Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Campaign Finance Reports Against Mayors In Lake County Should Raise Eyebrows

There's been a lot in the media about U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock's misspending of campaign and taxpayer dollars, which resulted in his abrupt resignation yesterday after an ethics investigation was opened by the Office of Congressional Ethics. Seeing this story in today's Northwest Indiana Times about complaints filed with the Lake Co. Board of Elections against several mayors, it looks like someone should be doing a little investigating of these folks as well.

According to Bill Dolan's story, one complaint against Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson questions why her campaign has reimbursed her $201,931 between 2006 and 2014 for gas, food, lodging and other unitemized expenses. A complaint against Freeman-Wilson also claims her campaign finance report is riddled with errors, including the listing of donations from the Gary School Corp. and the NAACP, both of which are barred from making campaign contributions. Freeman-Wilson says what was intended to be reported was that another individual contributed $2,000 so members of district's school board could attend one of her fundraisers. Gotcha.

Another complaint questions $353,700 in consulting fees Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott has paid to his wife's consulting firm, Kelly Consulting, between 2006 and 2014. McDermott's campaign also spent nearly $14,000 renting RVs during the same period and paid $1,000 for Spanish lessons.

Ken Davidson, a blogger with Northwest Indiana Gazette, has filed a complaint about Lake Station Mayor Keith Soderquist for tapping his campaign account to pay $8,500 to his criminal defense attorney, former Gary Mayor Scott King, to defend him in a pending public corruption case federal prosecutors have brought against him and his wife.

The election board voted to have their attorneys investigate the complaints and report back to it by April 6 according to Dolan's report.

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