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One Way Or Another: Kelty Gets A Legal Pass, But Political Cloud Remains

Gavel Swing wide the gate for future candidates who don't want to disclose where their money comes from. The GOP-controlled Allen County Election Board has ruled that it's perfectly fine to pass through personal loans as campaign contributions, regardless of origin.

Fort Wayne mayoral hopeful Matt Kelty did just that last year when he took oodles of cash from campaign staffers, laundered it and stuck it in his campaign account.

Hello, crazy precedent. At least until someone takes the ruling to court or changes the law. (Odds on that? TDW would bet that someone at Legislative Services already has a bill in the works on behalf of at least one lawmaker.)

Here's the story:

"Republican Fort Wayne mayoral nominee Matt Kelty correctly reported $158,000 in loans to his campaign, according to a party-line vote by the Allen County Election Board.

"The board voted 2-1 on a motion saying Kelty did not violate campaign finance laws.

"Allen County Clerk of Courts Therese Brown and member David Wright, both Republicans, voted to clear Kelty. Andy Downs, Democratic member, said he believed Kelty did violate the law and the matter should be investigated by a prosecutor.

"According to campaign finance forms, Kelty reported giving himself loans of $140,000 and $8,000 on Dec. 27. He also reported lending himself another $8,000 in April and delinquently reported a $2,000 loan in late May."

The great thing about all this is that Kelty's going to stay in the race. This is the umpteenth example of his tendency to smudge the ethical line, and the Republicans on the Election Board weren't bright enough to help him out of his PR quandary.

What they could have done was work out an agreement -- ahead of time -- whereby Kelty would agree to repay the loans in exchange for being cleared of wrongdoing. He gets to look quasi-honest, and they don't come down on his tighty-righty ass for pushing the legal envelope.

Instead, Democrats get to use it as a campaign issue, both to motivate their base ("Republicans talk a good game about corruption, but they can't drop the hammer on one of their own") and to illustrate Kelty's less-than-candid nature ("How can you trust a guy who lies about everything from his campaign finances to his athletic history?").

Republicans, meanwhile, remain saddled with an inferior horse in a race in which they previously had even odds.

You have to know when to throw someone under the bus. Not that TDW is going to complain, but Allen County Republicans missed a golden opportunity today to rid themselves of a pesky political problem. They brought an issue to light only to sweep it back under the rug. Great strategy, folks. See you at the finish line.

Comments

Make way for corporations and labor organization to skirt the state imposed contribution limits by loaning money to individuals only to have the individuals then loan or better yet, give the money to candidates. This ruling makes way for corporations to give unlimited amounts of money to candidates against state law provided that the corporations funnel the money through an individual first. Great job Allen County!

Voters in Allen County have to ask themselves if this is the way Kelty will run the city if elected. If elected, the city will soon be paying Bopp's legal bills to defend their executive for some creative statutory interpretation.

ROACH said...
Indiana state law requires many boards and cmissions to have whats called "partisan balance"- that means that there is supposed to be a proportion ing of board members between party's.
One of those boards specified_I dont have the direct law citation; but its there, trust me, or look it up yourself- is county election boards.
Last time I checked, there is an active Libertarian party in allen county- ask bob enders; as well as a Libertarian State party, and should be in every county.

this means that due to the Libs having ballot access, a legitimate 3rd party, that all boards, comissions, and such should have libertarians on them ; including the allen county election board.
As such, this lack of "Partisan balance" renders the ACEB to be an illegally Constituted board, and as such, all decisions rendered by the ACEB null and void, due to illegal composition. As well as all previous decisions by all illegally constituted boards, and commissions as far back as the Libertarian Party has had legal 3rd party ballot access.
I love the thought that this will throw a monky wrench into the works, require 1000's of $$$ to correct , give all aggreived citizens the right to appeal any an all illegally derived decisions by these illegaly consituted boards, and creates a crisis for the Governor, the State house, and any involved administraqtive laws, decisions, appelas, and opens the state of Indiana up to potentially bankrupting magnitude of back judgements, court costs, settlements, and related topics... giggle!!!
This has been a ticking time-bomb, and should Mr. Downs decide to pursue this matter, after his embarassing smackdown by a backwater, nutjob, hick hoosier town lawyer; It will be fun to see.
The ACEB was hornswoggled by Bopp, a "traveling snakeoil salesman"; bambloozled, hoodwinked.
As Bugs Bunny would say- "What a maroon".
Ive read election laws- frequently- you wouldnt play monopoly, without knowing the little quirks that will bankrupt you opponent when he lands on your Park Place, packed with "Roach- Motels"; would you?
Nor should you play the election game without playing by the rules, and knowing the minutia that will keep you from being tripped up.
Brown, Wright, and Downs make a mockery of the system, by their incompetence, and being cowed by Bopp, afore mentioned 1 man traveling circus sideshwo.
Chalk another 1 up for the pro-lifer koolaid drinking nutjobs; and their charlatan lawyers...

