Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mayor Ballard's Campaign Report

This morning, Indianapolis Star reporter Brendan O'Shaughnessy, sheds some light on the Mayor's 2008 campaign contribution report which showed Ballard raising $835,037 last year. On some other blogs this is being touted as proof of that they believe in the Mayor's re-election.

Uh, no. Rather when people are contributing to a candidate, especially a Mayor, 3+ years before an election, it is because they are trying to get a piece of the action during the current administration. The Mayor is able to hand out millions of dollars in contracts, many of them no-bid, and companies and law firms are ponying up in the hopes that they might also get contracts. In other words, those companies believe, rightly or wrongly, they have to pay in order to play.

Another blogger makes a big deal of the fact that Barnes & Thornburg apparently gave only $12,000, while law firms Baker & Daniels and Bose McKinney & Evans gave twice that. This supposedly proves there is no "conspiracy" involving Barnes & Thornburg. Apparently pointing out that, contrary to previous administrations, two partners of Barnes & Thornburg regularly sit in on meetings with the Mayor's staff where key decisions are made and the fact that city contracts have been steered to B&T clients, are facts that if you report them are equivalent to talking about the moon landing being faked.

That aside, the whole point that several Republican critics of the Mayor have been making is that Barnes & Thornburg partners Bob Grand and Joe Loftus have embroilled the Mayor in a series of embarrassing conflicts of interest to benefit their firm's clients at the expense of any chance of Mayor Ballard getting re-elected. In short, they are selling the Mayor and the majority Republican Council out to benefit themselves and their law firm. Pray tell, knowing he won't be re-elected in 2011 and they already have massive influence in the administration, why would they contribute heavily to Ballard now? Barnes & Thornburg will invest heavily in the Democrat mayoral candidate in 2011. Mayor Ballard is going to find out how quickly his friends, Grand and Loftus, disappear when he is out of office in 2012 and can't do them or their firm's clients any favors.

There is a huge story in the report that is missed. Mayor Ballard's financial report shows that he spent $435,622 in 2008. That is an astonishing figure for a campaign to spend during an off-year. With Ballard's election in 2007, he was in a position to milk his position for thousands of fundraising dollars, without the necessity of holding expensive campaign events. To spend over a dollar for every two dollars raised, in an off-year no less, is possibly the sign of a campaign with serious management problems or people with their hands in the till. Possibly there is some explanation behind the numbers for expenditures, such as repayment of large amounts of debt from the 2007 election. Regardless, O'Shaughnessy should have reported on that in his story. That actually might have been a bigger story.

Follow-up: I briefly checked out Mayor Ballard's campaign finance report this morning. O'Shaughnessy's figures regarding contributions from law firms was based solely on contributions in the name of the particular firms. He did not include in his figures indivdiuals at those law firms who gave in their own name. That is, in fact, the way many lawyers at the big firms contribute to candidates.


Gary R. Welsh said...

I had the same reaction to the expenditures as you did, Paul. I'd be interested in studying those numbers. In last year's 7th District race, Jon Elrod's consultant pocketed $1 for every $2he raised. Their performance was the worst I've seen of any political consulting firm in Indiana in recent memory. The same firm does the House Republican's campaigns, which explains why the House Dems outperform the House Republicans in election after election despite demographics favoring the Republicans. Did you notice that someone from the Ballard campaign obviously tried to pre-empt the story O'Shaughnessy was already working on by making sure Abdul had something on it and got the spin on it before O'Shaughnessy's story went to print? He really has become a pathetic lapdog for the administration. I looked for the report online last night at IndyGov and it was not there. The last reports were for 2007.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Gary, I just figured that the on-line story was up. Apparently not.

Elrod's campaign was in campaign mode. So expenditures should be high, though I'm not sure they should be 2-1. But for Ballard's expenditures to be high in an off-year, that's plain weird.

Gary R. Welsh said...

My point, Paul, is that I suspect significant funds were spent on campaign consultanting fees. That's just a hunch, but I'll have to see the report to confirm.

Anonymous said...

The question is who in the Ballard administration feeds Abdul?

Free press, my foot. We might as well have state radio, a la, Chavez.

Paul K. Ogden said...


From looking at the report, I would agree that much of the money is going to consulting fees. But why would you be paying campaign consultants three years out from an election. I bet you the expenditures for Ballard in an off-year, three years before an election are higher than Daniels in a comparable off-year.

Gary R. Welsh said...

You and I know that, Paul, but Ballard doesn't know these things. These so-called friends are just taking him for a ride. As soon as the gravy train runs out, they'll toss Ballard in the ditch.

Paul K. Ogden said...

AI, the Mayor needs to be told that a political candidate spending $435K in an off-year, 3 years before an election, is not normal. I really don't think he has any idea.

So much for the idea that political inexperience is a good thing. I always cringe when I hear people brag that someone is not a politician. Well, Ballard's inexperience is what is getting him in trouble.

Anonymous said...

Paul, these people will backstab him. I know it is coming. I can feel it.

Anonymous said...

Ballard is turning out to be an "Idiot". On the campaign trail many perceived him as 'alof'. Did we mischaracterize him? He didn't say very much during his campaigning except, inarticulately, "we're going into the wrong direction" and "I want to bring control of the police department back to IPD," he said little else. Those two things were enough to please the crowd, along with what the activists and campaign staff were saying.

I'm really getting the impression that Ballard is not intelligent enough to 'understand' the complexity of running a city or to 'see' the political moves that have been and are being played on him by Barnes & Thornburg. This lacking is why he has no vision for the City of Indianapolis except the Colts, China Town and Asian people's prosperity and perception of Hoosiers in smalltown Indianapolis. LOL.

Someone needs to explain to Ballard that he is not supervising a 'small unit of people with limited roles', but a 'complex and dynamic organization' that requires MUCH MORE effort than his administration has be structured by Barnes & Thornburg to provide.

Structurally the city is broken and by design--Ballard is supposed to fail.

Anonymous said...

Come on Paul, did it ever occur to you that a certain radio pundit is also a "consultant"? Keep in mind his employment status hasn't changed yet he has a new ride?...tada!