Opinion and Carl Brizzi and Editorials

EDITORIAL: Time for Brizzi to heed calls to step down

April 10, 2010

Carl Brizzi’s once-promising political career is coming to an end. He won’t become a mayor or a congressman or win election to any of the posts that seemed within his grasp when he was an up-and-coming Republican.

We say that with confidence not because anyone has charged him with a crime. It’s all about perception. He smeared himself by running in the same circles as financier Tim Durham, the ostentatious businessman who became Brizzi’s largest campaign contributor and now is the target of a federal securities-fraud probe.

And, as IBJ has chronicled in recent weeks, he cut deals—in business and in the Prosecutor’s Office—that raise questions about whether he put the potential for personal profit ahead of his responsibilities as Marion County prosecutor.

Brizzi, 41, now is dismissing calls for his resignation from leaders of both parties as “ridiculous.” But we join the chorus calling for him to step down and are incredulous that he’s trying to hang on until his second term concludes at year-end.

Consider what Brizzi himself wrote to supporters in December, as he was taking heat for his brief stint as a director of Fair Finance Co., an Akron, Ohio, firm co-owned by Durham that government investigators now suspect was a Ponzi scheme.

“As a public official, I am, understandably, held to a higher standard—and any association or action is subject to greater scrutiny,” Brizzi wrote.

Indeed, it’s hard to imagine an elected position in Indiana where impeccable ethics is more essential. As the top prosecutor in the state’s largest county, he has a tough job. His effectiveness is hindered if other players in the process—from deputy prosecutors and defense attorneys to defendants and sitting judges—perceive him as tainted by scandal.

To be sure, not everyone calling for Brizzi to step aside has the purest of motives. Republicans are eager to distance themselves from a politician with no political future. And Democrats are eager to use the controversies involving the prosecutor to cast doubt on the integrity of the entire GOP. The stakes are high as Democrats seek to return to the high-profile post for the first time in 16 years.

But this is more than a bunch of political posturing. Brizzi ruined his political career through his own bad judgment. Those lapses have hurt Brizzi’s ability to do his job—“to relentlessly pursue the bad guys,” as he likes to say. It’s time for him to stop putting his own interests ahead of the city’s and step down.

The Butler way

Butler University’s captivating NCAA tournament run was one of the most inspiring stories in college athletics in years.

The school graduates its players and plays basketball the right way—with tenacious defense and a true team philosophy.

The title game ended “just short of perfect,” as The Washington Post put it, with Gordon Hayward’s half-court shot rimming out, leaving Duke with a 61-59 victory.

“This was a game everyone will remember forever,” Post sports columnist John Feinstein wrote afterward.

“As corny as it might sound, no one lost this game. And the biggest winner wasn’t Duke—although the Blue Devils deserve all possible kudos for hanging on to win—it was the game of basketball.”•

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