News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

November 13, 2007

Greg Gibson responds to accusations

Terre Haute businessman targeted during election

TERRE HAUTE — As a businessman involved in high-profile projects around Terre Haute, Greg Gibson says he accepts that some people will take issue with aspects of those ventures involving local government.

“I can respect somebody’s right to disagree and criticize projects,” Gibson said last week from his office on Haythorne Avenue, “so that doesn’t bother me so much. It comes with the territory.”

However, public criticism reached new territory for Gibson during this year’s Terre Haute mayoral campaign, as he saw it.

Political fliers mailed to households across the city on the weekend before the Nov. 6 election attacked not only the policies of incumbent Democratic Mayor Kevin Burke, but also claimed that projects such as the construction of two downtown hotels, the multimodal parking facility, the Terre Haute Children’s Museum, a $550,000 access road from Indiana 46 to a planned retail development owned by Gibson, and other ventures involved tax breaks for Gibson as political favors from the mayor.

Some of the unsigned stories in the fliers made other accusations about Gibson’s extended family and business associates.

The fliers were produced by a group called Democrats for Duke, whose members opposed Burke’s re-election bid and instead backed Republican challenger Duke Bennett. In the Nov. 6 election, Bennett won by a 107-vote margin, although Burke has since filed for a recount.

In an interview with the Tribune-Star last week, Bennett said he had no knowledge of the fliers’ content, and was not consulted about that in advance. Campaign mailings generated by Bennett himself did not include the accusatory language. “And I feel it’s unfortunate that … there were things in there that offended people, and there were things in there that I would never put in any, and that’s why it wasn’t in any of my literature,” Bennett said.

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