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Financial questions hound Indiana state treasurer candidates

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Financial questions from years-old deals are dogging two top candidates seeking the Republican nomination for state treasurer and evoking memories of previous intraparty battles.

For Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold, questions about a deal to redevelop a former YMCA building in the city's core have bubbled up. A fight among church officials over a land sale has crept into financial adviser Don Bates' race.

Both cases are old transactions, but the questions have persisted as each man seeks the Republican Party's nod to become one of the state's chief investment officers.

Seybold, Bates and Kelly Mitchell, a top staffer in the treasurer's office, will seek the nomination next week during the Republican Party convention in Fort Wayne. The three are looking to replace Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who is term-limited and cannot seek re-election in November.

Seybold faces scrutiny over a $2.5 million loan Marion made in 2009 to a Korean businessman, Michael An. The money was offered through tax-increment financing, a popular economic development tool that provides developers money up front in return for the guarantee their property tax payments will repay that debt in the future.

But The Marion Chronicle-Tribune has reported extensively on questions about the deal -- including whether the money was spent properly and if it will be repaid to the city. The paper's most recent story focused on a city refinancing of that loan in 2011 that decoupled the property tax payments from the loan, leaving open the possibility it may not be repaid if the project falls through.

Seybold said last week that the questions have been blown out of proportion and that the project is moving forward after hitting some road bumps. He calls the redevelopment of the former YMCA building crucial to his city's rehabilitation.

And he blames political opponents, including Grant County Democrats, for trying to take advantage of the statewide attention being paid to him as he runs for treasurer.

"Now you fast forward to me running for state treasurer, and now this has become this big political hot button," Seybold said.

In Bates' case, a former pastor at the church he attends accused him in a 2010 lawsuit of illegally selling $7,900 in church property. The suit, which was uncovered by libertarian blogger and talk show host Gary Snyder, is set for trial in August.

The Bates campaign provided a statement from local prosecutor David Daly saying he decided not to pursue criminal charges. It also provided a statement from a church official, saying that the former pastor did not speak on the church's behalf.

Whether the years-old issues resonate with the roughly 1,700 convention delegates remains to be seen.

Seybold has the backing of the state's establishment Republicans, while Bates is working with support from social conservatives and Tea Partyers.

Convention battles have proven to be some of the nastiest, in part because the target audience is not the voting public, but a select number of delegates. In the 2002 convention battle for secretary of state, Mourdock squared off against Mike Delph, now a state senator, and Todd Rokita, now a congressman. During the convention battle, flyers were circulated falsely claiming that Delph was throwing his support behind Mourdock.

Rokita ultimately won, served two terms and used the office as a launching pad for a congressional run. Mourdock won the treasurer's nomination in 2006 and is now term-limited from seeking re-election.

Whoever wins the nomination this year will face Democrat Mike Boland, a former Illinois lawmaker, in the general election.

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  • Perhaps?
    Perhaps, the Republicans need to re-announce this particular position. Wanted: a staunch Republican, willing to sacrifice the honor of the State, and whose sole purpose is the advance of their family's values. Whoops, wait, Eric Turner has that slot...
  • Illinois politicians running in our state?
    that has to say something about Illinois. Democrats are running a guy from that state? Please you can do better than that. Picking a former politician from the most corrupt state in the Country.......... Ill pass.
  • oh wow
    please start over.

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  1. It is nice and all that the developer grew up here and lives here, but do you think a company that builds and rehabs cottage-style homes has the chops to develop $150 Million of office, retail, and residential? I'm guessing they will quickly be over their skis and begging the city for even more help... This project should occur organically and be developed by those that can handle the size and scope of something like this as several other posters have mentioned.

  2. It amazes me how people with apparently zero knowledge of free markets or capitalism feel the need to read and post on a business journal website. Perhaps the Daily Worker would suit your interests better. It's definitely more sympathetic to your pro government theft views. It's too bad the Star is so awful as I'm sure you would find a much better home there.

  3. In other cities, expensive new construction projects are announced by real estate developers. In Carmel, they are announced by the local mayor. I am so, so glad I don't live in Carmel's taxbase--did you see that Carmel, a small Midwest suburb, has $500 million in debt?? That's unreal! The mayor thinks he's playing with Lego sets and Monopoly money here! Let these projects develop organically without government/taxpayer backing! Also, from a design standpoint, the whole town of Carmel looks comical. Grand, French-style buildings and promenades, sitting next to tire yards. Who do you guys think you are? Just my POV as a recent transplant to Indy.

  4. GeorgeP, you mention "necessities". Where in the announcement did it say anything about basic essentials like groceries? None of the plans and "vision" have basic essentials listed and nothing has been built. Traffic WILL be a nightmare. There is no east/west road capacity. GeorgeP, you also post on www.carmelchatter.com and your posts have repeatedly been proven wrong. You seem to have a fair amount of inside knowledge. Do you work on the third floor of Carmel City Hal?

  5. I don't know about the commuter buses...but it's a huge joke to see these IndyGo buses with just one or two passengers. Absolutely a disgusting waste of TAXPAYER money. Get some cojones and stop funding them. These (all of them) council members work for you. FIRE THEM!

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