SBD/February 22, 2013/Facilities

IMS Increased Political Lobbying, Donations Before Asking Legislature For Financial Help

IMS wanted to be more than "a passive observer” in the political landscape
Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the middle of '11 "began donating tens of thousands of dollars to political candidates," and by the time the '12 election season ended, IMS had "contributed more than $100,000 to Hoosier politicians and campaign committees," according to Alex Campbell of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. That amount is 12 times more than IMS officials "had donated over the entire previous 10 years when such contributions totaled about $8,500." IMS COO Doug Boles said, “We made a strategic decision that it was time to be more than a passive observer.” He added that the speedway’s "increased involvement arose from a general desire to become more politically active and came before it made specific plans to ask for state assistance." Boles: "It did not coincide with our planning." Campbell writes, "Whatever the timing or motivation, the strategic decision seems to be working." A bill pushed by IMS to create a taxing district to help fund facility improvements is "zooming through the Indiana General Assembly." IMS' contributions "began to pick up" in July '11. Boles said that by that time, IMS had "hired Bose Public Affairs Group, a government affairs firm." Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics Dir Andrew Downs said that Bose "is well-regarded and well-connected in politics." Downs: "If you’re looking to get into the game, they are certainly one of the firms that would come to mind pretty quickly." Boles said in talking with Bose, IMS decided to "invest in the entire process." That meant "supporting candidates at the state and local levels in both political parties." IMS for the first time since '00 also registered "as a lobbying organization with the Indiana Lobby Registration Commission" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 2/22).
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