Elected Officials and County Government and Banking & Finance and Carl Brizzi and Government & Economic Development and Tim Durham

Brizzi silent on controversy as he opts against 3rd term

January 14, 2010

The written statement Carl Brizzi released Thursday saying he will not seek a third term as Marion County prosecutor makes no reference to the controversy surrounding his business and personal ties with embattled Indianapolis financier Tim Durham.

Instead, Brizzi, 41, focused on what he considers his biggest achievements since winning election in 2002. Those include increasing conviction rates and expanding services. He said his office closed 2009 with an overall jury trial conviction rate of 79 percent.

“This decision [not to run] was not an easy one,” Brizzi, a Republican, said in the statement. “But after serving as prosecutor for the last seven years, I have wrestled with the question of whether I can make a commitment to serve an additional five years.”

The last three months have been Brizzi’s rockiest. In November, he acknowledged agreeing to serve on the board of Fair Finance Co., a Durham-owned firm headquartered in Akron, Ohio. He said he began his term in September but quit a month later after Durham informed him IBJ would be publishing an unflattering story about the company’s business practices.

Fair now is at the center of at least two federal investigations. In a November court filing, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Indianapolis accused Durham of running the business as a Ponzi scheme.

Brizzi told IBJ in November that he agreed to serve on the board because he was interested in learning more about finance from Durham, whom he described as “a buddy.” He said that during his stint, he did not take any official action or attend a board meeting.

Durham also has been Brizzi's biggest campaign contributor. Campaign finance records show Durham and his companies have donated more than $200,000 to Brizzi campaigns.

Brizzi also invested in at least two public companies tied to Durham—Dallas-based CLST Holdings Inc. and Los Angeles-based Red Rock Pictures Holdings Inc.

It’s not clear what led Brizzi to either Red Rock or CLST. In a letter to supporters he posted on his Facebook page Dec. 7, Brizzi said he began buying CLST in 2005 “after discussing the investment, as well as other companies, with friends and financial advisers as part of my overall investment planning.”

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