Saturday, August 21, 2010

Did Joe Loftus, Counsel to the Mayor, Use His Position Within Administration to Secure 50 Year, No Bid Contract For His Client?

In the recent parking deal with ACS, did Joe Loftus, special counsel for the Mayor and partner at Barnes & Thornburg, use his position within the Ballard administration to steer a contract to a private client he represents?

Although Loftus told a reporter during the transition he would not take a position with the city, the Indianapolis Star later reported that Loftus made a combined $115,000 as lobbyist for the city and to act as the administration’s special counsel. In addition, Loftus also lobbies for ACS, the very company that recently was awarded a 50 year no-bid contract by the City.

This wouldn't be the first time Loftus leveraged his position within the Ballard administration to help a private client. Just last fall, Loftus, on behalf of his client AT&T, worked behind the scenes to cut the funding for Rick Maultra's salary as head of the City's telecom agency. Maultra had been a persistent advocate that telecoms, like AT&T, pay rights of way fees like they do in other cities. Maultra, as local enforcer of telecom laws, had also targeted AT&T for legal violations.

Loftus' conflict of interest within the administration - being paid by taxpayers to work for the City's interests while at the same time lobbying the City for private clients - is one of the worst conflicts of interest imaginable. I guess Mayor Ballard wasn't serious about running a more ethical administration than past mayors.


Downtown Indy said...

Sometimes, things aren't as they seem. But other times they are.

To even allow the appearance of a conflict in unconscionable. But then, this IS Mayor Ballard's forte - to be the clumsy, fumbling frontman for the clever, conniving backroom dealers.

And I don't for one millisecnod believe this case is one of merely appearing to be a conflict but there's not.

Diana Vice said...

Dare I ask if the Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission would find the conflict of interest worthy of an investigation, or is that a sham of process as well?

Marycatherine Barton said...

Hreat question from Diana. I am in complete accord with DI's comment.

Paul K. Ogden said...

DV, good question. Frankly, you owe a duty to represent your client zealously. But what if you represent both parties in a transaction.

Typically the requirement is disclosure. It's been suggested to me that Mayor Ballard had no idea that members of his administration, i.e. Loftus, represented ACS. That could be a disclosure problem. Certaily it reflects a competency problem with regard to the Mayor if he's that out of touch that he doesn't know someone within the administration is also a lobbyist for someone seeking a 50 year, no bid contract from the administration.

My experience is that the Commission prefers things that are more clear cut. There is a lot of misconduct out there.