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Some familiar names make campaign-finance violation list

Election Board will deal with larger-than-normal group this week

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 9:11 am

The new head of the state's economic development agency, four sitting elected officials, a former mayoral candidate who pleaded guilty to criminal charges and a group supporting improvements to Fort Wayne Community Schools are among those facing fines for missing the deadlines for filing campaign finance reports.

The Allen County Election Board will meet Thursday and is expected to impose fines totaling thousands of dollars against at least 20 individuals or groups. It has been board policy to impose a fine of $25 per day for candidates not in office and $50 per day for officeholders and others.

The largest fine – a maximum $1,000 – could be imposed on the “REPAIR FWCS” political-action committee that successfully advocated a voter-approved tax increase to pay for building improvements. The PAC has a balance of about $22,500 but did not file its pre-election form, due last October, until this month.

The other fines would result from failure to file 2012 annual reports by noon Jan. 16.

Eric Doden, a Fort Wayne businessman who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for mayor in 2011, could be fined $150. Earlier this month, Gov. Mike Pence tapped Doden to serve as chief executive officer of the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

Elected officials facing fines are Republican City Council President Tom Didier ($100), Republican County Councilman Tom Harris and Kevin Howell ($50 each), and Republican New Haven City Councilman Craig Dellinger, also $50.

Matt Kelty, the 2007 Republican mayoral candidate who pleaded guilty in 2008 for failing to disclose more than $150,000 in campaign loans from Fred Rost and Steve and Glenna Jehl, could be fined $25 for filing “a few hours late,” Beth Dlug, director of elections, said. Although Kelty is prohibited from seeking local office, he cannot close his campaign account until the outstanding loans are paid, Dlug added.

Others facing fines include: former Republican County Councilman James Ball; former Democratic City Councilwoman Karen Goldner; Allen County Council candidate Gina Burgess; FWCS board candidate Michael Davis; former Republican County Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Paula Hughes; Democratic City Council candidate the Rev. Michael Latham; former Democratic City Councilman Tim Pape; Democratic County Council candidate Ken Saylor; former Republican Wayne Township Trustee Matt Schomburg; Democratic City Council candidate Steven Shafer; Republican Wayne Township Trustee candidate Tim Smith; Republican County Surveyor candidate Jeff Sorg; and Democratic County Treasurer candidate Scott Williams.

As of Tuesday, Dlug said, Williams still had not filed – pushing his possible fine to more than $860. Other possible fines of more than $100 include Ball ($325) and Sorg ($200).

Collected fines pay for the enforcement of campaign-finance laws, said Dlug, who suggested that the larger-than-usual number of violations could be due to oversights caused by a busy election season. Candidates could avoid fines by closing their campaign accounts, but they – not the Election Board – must take that step, Dlug said.

All candidates are informed of filing deadlines, she added.