Friday, April 20, 2007

Allen Co. Right To Life President Paid For Kelty Poll

The mystery surrounding who paid for a Zogby poll cited by Fort Wayne GOP mayoral candidate Matt Kelty to bolster his own campaign is over. Fort Wayne Observed's Mitch Harper is reporting that Fred Rost, the president of the Allen County Right to Life Committee, released a statement saying he paid for the poll. According to Rost's statement, the polling costs are being forwarded to Kelty's campaign to be reported as an in-kind contribution, although he claims Kelty is not legally responsible for claiming it under Indiana election law. In a statement entitled, "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished", Rost wrote:

This morning I released mayoral candidate Matt Kelty from his pledge of confidentiality regarding the source of the Zogby International poll, which I commissioned. I am disappointed that the issue of who paid for the Zogby poll has become more important than the data that resulted from it. My desire was to get some objective data on this issue for the purposes of representing the interests of the citizens of Fort Wayne, and change the dynamics of the discussion which is biased to the administration, and perhaps not representative of the majority of Fort Wayne residents. I think the release of the results of the poll have achieved that objective.

Given that both newspapers are advocating for the project, and only one mayoral candidate has vigorously opposed the project as proposed, I felt that providing the information to the Kelty campaign was an effective way to ensure there was both an advocate for the people of Fort Wayne, and an unbiased reporting of the results. Matt Kelty has courageously led the charge opposing the project as proposed, and has forced the administration, city council, and his primary opponent to move on this issue. That might not have happened otherwise. The Kelty campaign immediately provided the results of the Zogby poll to the media, to its primary opponent , and most importantly to the public (via posting on the internet). That is more than can be said for those sponsoring other polls on this issue in the last weeks. In the spirit of full disclosure, I challenge the sponsors of those subsequent polls to release the results of their polls regarding Harrison Square.

In accordance with Indiana Code, the Kelty campaign is under no legal obligation to claim the results of the Zogby poll as an in-kind contribution. However, I have provided it to the campaign to be accounted for as an in-kind contribution to avoid the ensuing attack on Matt Kelty undoubtedly planned by members of the Allen County Democratic Party, members of the Election Board, and the proponents of Harrison Square should he not claim it.

Focusing on who funded the poll only serves to distract from the fact that 54% of Fort Wayne residents are opposed to the Harrison Square project as proposed by the city, and nearly 76% of these same people oppose the ballpark and public financing aspects of the project. These results represent Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, who all plan to vote in the primary. Who funded the poll does not change the outcome of the answers to the questions put to citizens by Zogby. The fact that some people are more interested in the who of the poll, versus the results, is just another indication of why we need a change in city government. If a subsequent poll has results which show increased public approval for Harrison Square, I’d sure like to see it. On May 8th I’ll vote for the candidates best representing the interests of the people of Fort Wayne.

Now that Rost has been identified, the perception the poll was coordinated with Kelty's campaign is only intensified. Although Rost cites the Harrison project and other Fort Wayne public projects as the impetus for the poll, questions about those projects did not come until late in the poll. The earlier questions in the poll were focused on the Fort Wayne mayoral primary and, specifically, the match-up between Kelty and County Commissioner Nelson Peters. Curiously, the poll questioned voters on their religion and whether they were "born-again, evangelical or fundamentalist Christian."

Religion has played a prominent role in Kelty's campaign. Kelty has played up earlier endorsements from Allen County Right to Life and the Indiana Family Action PAC. When Kelty earlier denied knowing who paid for the poll, he suggested there was more than one individual responsible for the poll. As Fort Wayne Observed quoted Kelty in an exclusive interview:

Well, I will tell you this -- and I don't even know who all is involved in the group that did this, but the few guys that I do know don't have any direct involvement in campaigns. They were excited about -- and they're concerned about Harrison Square, so they were excited about that aspect in particular, and I think because of my well-publicized concerns regarding Harrison Square, building another baseball stadium by the public's dollar, they thought of me immediately and called me up and said, "Would you like to know the results of a poll that we commissioned?" and I said, "You know what? I'd love to. Can I use it? Please?" They said, "Yes, just don't tell anybody where it came from." So I said, "Alright, fine" . . .

"I don't understand, I mean if -- this was not something we commissioned, it's not something I paid for, it's not something that our campaign was responsible for. It's information which they could release except they don't want the notoriety and the exposure so they thought, "Well, Kelty will love this information. We'll give it to Kelty and he'll use it." And you know what? They're right."

Rost's sponsorship of the poll is further indication of just how much Kelty is relying on the religious right to win next month's mayoral primary. Given the earlier endorsement Kelty received from Rost's group, the news also creates credibility problems for him. Kelty's earlier denial that the person(s) who paid for the poll had no direct involvement in his campaign seems less than candid in light of Rost's disclosure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Indiana's campaign finance laws are lax, but in-kind work must be properly reported. The tagline on any news release or ads referencing this poll should likely carry a disclaimer that it was "not authorized by any candidate" or something similar.

Not that these goofs would let the law get in their way.