City hires Lobbyists to push Legislators to grant referendum vote

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Ben Lanka, in today’s Journal Gazette, states that City of Fort Wayne has hired two Lobbying firms to push Indiana Legislators for a referendum vote on the gaming issue in Fort Wayne, Allen County. Great job, Ben! Read the article, then take a moment and leave me a comment about your gut feeling afterwards.

While professing neutrality on the issue, Mayor Tom Henry’s administration quietly hired two law firms to lobby state legislators to advance a public vote on gambling in Fort Wayne.

On the final day of the state legislative session, the city confirmed hiring Krieg DeVault, of Indianapolis, and Taft Stettinius & Hollister, of Cincinnati, to lobby on the city’s behalf regarding gambling issues. Henry said the contracts weren’t intentionally kept secret and the firms were hired only to promote a referendum on gambling, a proposal he has previously supported.

Henry said many people have said getting any gambling issue through the legislature – even a referendum – would be difficult this legislative session. That is why he believed it was necessary to hire both firms.

[…] City Council President Tom Smith, R-1st, said he was unaware the city had hired the firms and was surprised the city did not make such action known to the public. He said it is especially odd because he has heard criticism that the referendum has stalled because the city hasn’t pushed it enough.

“Why would you hire them to work on this referendum and no one seems to know what they’re doing?” Smith said.

[… Smith added it seemed odd the city was spending more money on this issue, but the mayor has yet to host the public meetings he promised on the topic.

Contracts for the firms were not available Wednesday, but Ozzie Mitson, Henry’s business and legislative liaison, said both firms had been working with the city for months. Each firm is being paid $3,000 monthly.

Henry said the firms are registered as lobbyists and there was no secret in hiring them, but no city official ever discussed or announced publicly the firms were hired, either.


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