Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Durham's Potential Troubles Could Spell Trouble for Local Pols

The Indianapolis Star, the IBJ as well as several other local news agencies are reporting that Obsidian Enterprises' offices on the top floor of the Chase Tower have been raided by the FBI this afternoon. Fox 59 further reports that CEO Tim Durham has been taken into custody or is talking to the FBI in Los Angeles. John Thompkins, Durham's attorney, disputes Fox 59's report and says that Durham is cooperating completely.

Details are sketchy, but the FBI doesn't just barge into someone's office with sealed search warrants for fun. There has been a lot of scrutiny turned Durham's way since the Indianapolis Business Journal published an expose piece on Fair Finance Company, an Ohio firm held as part of Durham's portfolio. Local bloggers Terry Burns of the Indianapolis Times Blog and Gary Welsh...yes Gary...credit where credit is due here...have been on the story.

The political implications will be major if Durham is convicted of anything. According to Indianapolis Monthly Magazine, Durham has given $50K to Governor Mitch Daniels' campaign and $160K to drinking buddy Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's campaign. Durham also has ties to Democratic Mayoral candidate Brian Williams who was a co-founder of Obsidian with Durham even touting his work with Durham on his personal website as an accomplishment. These folks aren't the only candidates with campaign money or other ties to Durham.

Campaignmoney.com says that Durham shelled out over 19K in donations last federal go-around in 2008. He gave $2,300 to Congressional candidate Jon Elrod, $4,600 to Congressman Baron Hill, $12,500 to the Indiana Republican Central Committee, and $2,300 to former NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani. The same site says that he shelled out $3,794 to Richard Lugar in 2006. He also gave Baron Hill $1,000 more in 2004 along with $2,300 for the Bush-Cheney ticket and a whopping $22,500 for the Indiana Republican Central Committee. Brose McVey received $2,000 from Durham in his failed '02 bid to knock off Julia Carson, and the DNC took in $3,000 from Durham in 2000 with the RNC collecting $300 that same year from his bank account.

UPDATE: Add Republican Sheriff candidate Tim Motsinger to those with ties to Durham. This article from atgeist.com talks about Durham and Motsinger's longtime friendship. Motsinger's own website touts Durham as a supporter.

I'm not saying anything is necessarily untoward here. Politicians need money to run campaigns, and Durham has or had a lot of it. His influence in the form of campaign contributions stretch long and far. Motsinger and others now have some explaining to do, and, for most, it's likely not any fault of their own.

Chris Worden over at the IPOPA Blog weighs in with some more tale of the tape from Durham's political contributions.


Wilson46201 said...

I'm sure Gary Welsh will be stridently demanding Jon Elrod give away that "tainted Obsidian money" to a worthwhile charity. Right?

Actually, it's unlikely Welsh will mention any of Durham's contributions except to Brizzi. Gary has a very selective sense of outrage...

Anonymous said...

The last thing the Dems need is a candidate for mayor connected with Durham. Williams has posted one his website as one of his achievements that he helped Durham start his business....OOPS!!!

Anonymous said...

It is Brizzi that has internal ties to Durham, not Brian Williams.