Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Election Board Whitewash

The Allen County Election Board voted down party lines and in a 2-1 vote said that they found no violations of campaign finance laws and would not recommend forwarding it to the county prosecutor.

It was a pathetic display all around. The two Republican board members (Therese Brown and David Wright) asked ONE question between the two of them and Bopp didn't directly answer a SINGLE QUESTION from Andy Downs' (D) list.

The structure of the meeting was a joke. I assumed it would be a Q&A session that would allow for the board members to have their questions answered by Bopp and/or Kelty. Instead, it started off with Downs giving a 15 minute presentation covering the law, his own commentary and numerous questions.

Instead of answering any of the questions, Bopp immediately attacked Downs:
Frankly I'm taken aback because I've been doing this a long time and have gone before many state and county election boards and I've never seen the prosecutor sit on the board.

You are a Democrat and you have a motive and are acting as the prosecutor. We're not in your classroom.

As expected, Bopp's argument was that the only loans that need to be reported are those made TO the committee. Of course the law explicitly states that loans made TO OR FOR the committee need to be reported but Bopp glossed over that section of the code and nobody challenged him on it. Then he continued his disrespect towards Downs and drew applause from the crowd when he said that Downs was a partisan that was trashing Kelty. He then continued with the same stump speech he made at the press conference.

Eventually Bopp made his argument for why the matter should not be sent to the prosecutor:
There's no case law covering this and since this is not a clear cut matter, and there's no substantial evidence, then it doesn't meet the requirement to be sent to the prosecutor. You need to have a substantial reason to believe there was a violation.

For those of you not in attendance - be thankful. While I've commended our city council for being a shining example of democracy, today's election board hearing was democracy at its worst. How can the Republican board members not have A SINGLE question to ask? To be fair, Wright did ask one question but it was an open ended softball question:
Could you discuss the issue of the contribution being made in another's name?
Give me a break. At least he feigned a question - Brown didn't even bother. Her only statement was to say that Downs' presentation was highly subjective and that she didn't see any violation.

And what did Wright have to say of his decision:
I've spent many a sleepless night on this issue. For Therese and I, we're damned if you do and damned if you don't. I want to come out of here with my integrity and honor. I absolutely can't find any violation as the statute stands today. Is there a loophole? Possibly.

Honor and integrity are not words I would use to describe today's hearing. I think the same outcome could have been reached while maintaining the integrity of the election board had the Republican members actually done their job and tried to get some answers. But such is life when dealing with the Allen County Republican Party.

As I was leaving another local blogger asked me what I thought about the hearing and I flipped to the last page in my notebook where I had inscribed a single word that encapsulated my feelings

WHITEWASH

12 comments:

Craig said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Craig said...

Bopp sounds like a real piece of work. His attitude towards Downs is emblematic of most conservatives these days. They like attacking anyone who wants to work as an educator. I think it's rooted in the anti-intellecutalism that has resided in the party since the late 1960s.

Charlotte A. Weybright said...

Jeff:

I thought this might be the result when I posted earlier about the vote being on party lines, not actual and open discussion and ferreting out the facts.

Would it be fair to say that the two Republican members either were intimidated by Bopp or that they were hesitant about taking action against Kelty for fear of repercussions? I am not sure, but the fact that they didn't bother either to ask more than one perfunctory question or no questions at all seems to indicate they must have made up their minds long before the hearing.

Jeff Pruitt said...

Craig: You have no idea. The guy exudes arrogance and he could've never gotten away w/ the crap he pulled today in a courtroom.

Charlotte: I guess I was too optimistic. I really can't speak for why the didn't probe the issue more but it was quite obvious that their minds were definitely made up before the hearing...

Robert Enders said...

This is one of those things that we will have to agree to disagree on. But this is what I propose to avoid this type of controversy in the future.
1. The state legislature should update election laws and close the loan loophole.
2. The election boards in every county should consist of 2 Republicans, 2 democrats, and 1 Libertarian or indepedent to break ties.

Karen Goldner said...

Immediately after the hearing a friend who is a Kelty supporter called to report in - she felt that Bopp had really outshone Downs and put him down in a way that she thought was deserved.

Not having been at the hearing, I wouldn't begin to comment on what actually happened. But I bring this up to illustrate that the entire situation became irrelevant to the politics of the campaign some time ago: Kelty supporters think he's wonderful, and persecuted, and now has beaten the establishment and vindicated his honor; Kelty opponents feel exactly the opposite.

I've spoken with several hundred people going door-to-door since the issue surfaced, and have yet to find an entire handful who have even mentioned it. Those who do seem to reinforce their initial opinion about Kelty pro or con.

Certainly now that the Election Board has found that Kelty didn't violate election law, it would seem that there is a need for the legislature to take action to fix the loophole that Kelty found. The alternative is for campaign reporting to become meaningless, as contributors can give/loan money to candidates who may then contribute such donations to their campaign and report them as if they came from the candidate him/her self rather than the other party.

Jeff Pruitt said...

There is no loophole! How would the legislature change the law to make it any more explicit than it already is?

For me it's not about Kelty per se - it's about the rule of law. I'm sick and tired of leaders in this community ignoring the law. I have too much to write about this for a comment - I'll make a toplevel post...

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...

Karen Goldner said...

I don't disagree with you, Jeff, and I have spoken with a legislator who also believes that the statute is quite clear.

But the opinion that matters here is the Election Board. They apparently believe that Kelty did not violate the law. To me, the fact that they can make such a claim is reason enough for the law to be made more explicit.

At this point there is an exception large enough to drive a truck through, and if the legislature doesn't clean it up than no one will ever be able to believe campaign finance reports again.

Craig said...

"The election boards in every county should consist of 2 Republicans, 2 democrats, and 1 Libertarian or indepedent to break ties."

Wouldn't the Libertarians actually have to win some sort of office first? I'm just sayin'.

Charlotte A. Weybright said...

Would someone please explain to me where the loophole is? Those who support Kelty don't even acknowledge a loophole because they think their candidate has done no wrong. Others chalk up the board's decision to a loophole.

In reading the statutes, I don't see a loophole; I see a statute that clearly states the definition of a contribution/donation and a companion statute that requires reporting it.

I am seriously asking a question here? Where is the loophole?

This reminds me of the "missing" weapons of mass destruction. Bush and company argued they were there but could never find them and never did find them.

Those arguing for a change in campaign laws are arguing a loophole exists. It should be referred to as the "missing" loophole until we find it.

The campaign laws were changed back in 1986 according to statutory history references, so I would have thought this issue would have arisen way before this. I can't believe this is the first time a candidate got away with this.

Jeff Pruitt said...

State law is also quite clear on the formation of the election board and there is no requirement to have a Libertarian member.

What the Republicans on the board have voted for is the end of campaign finance reporting. All one has to do is draft a generic promissory note when you give your donation. Voila! No reporting necessary...