Monday, February 11, 2013

Council President Maggie Lewis - Conflict of Interest

Indianapolis City-County Council President, Maggie Lewis, has a conflict of interest in Prop 48.  The only question is, is that a conflict real or an appearance?

Prop 48 will be introduced at tonight's Council meeting.  She is the sole sponsor of this proposal that seeks to switch the Crime Prevention granting authority from the Indianapolis Parks Foundation to the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF).  Gary Welsh over at Advance Indiana remarked on this the other day.

The conflict arises because Lewis is the Executive Director of Dove Recovery House, a facility that has received Crime Prevention grants the past 3 years and which lists "Indianapolis Foundation (a CICF Affiliate)" as a 'Partner'.  When you visit the CICF website you find that CICF is a partnership between Indianapolis Foundation and the Legacy Fund

Dove Recovery House was awarded a $75,000 Crime Prevention grant in 2010, a $100,000 Crime Prevention grant in 2011, and a $160,360 Crime Prevention grant in 2012.  The 2012 grant was the highest amount awarded to any organization that year.

From tax returns posted on, it appears that Lewis became affiliated with Dove Recovery House some time in 2010.  No 2011 tax return is yet available on this site, and the previous years tax returns do not mention Lewis in any capacity.  For 2010, Lewis is named as the person who has the organization's books.  Unfortunately, the page that would list the names of Board Members and significant employees (like executive director), is missing, and the expenses are not itemized.  According to the summary page of that tax return total funding grew from $54,885 the previous year to $120,759 in 2010, largely as a result of the increase in grant funding from $16,690 to $68,910.  Meanwhile, aggregate salaries grew from $1,378 to $76,574.

It would seem that the Crime Prevention grant allowed salaries to be offered by Dove Recovery House, and likely, Lewis was one of those salaried employees.

The Dove Recovery House website lists 7 employees and 13 'Partners'; the latter of which are likely funders or providers of in-kind donations.  Again, "Indianapolis Foundation (a CICF Affiliate)" is one of those listed under 'Partners'.

Whereas the Crime Prevention grants seem to have offered the extra cash to Dove Recovery House to reinstate salaries, thereby directly benefiting Lewis, would seem to be conflict enough for Lewis to have found someone else to sponsor Prop 48.  But given the relationship between CICF and one of Dove Recovery House's 'Partners', it is additionally troubling and could easily call into question the impartiality of CICF, should Dove Recovery House again apply for a grant.

As I stated at the beginning, this is either the appearance of a conflict of interest on President Lewis' part, or a real conflict of interest.  In either case, she should step aside from Prop 48.


Paul K. Ogden said...
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Paul K. Ogden said...

CICF is not a governmental body. Why would we give to a nongovernmental body the right to hand out the public's money

Had Enough Indy? said...

I really don't understand that, either. However, the same could be said for Indy Parks Foundation doing the work and collecting the administration costs ($200-300,000). But, at least they are solely Marion County oriented. The Legacy Fund, the other foundation that formed CICF, is out of Hamilton County.