Friday, March 16, 2012

IYG License Plates Suspended, Along With Two Other Specialty Plates

Gay rights advocates believed efforts to revamp the specialty license plate program during this year's legislative session were aimed at the Indiana Youth Group, a nonprofit organization that serves LGBT youth. The controversy ignited after the organization won the right to issue a specialty license plate. A complaint filed with the BMV by conservative senator, however, prompted an investigation by the BMV that has resulted in the suspension of the issuance of the group's specialty plates in the future. The investigation also resulted in the suspension of the specialty groups offered by two other nonprofit organizations, including the 4-H Foundation and the Greenways Foundation. The BMV found that the three organizations violated their contract with the agency by offering low-digit license plates in consideration for an additional monetary contribution to the organization. The BMV issued a press release today announcing the suspension of plates offered by the three organization:
At the written request of twenty Indiana Senators, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) has reviewed allegations that the Indiana Youth Group (IYG) violated its professional services contract for participation in the Special Group Recognition License Plate Program with the BMV by offering low-digit license plates for unauthorized monetary contributions.
The BMV has determined that the IYG violated state law and Indiana Administrative Code, along with Section 1.A.viii of the contract, and has suspended IYG's further participation in the Special Group Recognition License Plate Program, effective March 16, 2012. 
After the Senators brought this violation to our attention, the BMV reviewed the websites of all other organizations currently participating in the Special Group Recognition License Plate Program and found that the Greenways Foundation and the Indiana 4-H Foundation have also violated state law and administrative code by publicizing the sale of low-digit special group license plates for their respective organizations. Therefore, the BMV is also suspending their further participation in the Special Group Recognition License Plate Program, effective March 16, 2012. No new plates will be issued for these three organizations after that date; however, plates already issued may be renewed until the Legislature alters or clarifies the Special Group Recognition License Plate Program. This decision was based on the Indiana Code limiting the fees that the BMV may collect to $25.00 and the Indiana Administrative Code prohibiting the unauthorized sale of low digit plates. This provision was originally added to the Indiana Administrative Code to prevent license plate fundraising abuse when the BMV was a political operation.
All organizations in the specialty group plate program will receive notice from the BMV reminding them of the provisions of the Indiana Code and Indiana Administrative Code that prohibit the unauthorized sale of their low-digit plates. If proof of similar activity by any other organization is brought to the BMV, the BMV staff will pursue and administer similar sanctions based on similar circumstances.
Kind of reminds me of problems that arose in the Illinois Secretary of State's office several years back where low-digit or vanity plates could be acquired in consideration for a contribution to the Secretary of State's campaign committee. I used to have a vanity plate when I lived in Illinois, which I obtained with the assistance of my state legislator. Oddly, it was one of the most common requests state lawmakers received from their constituents. I'm sure IYG supporters are going to accuse the BMV of discriminating against the organization, but that argument won't get them far since the BMV enforced the same rule equally against other organizations, including the revered 4-H Foundation. According to the BMV, 669 IYG specialty license plates had been issued before today's announcement.

No comments: