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Panel dismisses complaint against Indiana Democrats

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The Indiana Election Commission has dismissed — for now — a campaign finance complaint involving House Democrats who staged a five-week walkout earlier this year.

The panel's Republican chairman, Dan Dumezich, said Thursday that the issue will likely return in January after Democrats file campaign finance reports, according to a Friday report in the Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne.

House Democrats walked off their jobs in the chamber in February and fled to Illinois to protest a Republican agenda they called an assault on labor unions and public education.

In March, a constituent of Rep. Kreg Battles, D-Vincennes, sent an e-mail complaining that Battles accepted illegal campaign contributions by allowing the Indiana Democratic Party to pay for his hotel and meals while he and his colleagues were in Urbana, Ill.

Legislators are prohibited from soliciting or receiving campaign contributions during the long budget session of the General Assembly, which is when the walkout occurred.

The Indiana Democratic Party paid about $95,000 in Urbana expenses, according to its campaign finance report.

While the complaint is specifically against Battles, any finding in the case would likely apply to all the House Democrats who joined in the walkout. Democratic officials contend that they financed a caucus — not campaign activity.

But some Republicans during the walkout said the state party's payment of those expenses should be counted as an in-kind campaign contribution.

"(Battles) came across this money somehow. The question is did he solicit?" Dumezich said. "And unless the Indiana Democratic Party plans to give legislators a 1099 or W2 for the amount of money spent on vacation in Illinois, it had to come from somewhere."

During Thursday's discussion, it became clear that Battles has not filed a campaign finance report for the time period in question because he isn't required to do so until January.

Democratic member Sarah Steele Riordan said given that fact there is no substantial likelihood of a violation.

"I do not understand what we are doing right now," she said.

Dumezich conceded that point and the group voted unanimously to dismiss the complaint.

But he said in January, if the contribution isn't listed on Battles' report, the commission should consider the issue again.

The commission has two Republican members and two Democratic members and often deadlocks on issues with political overtones. It takes three members to penalize a candidate.

Riordan and fellow Democratic member Anthony Long stressed that if the commission began looking into the Indiana Democratic Party, they would have to remove themselves from the proceeding. Riordan is legal counsel for the party, and Long is a member of the Democratic state central committee.

Neither Battles nor Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker attended Thursday's hearing.

"My understanding is that this was not sanctioned by the commission, only Dumezich," Parker said via e-mail. "It's not a formal proceeding, just a fishing expedition."

Members of the election commission never got to the substance of the complaint Thursday because the two Democratic members questioned whether Dumezich had the authority to unilaterally place the item on the agenda for investigation.

Legal counsel for the Republican and Democratic co-directors of the Indiana Election Division differed on Dumezich's authority, so the group asked Attorney General Greg Zoeller for an advisory opinion on the applicable law.

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  • more political spin
    And Charlie White who committed FRAUD voted illegally, and served on a town council when he did not even live in the town...and the Republicans honor him with keeping him Sec of State to oversee elections???
    Something is not right here. And it is the GOP who think the ends justifies the means
  • Dumbocrats Walk Out
    Think about it...if 99% of hard working Hoosiers walked out on their jobs, they would be fired, and not be able to draw unemployment, and have to pay for COBRA. These dumbocrats really set a fine example for their constituants. We should limit polititions terms to two years, and be able to fire the ones that do a bad job. They should also have to pay for their own healthcare. Maybe at this point, politions would at least try to do a better job.

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  1. How is the private developer going to repay the bonds. Is this going to be a toll road?

  2. As well as a Portillio'S!!!!!!

  3. A Lou Malnati's would be awesome!!!!!!!!

  4. We aren't broke. We just aren't willing to raise revenues for this that we should be raising them.

  5. OK. now that the state is taking illegal immigrants, willing or not. There is a major concern that needs to be addressed. First: School starts here in 3 weeks in most parts of the country and probably in Indiana. So is the state going to vaccinate these kids before they intermingle with our kids in school? The problem we are going to have here in the US and possibly in Indiana is that some of these kids could be carrying health issues or diseases that are pretty much eradicated in the US. This could cause a major health issue in the US. Second: Who is going to pay for this building disaster? We are flat out broke….. Down here in Texas, we have 14 counties that have been so swamped with kids, (numerous thousands of them), they are on the verge of financial collapse. Now this is happening in counties in New Mexico, Arizona and California. The system is massively overloaded. Swine flu has started back up in San Antonio since they have nearly 2500 kids that have been placed there and lice is rampant. Not to be insensitive, but we need to stop this madness. I find it amazing that we cannot take care of our veterans and yet give carte blanche to illegals entering the country. Recently an article mentioned that these kids and teenagers can get on planes without TSA screening? What? What the Hell???? Keep in mind this about protecting our national sovereignty as a nation and also living under the rule of law. Not only the terrorist threat that can come over the border. This is a deliberate and irresponsible and illegal act from administration ignoring the constitutional duty of protecting the borders and also upholding the supreme law of the land. This is a classic Cloward and Piven strategy to overload the system until it collapses.

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