Sunday, May 10, 2009

Indianapolis City County Councilors Vaughn & McQuillen & their Barnes & Thornburg Connections

I have to give the law firm Barnes & Thornburg credit. When it comes to protecting their clients, the firm certainly does not rely on quality legal representation. The firm rather makes sure it has all the political connections in place.

First, you start with Indianapolis City-County Council Public Safety Committee. Public Safety has a parade of B&T clients appear before it. B&T represents Corrections Corporation of America (which runs Jail #2), Superior Court, the Coroner, the Prosecutor's Office, the Department of Corrections, and others.

Although Councilor Ryan Vaughn likes to suggest it was just a happy coincidence that he became Chairman of Public Safety and received a job at Barnes & Thornburg at about the same time, common sense dictates otherwise. B&T believes in the saying "It's better to know the judge than to know the law." Same goes with politics.

As a side note, Councilor Vaughn has suggested that he would resign from B&T if he became State Senator. It's unclear why he suddenly believes he would have a conflict being a State Senator and working at B&T, while he doesn't have a conflict sitting as Chair of the Public Safety Committee and working at B&T. Obviously the former, with the parade of B&T clients appearing before him on the Public Safety Committee, is a much, much bigger conflict.

Besides Public Safety, another critical committee is Municipal Corporations headed by Councilor Mike McQuillen. McQuillen will chair the committee deciding the CIB bailout issues. The CIB of course is headed by Bob Grand, managing partner of Barnes & Thornburg. One of B&T's big clients is the Simons brothers who own the Pacers. The Pacers very much want the bailout and the $15 million gift the CIB has promised the team. Chairman McQuillen's handling of the CIB issue is very important to Grand and his law firm B&T.

It is unclear the connections Councilor McQuillen has with Barnes & Thornburg, but it is extremely odd that suddenly B&T is now his law firm. In January of this year, Barnes & Thornburg, prepared McQuillen's campaign report. If you scroll down to the last page, it is a cover letter from a Barnes & Thornburg paralegal indicating that the firm had prepared McQuillen's report. I bet Barnes & Thornburg would have wished the Clerk's Office had not included that letter with the report.

One wonders why in the world a candidate who only raised $3,000 during a reporting period would hire Barnes & Thornburg to prepare the finance report. Anyone with a high school degree or less would have been perfectly competent to fill out that report, yet Councilor McQuillen employed the services of one of the most expensive law firms in town, a law firm that is calling the shots on the 25th Floor and is very influential with the council. But, hey, like Vaughn's appointment, I'm sure that is just a coincidence.

McQuillen's report does not show any payments to Barnes & Thornburg for preparing the report. One hopes that the crack legal staff at B&T remembers to include those payments (or an in-kind contribution) on his next report.

Update: According to a very credible source, Councilor McQuillen has been attending a lot of Pacers and Colts games in the CIB suite, as guest of the CIB. If indeed that is the case, Councilor McQuillen and Councilor Vaughn both have a conflict that require recusal on CIB issues.

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