What is this "partisan balance" of which you speak? The Indiana Code is quite clear how the County Election Boards are comprised:

"IC 3-6-5-2
Membership
Sec. 2. The following three (3) members comprise each county election board:
(1) The circuit court clerk, who is ex officio a member of the board.
(2) Two (2) persons appointed by the circuit court clerk, one (1) from each of the major political parties of the county.
As added by P.L.5-1986, SEC.2."

Now, if Allen County doesn't have a County Election Board, but rather a Board of Elections and Registration, then this provision applies:

"IC 3-6-5.2-4
Membership of board
Sec. 4. The combined board is comprised of the following five (5) members:
(1) The county chairmen of the major political parties of the county shall each appoint two (2) members of the board. Members of the board appointed under this subdivision must be voters of the county and serve a term of two (2) years or until their successors are appointed.
(2) The circuit court clerk, who is an ex officio member of the board.
As added by P.L.3-1993, SEC.16."

The two major parties do not include as of yet the Libertarian party. The definition of "major political party" is found here:

"IC 3-5-2-30
"Major political party"
Sec. 30. "Major political party" refers to:
(1) with respect to the state, either of the two (2) parties whose nominees received the highest and second highest numbers of votes statewide for secretary of state in the last election; or
(2) with respect to a political subdivision, either of the two (2) parties whose nominees received the highest and second highest numbers of votes in that political subdivision for secretary of state in the last election.
As added by P.L.5-1986, SEC.1."

I'm not a lawyer, but a quick read of these sections of the code makes Roach's comments (at least related to this point) moot.

Now, if you can direct me to the specific code citation that requires partisan balance as you've described it, I'd be interested to read it.

If there is some generic provision that relates to partisan balance, it would yield to this specific language as to how County Election Boards are constituted. I work with enough lawyers to get the general notion of interpreation of statutes, and one of those principles is that a general or non-specific provision generally yields to a specific provision, as in this case.

Frankly, I don't give a whit about the issue going on in Allen County (I don't live there) - I just wanted to post something I felt was more accurate than what I read.

AR

Roach's Clip
** Brown, Wright, and Downs make a mockery of the system, by their incompetence, and being cowed by Bopp, afore mentioned 1 man traveling circus sideshwo. **

So you were there to witness first hand the proceedings of the Board? Downs wasn't cowed by the likes of Bopp. He was the only member to vote to have the the issue sent to the prosecutor's office. Bopp in all likelihood conferred with Brown and Wright along with Shine in providing the words to support their vote.

The only ones that made a mockery of they system were Brown, Wright and Shine but not because of incompetence. It was sheer corruption with a lack of ethics. Kelty and his campaign staff (Rost and the Jehls) were the ones to make a mockery of the system with their scheme to play the law the way they wanted it.

You can keep your job, Jen, since you've appeared to have gone to bat for an office outside of Marion County.

Unfortunately, you expended a ton of energy on this dud of an issue, and you were told this by the smarter posters here, but you need to earn that paycheck, so you'll make a shrill fool of yourself to stay employed.

Work the hustle.

"You can keep your job, Jen, since you've appeared to have gone to bat for an office outside of Marion County."

Huh? I work for the state party, sweets. There's no mayoral race in Marion County, so I go where the action is.

As for shrill foolishness, let's talk in November. Kelty's damaged goods, and the Republicans didn't bother to take him out when they should have.

I can see the direct mail now: "Matt Kelty doesn't want you to know who's funding his campaign. What else isn't he telling us?"

Kelty is done. Kiss him goodbye. It's called a Pyrrhic victory.

Kelty clearly violated the letter and spirit of Indiana election law. For Bopp to call anyone partisan is really quite hilarious. It's amazing that anyone with a law degree could actually make the arguments that Bopp does while keeping a straight face.

Bopp reminds me of what a law professor once told us:

"If the law is on your side, argue the law. If the law is not on your side, argue the facts. If the facts are not on your side, argue the policy. If the policy is not on your side, argue loudly and vociferously."

Republicans will lose every major city's mayoral race in 2007. By a lot. Ouch. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Jim.

Bopp thinks he won because he whipped a hundred right-wingers into a frenzy in that room yesterday.

Anyone can do that.

This has become an outward and visible symbol of the inward and spiritual struggle that's consuming the GOP right now.

You'd think the fringe folks would have learned last cycle that pandering only to the base doesn't win elections.

If you watch the Republicans at the presidential level, it's clearly a race to see who can out-right whom. (What position hasn't Mitt Romney changed to snuggle up to the conservatives?)

And along comes Michael Bloomberg.

Libertarian included on boards?

2004 Elections
President - 18058 out of 2468002 - -> .007
Senator -- 27344 out of 2428233 - -> .011
Governor -- 31664 out of 2448498 - -> .012
Attorney General -- 45212 out of 2388352 - -> .019

Those numbers on the right represent the percentage. Libertarians received less than 2% of the votes cast. Not exactly on the same playing field as the Democratic or Republican Party.

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