Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Barnes & Thornburg Alters Government Record to Remove Council President Ryan Vaughn Lobbying Activities for ACS; Will Gov. Daniels Investigate?


Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana has been reporting for awhile that Council President and Barnes & Thornburg Attorney Ryan Vaughn was a registered lobbyist for ACS. I looked it up and found out that Welsh was exactly correct and reported about it on my blog last Thursday, pointing out the specific record of the Department of Administration showing Vaughn lobbying the administration on behalf of ACS, including which agencies.

Vaughn now has told Nuvo's Austin Considine that the records of the Department of Administration showing him lobbying on behalf of ACS were wrong and he'd have them changed. According to the Nuvo article:
Vaughn told NUVO this was an error, and that his office would correct it as soon as possible. By the time this article was published, ACS had been removed from his client list.
Really? So Vaughn's law firm can pick up the phone and have the official government lobbying records of the executive branch altered so his conflict of interest is erased? Yep, that's exactly what happened.

Now that the Governor finally seems attuned to ethics issues in his administration, maybe it would be a good time to launch an investigation into the Department of Administration's altering government lobbying records for Barnes & Thornburg. Who at B&T made the call about changing the records? How did Vaughn "inaccurately" get listed as a lobbyist for ACS in the first place? What evidence was provided that the lobbying records were wrong? Who at the DOA agreed to alter the records? How high up did the decision go? It appears that someone at the DOA needs to be fired.

UPDATE: This is apparently the second time that DOA officials changed Ryan Vaughn's lobbying record when faced with negative publicity. Back in May of 2010, during the time when the FBI was asking for Venture-Brizzi records, Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana reported that Ryan Vaughn's Venture DOA lobbying record had been removed. The DOA later apparently claimed to Legislative Insight's Ed Feigenbaum that the the record disappeared while doing an upgrade...which is interesting since the glitch seemed to only affect Vaughn's Venture lobbying record. Later the record was restored.

Governor Daniels should be demanding an investigation of the DOA's manipulation of lobbying records to benefit Vaughn. If the Governor's Office doesn't take action, the FBI should also be called in to investigate.

SECOND UPDATE: As noted in a comment below, it was pointed out to me that lobbyists can self-register on the DOA website to lobby the state executive agencies on behalf for particular clients, as well as later change those registrations, including apparently delete them.. Okay, the first part I get. I can imagine a lobbyist wanting to talk to the head of a department and registering before the visit. The department head can also, before the meeting, get on-line and check to ensure the person is registered to lobby for that client. Full disclosure. My problem is allowing a lobbyist, without any oversight from the DOA, to change the lobbying registration after the fact, erasing the full disclosure that took place.


I know said...

The Governor can do nothing about this. The AG, the IG, the Gaming Commission, the DWD an DOA are UNTOUCHABLE!

Paul, they are off limits. You know very well from your past experiences a call to common sense only happens when the mess directly makes the Governor look bad. This is on the City stain now.

The Governor doesn't have enough hours in the day nor time left in office to clean his house up. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been swept away and his comics of him being the "Blade" only make him swell up even more.

He knows darn well what is going on and hides behind his aides. As an adult he ought to have some sense of right and wrong by now but as we know money snuffs all that out!

Blog Admin said...

Was someone smart enough to save the page onto their hard drive? It completely slipped my mind.

Cato said...

Ugh. Come one, Paul. Mitch is the ringleader of this group, not their investigator.

Why are you Republicans so reluctant to admit that this goes straight to the top?

Heck, it might go all the way to the RNC. There might be a D.C. law firm that is the mother ship for this activity.

I know said...

You are close but it isn't just a R firm. It is a cross section of R and D and wealthy folks all the way to Washington that control the system and they are darn proud of it!

When they get their trap in trouble they hire RICO attorney's, get high dollar PR firms to swing their story and pay their friends in HIGH places to keep the machine running and the filthy messes covered up.

If the common folks had half the money they spend to cover up their tracks we would not have huge national debts!

How much of the campaign funds are used to cover the dirt? How much of the TIF funds are used to line their pockets?

Downtown Indy said...

While such records may 'disappear' from online view, they surely must remain on file in the state's file cabinets.

Further, would there not be SIGNED documents available for public scrutiny?

Paul K. Ogden said...

I've been told that lobbyists can sign in an change their own records on the DOA website. Of course, that wouldn't explain why the DOA decided to take the fall for the changing of the Venture record. Nor would it explain how Vaughn was accidentally listed as an ACS lobbyist, which then had to be changed.

It is one thing to enter lobbing information into the computer when you originally register. It is quite another thing if the DOA has a system whereby lobbyists can go on line and change information they already have entered.

