A few weeks ago, Republican precinct committeeman and blogger Gary Welsh became the first noteworthy Republican to demand that Marion County GOP Prosecutor Carl Brizzi resign. I have long criticized the poor operation of Brizzi's office, and the way Brizzi has continued to look the other way when it came to political corruption and white collar crime in our community. The fact that Brizzi's office did NOTHING when confronted with the Penn mortgage scandal and it took the feds intervening to get any prosecution, speaks volumes about how poor Brizzi's office is when it comes to recognizing white collar crime as "real" crime with "real" victims.
I like Gary, believe the Durham scandal, and Brizzi's connection to it, has so tarnished the prosecutor's image that the party would certainly be better off if Brizzi resigned and another person was allowed time to establish a foothold in the office. Brizzi will be fortunate if he can escape legal troubles due to his questionable stock ownership and other matters. Indeed Brizzi's travails demonstrate a motive for why he looked the other way when it came to white collar matters - he was engaged in highly questionable matters himself that could conceivably some day be viewed as white collar crime. The feds take insider trading and tax fraud very, very seriously. While 99% of the insider trades evade the purview of the feds, there is little question that Brizzi is on their radar screen now. They know about his stock ownership and the fact he had, from somewhere, acquired money to make investments that he couldn't have otherwise purchased on his prosecutor's salary. Brizzi may well have some 'splaining to do to the SEC and IRS.
Nonetheless, I think there is someone else in the GOP upon whom the major blame should rest and who needs to resign for the good of the Marion County Republican Party - Chairman Tom John. Tom John and Carl Brizzi are very close. We Republicans need to be demanding what and when Tom John knew about Brizzi's decision regarding not to seek a third term. John could have interceded and demanded that Brizzi make a decision. More than likely though, John knew about the decision and sat on it, letting Brizzi effectively pick his successor, his chief of staff, Helen Marchal, by waiting until the final day to file for slating to make his announcement.
I don't know Ms. Marchal, but I know the last thing the Republican Party needs is a prosecutor candidate with close ties to Brizzi to run for the office. More importantly, the Republican rank-and-file should be furious with Brizzi and John. They made a mockery of the supposed democratic slating system by ensuring that only one candidate would be in a position to succeed Brizzi. As I told a Democratic elected official a few months ago with regard to the Prosecutor's Office, the GOP leadership would rather give away the office than to have a Republican nominated who might display independence in office. That is a mentality the Marion County GOP leadership has which dates back to the 1970s-1990s when Republicans dominated the county and leadership's only concern was intra-party competition. We Republicans have yet to transition away from that model to one that recognizes the competitive nature of the county.
If the Brizzi matter were Tom John's only failure that would be one thing. But the fact is Tom John's failures and lost opportunities as Marion County GOP Chairman could fill several pages. Let me though just summarize.
- John has the Marion County GOP well-positioned to lose the Mayor's Office in 2011, all at-large seats, and the council majority.
- John has the Marion County GOP on track to lose all county-wide races in 2010, including the important positions of sheriff, prosecutor and clerk.
- John lost all county-wide races in 2008 by historic 20% margins.
- John has stood by while the administration of Mayor Ballard commits one political misstep after another. (The Chairman of the GOP ought to be providing political guidance behind the scenes. It appears though Mayor Ballard is getting no political advice as to the political impact of decisions being made now on elections in 2011).
- John has done nothing while GOP Council members have been put in a position of voting for tax and fee increases (and other unpopular measures) that will doom many of their campaigns in 2011.
- John has done nothing while the Ballard administration (and now the Council) has been taken over by a law firm and insider interests who are using their positions for political profit at the expense of any hope of rebuilding the Republican Party in Marion County by pursuing governmental and ethics reform.
- John did nothing to take advantage of the success of 2007 to rebuild the Republican base so it can compete in the 21st Century.
- John has done nothing while the Ballard administration has repeatedly alienated the existing Republican base with proposal after proposal that breaks campaign promises and contradict basic GOP philosophy.
- John has appointed a resident from Hamilton County, David Brooks to a high level, supervisor position in the Marion County GOP organization.
- John has been involved in the strong-arming and firing of good Republican workers who dare exercise their right to support in slating candidates other than those preferred by party leadership.
- John failed to support candidate Greg Ballard's campaign in 2007 and told contributors not to give money to Ballard. Only supported one of the four at-large Republican candidates.
Yes, it is about time for some Republicans to consider resigning. The first on my list though is Tom John. We Republicans cannot afford more of his tenure.