locate on Guidestar stated that the 501(c)(3) organization engaged in no lobbying activities. Yet the nonprofit's website prominently promotes a State House rally planned for March 19, and the organization has been flooding its members with e-mail solicitations urging them to send supporters to the State House rally to lobby state lawmakers. E-mails urge "fans of the beautiful game of soccer" to come together "to share our passion for the Stadium for Indiana proposal now being considered by the Indiana General Assembly." Free t-shirts promoting the new stadium are being offered to anyone who shows up for the rally. A free catered lunch is being provided by Levy Restaurants for a "meet-and greet session with Indy Eleven's full roster, including autograph and photograph opportunities."

Parents complain to Advance Indiana that Clark has hijacked the statewide nonprofit organization for the benefit of his well-heeled client, who is no doubt paying him a large sum of money to lobby his former colleagues for passage of the publicly-funded stadium. Clark, a partner at Faegre Baker Daniels, is a member of the nonprofit's board of directors and serves as its president. The organization's executive director is Dave Guthrie. While some parents who have complained to Advance Indiana support the Indy Eleven, they question the use of the nonprofit to lobby on behalf of something that financially benefits Ozdemir's Indy Eleven. Several of the parents have attended Indy Eleven games at Carroll Stadium this past year and support the team but strongly object to a new stadium being built on the backs of the taxpayers when there are already perfectly viable facilities available to the team to use, including its current home. The Indiana Soccer Association reported annual revenues of over $1.8 million on its most recent tax return. The nonprofit's stated mission is to "develop youth by promoting the growth of, and an appreciation for the game of soccer in Indiana." Advance Indiana was unable to find a report on file with the Indiana Lobby Registration Commission indicating that the nonprofit is registered to lobby state lawmakers.

By this point, it has become abundantly clear that Ozdemir and his hired political hacks and lobbyists will stop at nothing to force Indianapolis taxpayers to build a monument to a shadowy businessman with questionable business ethics whose activities within this state are worthy of further investigating by appropriate law enforcement authorities, particularly in light of the damning allegations his former business partner has asserted against him in contentious litigation. As a result of Advance Indiana's earlier reporting, we now know that Ozdemir has put Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma on his payroll as one of his team's attorneys, as well as the chairman of the House Ethics Committee and Assistant Caucus Leader, State Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon). When will the paid State House media wake up and start doing its job in reporting all that's going on under the State House dome instead of just pumping out press releases handed to them by legislative advocates?

Here's the text of a recent e-mail sent out by the nonprofit:

Indiana Statehouse – South Atrium
200 W Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN
Thursday, March 19 – 10:00 a.m.

Fans of the beautiful game of soccer are invited to come together at the Indiana Statehouse to share our passion for the Stadium for Indiana proposal now being considered by the Indiana General Assembly.

Indy Eleven Professional Soccer will lead a chorus of supporters to cheer on our vision for the 18,500-seat multipurpose stadium proposed for downtown Indianapolis. Beginning at 10:00 a.m., hear from key speakers on this initiative, learn about the latest details, meet the entire Indy Eleven team, enjoy a catered lunch, get your Stadium for Indiana t-shirt, and tour the Statehouse to see your representatives in action and meet with your legislators to share your support for this bill.

Rally for Indiana Itinerary
10:00 am - Formal rally held in South Atrium, featuring speakers representing various members of the soccer community in the Hoosier State
11:00 am - Catered lunch provided by Levy Restaurants and meet-and-greet session with Indy Eleven's full roster, including autograph and photograph opportunities!
12:00 pm - The official Indiana Statehouse tour begins (see more details below, including how to RSVP



Anonymous said...

This is just shameful. It's pretty clear the mafia is working overtime to try and win support for this monstrosity. How much is Ozdemir paying to fund this team of thugs to lobby/promote/market a stadium for his one year old minor league soccer team?

Current in Carmel posted this to their website today. It's got to be a press release republished by the Current. What the hell does this have to do with Carmel?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Doesn't Ozdemir have a financial relationship with Current In Carmel? I believe he sits on the publisher's board of directors.

