Hamilton County politics have turned personal and divisive as Republican Party officials on Saturday seek to appoint a new chairman.
Fishers City Council President Pete Peterson and Carmel City Councilwoman Laura Campbell are vying for the position, which is crucial for organizing the party during elections . . .
The vacancy comes after Pete Emigh unexpectedly resigned Dec. 31 after about five years in the position. Emigh was criticized during his tenure for supporting some Republicans over others in primary races. Before leaving office, he quietly filled 71 vacant precinct positions.
Political insiders say the eleventh-hour appointments largely are among people likely to support Peterson, a political ally of Emigh's. The appointments include Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness, Fishers city employees, business people who work with Fishers, and Peterson's daughter.
The situation gets more intriguing. Campbell, the county party vice chair, took over as acting party chair Dec. 31. She said she was surprised at that point to discover the late appointments had been made. She said Emigh did not follow the correct notification procedures to appoint precinct officials, an allegation he denied. She dismissed those 71 appointments.
But that decision did not stand for long.
Fadness appealed his dismissal to the Indiana Republican Party, which decided this week to reinstate all of Emigh's appointments.
But there's a catch. If the 71 appointments give Peterson the victory, Campbell can appeal the decision to the state Republican Party . . .
An anonymous letter was sent to county party officials this week detailing arrests and convictions for Peterson for giving fictitious information, resisting law enforcement, writing bad checks and driving on a suspended license in North Carolina. Allegations also have circulated about his bankruptcy, which was filed in 2011.
Peterson feels like he is being unfairly targeted for past mistakes. He sent out a letter to county party members that he is in his 24th year of sobriety and made bad decisions as a younger man that he regrets. He blamed the more recent bankruptcy on family medical issues. More than $50,000 of the $167,086 listed in his bankruptcy filing are directly related to medical expenses. The remainder are credit expenses.
He was surprised and disappointed by the letter . . .