I know said...




indiana gaming commission
Ernest E. Yelton
Executive Director
TELEPHONE (317) 233-0046 FAX (317) 233-0047
November 15,2005
Susan Gard
Department of Administration
IOCS Room W479 Indianapolis, IN 46204
RE: Orange County Operating Agent Contract EDS#A414-6-015

Dear Ms. Gard:
Please find enclosed three original copies of the Orange County Operating Agent Contract entered into by and between the Indiana Gaming Commission and Blue Sky Casinos, LLC. This agreement was reached in accordance with Indiana
Code 4-33-6.5. The contract grants the operating agent the authority to construct, operate, and maintain a riverboat casino in Orange County in conformance with the terms of the agreement and the statutes and regulations governing Indiana casino operations. The Commission will not incur any expense under this agreement.

The contract is unique under Indiana statute and is not necessarily amenable to the generally accepted state contract guidelines. The agreement was approved by the parties and signed by our Governor Mitch Daniels in a ceremony on November 9, 2005.

In spite of the unique nature of the agreement, the Commission requests that you please proceed with the standard approval process for professional services contracts.

Enclosed with the agreement are an executive document summary and the clearance checks from the Indiana Department of Revenue and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

If you have any questions or require any additional information, please feel
free to contact the Commission's General Counsel, Phil Sicuso, at 233-0046. Thank

Sean Shepard said...

This sort of comes down to a "who watches the watchmen" sort of scenario. If there is a violation of the law related to alteration of government records, what is the penalty for such and who enforces? And then, who is the victim who would have standing to demand justice?

A big part of our problem is that unlike things like speeding, not wearing your seat belt, financial fraud, murder ... you can't just pick up and call the police to go after the criminal when it's something like this.

911: "911. What is your emergency?"

Citizen: "I'd like to report insider dealing, alteration of government records and transfer of public taxpayer money to private organizations."

911: "Where was the crime committed?"

Citizen: "200 East Washington St."

911: "We're sending help now."


Gary R. Welsh said...

Paul, I've learned too many things about the ethics of the Daniels administration to believe his protestations over what was going on at the IURC. That is just the tip of the iceberg. Like I've said before, the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department in D.C., which I believe is looking into some of these matters, could send a whole slew of political insiders to prison if they've got the balls to do it. Indiana and Indianapolis is every bit as corrupt as I found things in Illinois; it's just that outside of the U.S. Attorney of the Northern District keeping track of Lake County corruption, there are no prosecutors, federal or state, who are willing to break up the organized crime syndicate that runs this state. They operate with impunity. The e-mail conversatons taking place between IURC and Duke Energy Execs occurs every day both in state government, Indianapolis, Carmel and so on. We now have another political hack in the U.S. Attorney's office in Indianapolis, who I fully expect will continue to quash any investigations that touch these powers as has been taking place for decades.

Sean Shepard said...

I think too often we attribute characteristics to whole organizations or their leadership that might not be fair.

For example. A CEO of a company might be totally unaware that down under some VP is a Director or Manager of sales who is unethically offering kickbacks to people. Just like we may not blame all of the tens of thousands of employees of places like Worldcom or Enron for the sins of their management, it's not always fair to attribute to management the sins of the individuals.

Government is too big and has its tendrils into too many things. It is, by nature, difficult to police and especially when there is no counterbalancing force with equal power to hold it as accountable as it might hold private citizens.

Gary R. Welsh said...

It's pervasive, Sean. There's a free-for-all in both the Daniels and Ballard administrations to cash in on political insider status as much as possible. Privatization deals make it all the more ripe for even more shenanigans. In the Daniels administration, whistle blowers long ago figured out it was a complete waste of time to file complaints with his Inspector General. Daniels personally knows how his political supporters are making big time bucks off his administration and is reaping the benefits in unprecedented campaign contributions. Ditto what is happening with the Ballard administration.

Sean Shepard said...

From my perspective, Gary/AI ... It is pervasive in all of government.

Paul K. Ogden said...

"It's pervasive, Sean. There's a free-for-all in both the Daniels and Ballard administrations to cash in on political insider status as much as possible. Privatization deals make it all the more ripe for even more shenanigans. In the Daniels administration, whistle blowers long ago figured out it was a complete waste of time to file complaints with his Inspector General."

This is dead on accurate. Inspector General David Thomas pursued a client of mine for firing because he drove his car from Brownsburg to Beech Grove where he filled up his state car at a gas station where he had a 2% financial interest in profits from gas sales. My client's share of the profits was $6.18, or 1/2 a cent for every mile he drove from Brownsburg to Beech Grove to fill up. The notion he was making these trips to profit from gasoline sales was ridiculous. The real truth was that he wasn't allowed to store chemicals for his state job at his Brownsburg home so he had to store them at his office at the gas station in Beech Grove.) Thomas didn't care that he had an explanation and any profit was de minimis at best. He wanted him fired.

My guess it was because the employee started complaining about discrimination at IDEM and IDEM was looking for a way to get rid of him. The IDEM chief got wind the fact that my client had an "ownership interest" in the gas station and tried to spin it into a big ethics matter. Thomas obliged, filing charges against the employee and asking for his termination, after IDEM had already terminated him.

I have found the Inspector General's Office to be EXTREMELY political when it comes to ethics enforcement.