The December 2nd Fort Wayne Journal Gazette dug deeper into Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita’s continued expansion of his gubernatorial campaign chest at taxpayer expense. They look very seriously at all the fatty government funded contracts he’s doled out to consultants who are putting his face on TV and his name on the radio and in print around the state in the name of anti-scam public service announcements, but actually building his name recognition, in return for campaign contributions. Check it out:
Critics are rightly questioning the $2 million-plus in public funds that the Indiana secretary of state has spent on TV and radio advertising. Also deserving scrutiny is the correlation between Todd Rokita’s campaign contributors and contract awards from his office.
Consider Haverstick Consulting, recipient of a $264,000 contract from the secretary of state’s office in November 2008. Since 2007, the Indianapolis company has given $7,700 in campaign contributions to Rokita.
Crichlow Products of Indianapolis has contributed more than $2,000 to Rokita’s campaign in regular installments since 2003. It was awarded a $24,680 contract from his office in November 2006.
Then there’s Russell Martin & Associates, which won a $13,175 contract in January 2006. The company contributed $400 to the secretary of state’s campaign coffers in September 2005; another $500 in August 2008.
Hirons & Co. of Bloomington and Fort Wayne’s Asher Agency also are contractors who have contributed to the Republican officeholder’s campaign chest. Hirons has won two lucrative jobs promoting the secretary of state’s investor education program, while Asher won a $550,000 contract for a statewide media campaign in 2008, following $1,250 in contributions from Tim Borne, a company principal.
Todd loves to bash ACORN for running rackets, but his position as an expert in scams has led him to become an expert scammer at the center of a pay-to-play scheme even as the Indiana General Assembly discusses such restrictions in the ethics reform bills they are floating.
House Speaker Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, includes a restriction on state contracting and contributions in the package of ethics reforms he has proposed – belatedly – for the upcoming session. The bill he’s supporting would prohibit state government contractors or potential bidders from making political contributions to state candidates, with violations subject to civil and criminal penalties.
“By enacting these guidelines, we will make sure that any expenditure of state funds are based upon the quality of a contractor’s work product, rather than the size of their political contributions,” Bauer said in a news release.
The week before, The Anderson Herald-Bulletin covered Rokita’s blatant campaigning on public resources by taking the question to the legislator’s that created the fund he is milking:
Rokita says most of the money — more than $1.5 million — is being spent on ads designed to spread awareness of investor fraud. But some believe the Republican, whose term ends next year, is trying to build name recognition for a 2012 run for governor and question whether the money would be better spent on employee training, investigations and other tasks.
None of the money comes from the secretary of state’s annual $2.4 million annual general fund budget and isn’t eligible to be transferred to the state’s cash-strapped general fund.
Even so, state Rep. Jeb Bardon says the secretary of state’s fund wasn’t intended to be used for Rokita to build name recognition. Bardon told The Indianapolis Star that lawmakers have had “serious discussions” about whether to use the fund to pay for financial counseling for those facing foreclosure.
Rokita is a talented confiscator. When he is asked if he is building name recognition with these ads for a gubernatorial run:
Rokita calls that idea “absurd.”
“Who in the world thinks a commercial running in 2009 is going to have a name ID component in 2012?” he said. “But I do think people like to know and deserve to know who their officeholders are.”
We do too Todd. That’s why ALO will continue to point out to all who listen that at the time when folks are most hurting you took public funds and used them to plaster your face all over rather than hold public education forums for victims of fraud.
You fattened your campaign coffers with contributions from consultants in exchange for big contracts paid with public resources instead of concentrating on enforcement.
You pranced around the state offering feel-goody interviews and speaking to tea-baggers who are angry about taxes, but you don’t talk to them about the $2 million plus of tax dollars you spent on self aggrandizement, instead of playing any kind of an oversight role in the Tim Durham/Obsidian Enterprise/Carl Brizzi Ponzi scheme under your very nose or Steve Buyer’s fraudulent Front Foundation.
We think people ought to know who their officeholders really are too, Todd.