by Abdul-Hakim Shabazz

Let’s face it, up until now the race for Mayor of Indianapolis has been pretty boring.  Up until now.

You see, I was watching the October 16th debate on WISH-TV between Democrat Joe Hogsett and Republican Chuck Brewer.  It was pretty standard stuff and the two candidates actually seemed to agree more than they disagreed.

And then there was the question about Covanta. (14 minutes into the debate)

Covanta was the recycling company that entered into an agreement to address the city’s waste issue.  The Mayor’s office says it will promote recycling, opponents have said it was bad for the city and would not encourage recycling.

So what does this have to do with the Mayor’s race?

Well, when the question came up during the debate, Hogsett said he couldn’t speak to it because of a conflict of interest.  Under the Rules of Professional Conduct, Indiana attorneys cannot do anything that would adversely affect a client. (See Rule 7.1)  There’s a conflict because Convanta was represented by Bose Public Affairs, which is owned in part by Bose McKinney Evans where Hogsett works and lawyers from his firm worked on the deal.

Now here’s where it gets interesting, in an April 8 column in the Indianapolis Star, Hogsett called the justice center plan “troubling” and said city leaders should “slow down”.  Well guess what, the firm lobbying on behalf of the city for the Justice Center was  also Bose Public Affairs, which Bose McKinney Evans,  where Hogsett works, is part owner.  And since the Justice Center deal didn’t go through, an argument could be made that Hogsett’s statement had an adverse impact on a client which his firm had a contractual, legal relationship.

Now later in the debate Hogsett said he would work to carry on the work that Mayor Ballard had done, so that might have mitigated some of the damage.  We’ll see.

Maybe this Mayor’s race just got more interesting.

By the way, I did ask Hogsett about the Justice Center and whether that presented an ethical challenge back in May.  You can hear his response here (it’s at 9:00).

Abdul is the editor and publisher of IndyPolitics.Org.