Following the money trail in Indiana

| 8/22/2006

The top attorney who helped engineer the Indiana Toll Road lease as part of Gov. Mitch Daniels’ “Major Moves” plan has also been a big Daniels campaign contributor.

The Northwest Indiana Times reported that John Hammond III, an attorney with the firm of Ice Miller, worked for $331 an hour to write up the toll-road lease for the state legislature. Ice Miller is the state’s third-largest law firm.

Hammond has contributed $20,699 to Daniels’ campaign fund, the Times reported.

“They essentially wrote the bill that allowed this lease to happen,” Northwest Indiana Times reporter Patrick Guinane told “Land Line Now” on XM Satellite Radio.

Ice Miller, which did $1.3 million worth of work for the state, also defended the governor and other defendants in a constitutional challenge of “Major Moves” by a group of Indiana residents that included OOIDA Member Randy Nace.

“Not all of that went for the legal defense,” Guinane said, adding that the state did not break down the numbers for him on how much the state spent on the lawsuit defense.

Guinane pointed out that four firms doing $1.6 million worth of work involved in the toll-road lease had also contributed $90,585 to Daniels’ campaign in the past three years.

Nine other firms that weren’t awarded bids were also campaign contributors to the Republican governor.

“It’s pretty common for law firms to make political contributions,” Guinane said.

In late June, Gov. Daniels and the Indiana Finance Authority signed over control of the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road to Spanish-Australian toll-road operators, Cintra-Maquarie, which formed ITR Concession Co. to operate the toll road.

ITR Concession Co. paid the state $3.8 billion in up-front cash for the right to collect the tolls for the next 75 years.

Goldman, Sachs and Co. of New York pocketed $20.1 million for brokering the transaction. That company was not a Daniels campaign contributor, the Times reported.

The $3.8 billion from the lease deal will fund Daniels’ 10-year “Major Moves” plan, which includes about 200 transportation projects around the state.

– by David Tanner, staff writer
Senior Editor Jami Jones contributed to this article.