As a public official who follows the letter of the law and who has spent the better part of his adult life bringing criminals to justice in the fair and balanced courts of Marion County, I feel it’s necessary to question the fair and balanced reporting on the part of Cory Schouten in his article, “Brizzi’s lease deals benefited friend, donor,” published March 15.
The article outlines the lease agreement and subsequent amendments of the prosecutor’s office space at 251 E. Ohio St., brokered by John Bales, as contracted by my predecessor Scott Newman in 2002. As reported, my office has exercised options within the lease resulting in amendments. The lease and subsequent amendments have saved taxpayers more than $1.5 million. The lease and amendments were completed following the legal guidelines required for property occupied by public officials, including bipartisan City-County Council approval, but Schouten has misrepresented several key facts within each of these amendments.
The article states that the first amendment extended the lease for 18 months for no apparent reason; however, the lease was in fact extended by 15 months and saved taxpayers more than $300,000 in the process by exercising the first and second options of the lease. Nothing in the lease suggests it was extended due to any construction costs overrun, as the article suggests. Additionally, the article claims that Bales received a $51,000 commission check for this amendment, which is not true.
The article also states that the second lease amendment waived three months of free rent in order to cover the cost of connecting the computer network in the space to the City-County Building. Nothing in the lease states that. In reality, the second amendment was for approximately $120,000 in tenant improvements, including furniture, cabling, data, wiring and equipment. The article states that Bales collected a $12,000 commission check for this amendment, which also isn’t true.
Schouten also discusses my outside business interests, which are wholly unrelated to my work as Marion County prosecutor. I am both legally and ethically permitted to have outside business interests, and the proper checks and balances have been built within the prosecutor’s office to prevent favoritism influenced by either campaign contributions, friendships or outside business dealings.
Just as I take extreme care to carefully analyze and present facts in the court of law, it is imperative that IBJ present facts in a fair and balanced fashion.
Marion County prosecutor