Anonymous said...

Geeezzzzz! What is next???

"We need a Cricket field???

This is all a Tax and Spend scam by the Democrats who "pay to play".

P. S. Explain the
"Regional Operations Center" or the Criminal Justice Center" before asking for more money from the taxpayer!

Anonymous said...

Now they're going Moed-Leathers and exploiting kids?

Anonymous said...

I believe I saw on twitter that someone is going to Zionsville to 'speak to students' about why we need this new stadium. Why can't he simply come out and say he simply wants more money in his bank account. How can our lawmakers be so inept at sniffing out bad deals? Can this shady creep really buy off so many people?

John Accetturo said...

Apparently this guy will do anything and everything he can to get tens of millions of taxpayer money. However without the help of the politicians it would never happen. They just love Ozdemir's campaign

Gary R. Welsh said...

It's not just the campaign contributions, John.

Anonymous said...

Washington Township School District owns Dynamo Park, the soccer field home of Dynamo FC Soccer Club. Four years ago when the school district was considering a $200 million construction plan, Murray Clark personally stood up at a school board meeting and lobbied the school board not to sell Dynamo Park. The school district does not even have a key to unlock the gate to the park.

Dynamo Park is the largest undeveloped property in Washington Township. Located just south of 91st and between Meridian St. and College Ave., it could be developed into residential or mixed use. The land is valued at over $20 million – enough to build an elementary or middle school.

The school district is again considering to re-launch its $200 million construction plan. Superintendent Nikki Woodson recently told neighborhood leaders that the sale of Dynamo was off the table.

Gary, based on your post, it now looks like the “shadowy” Turkish immigrant, Ersal Ozdemir has Murray Clark on his payroll. If so, it will not take long for Nikki Woodson and other educators to fall in line and support Ozemir’e Indy Eleven soccer stadium project.

Anonymous said...

I am a consistent Republican voter (although any more I wonder "why?") and what is called one of the "grass roots". Why is it I am not at all surprised to see in print that Murray Clark is another politico BOUGHT AND PAID FOR by Ersal Ozdemir? We see that Mr. Murray Clark is just another of the many male prostitutes Ersal brings to his bed.

As the names of politicians and attorneys are slowly revealed- names like Brian Bosma and now Murray Clark- to be Whores For Ersal Ozdemir, my disgust grows to no end.

This system of Democrat and Republican corruption is beyond reformation.

Pete Boggs said...

Indiana Republicans are degraded in status as statist RINOs; cave men who've abandoned Constitutional civility for the barbarism of statist greed.

Exploiting children to game the public treasury is low station operating. Where are the leaders in this state?

Anonymous said...

I've lost all hope for this country. The thought of this scumbag coming into this country from Turkey and being able to buy off our state legislature in a few short years leaves little hope for the people of this country. This man obviously has something to offer our elected officials that their constituents can't compete against.

Flogger said...

Here is what it says on the Organizations Web Site - Indiana Soccer is organized to provide nonprofit, public, educational soccer development and competition.

Nothing about Lobbying mentioned. I wonder who is paying for Shirts and the free lunch???

Check out the Board of Directors No one with a Hispanic Name and no African-Americans.

Minutes of the Board was last updated per the Web Site on July 19th, 2014. No mention made of anyone approving this Rally or the cost and who will be picking up the Tab. You would think a rally like this would require some official discussion and a post to the minutes.

I found this interesting on the 2013-14 Marketing & Communication
Department - Work closely with the Indianapolis professional soccer team Indy Eleven to create and implement initiatives that will benefit mutual interests.

Focus on 2015 - Continue enhancing the relationship with Indy Eleven to help position each other throughout the state.

Josh said...

Lol I bet the stadium somehow ends up looking like this;

Anonymous said...

Who in this make believe is playing the role of Oz Demure?

Anonymous said...

If a beautiful game needs a beautiful stadium.....How about this: Ballard and his motley crew of cohorts are always reminding us as to how Indianapolis is now a world-class city. If that is so,how about some world-class roads?