Political Notebook

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GOP’s turn in secretary of state fight

After days of negative press for GOP secretary of state hopeful Charlie White, the Indiana Republican Party last week shot back with a blast at the Democratic opponent for alleged campaign finance irregularities.

White has been in the news for serving in his Fishers Town Council seat for months after moving out of the district and then voting at his old precinct in the May primary – something Democrats contend is voter fraud, a felony.

So the GOP decided Thursday to go after Democratic secretary of state candidate Vop Osili for errors in his campaign finance filings.

“He is responsible for the accuracy of this information,” GOP spokesman Trevor Foughty said. “Given the volume of irregularities, he has established a repeated pattern of ignoring transparency and full disclosure.”

Some of the “irregularities” Republicans point out include in-kind contributions with no explicit indication of where, or to whom, the money was paid; anonymous contributions of more than $100; lack of an amended statement of organization changing his committee from exploratory to candidate; and lack of required personal information on some contributors, such as occupation.

“I know of no errors,” Osili said, adding that if mistakes are found, he will correct them.

Amended campaign finance reports are common in the political arena.

Osili said the GOP’s accusations were meant to be a distraction from a criminal probe of its own candidate.

And White’s own records had at least one similar problem.

For instance, only minutes after the Republicans issued the accusations against Osili, Political Notebook found that White’s records noted a recent in-kind contribution from the Indiana Republican Party to White’s campaign for $27,800 but did not document what the money was used for.

Asked about it, Foughty said that money went toward a television commercial. By Friday, the filing had been amended to include the phrase “media production.”

Outside assistance

Allen County Council President Paula Hughes made the odd choice of announcing her candidacy for mayor of Fort Wayne at her family business, which is in New Haven.

Hughes noted that when saying the two communities are interdependent. Other reports said there simply wasn’t enough room for the event at the company’s Fort Wayne location.

But support from outside the city she wants to lead extended well beyond the announcement. In fact, the Republican hopeful’s three most prominent supporters – all mentioned during her speech – live outside Fort Wayne.

Sheriff Ken Fries, County Councilman Darren Vogt and former county councilman Cal Miller, her campaign treasurer, don’t call the Summit City home.

While the three may have some clout among all voters, they won’t be able to vote for Hughes.

Boehm bids farewell

Justice Theodore Boehm took a moment during his retirement ceremony Thursday after 14 years on the Indiana Supreme Court to criticize government inaction.

“Too often, preservation of individual privilege or defense of party power is elevated over the greater public good in the actions and sometimes even in the stated positions of officials or office seekers,” he said.

For example, he noted the lack of action on local government restructuring, saying, “We cling to duplicative and grossly inefficient ways to accomplish the work of government.”

Then he harpooned the Marion County judicial selection system before taking on the General Assembly’s gerrymandered legislative districts.

“If the vast majority of districts are dominated by one party or the other, the primary election, not the general election, becomes the decision point in selection of most legislators,” Boehm said.

“And the selection is inevitably reflective of the center of gravity of the dominant party, not the population as a whole. The result is a polarized legislature composed of very few mediators, compromisers or centrists,” he said.

Boehm ended his speech by revealing what he wears under his robe – an Indiana Pacers or Indianapolis Colts jersey.

Skillman headliner

Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman is headlining a fundraiser this week for Mike Obergfell, the GOP candidate in the 81st House District.

The event is Thursday from 4:30 to 6 p.m., with Skillman expected to speak about 4:50 p.m. The location is The Loft at River City Harley-Davidson, 5525 Indiana 930 E. in Fort Wayne.

The hosts for the fundraiser include Fort Wayne City Councilwoman Liz Brown; Rep. Bob Morris, R-Fort Wayne; and River City Harley-Davidson owner Don Ehlerding.

Obergfell is running against incumbent Rep. Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne.

Meet the candidates

The four Fort Wayne neighborhood partnerships, along with the Northside Neighborhood Association, will give voters a chance to meet several local candidates this month.

The groups are sponsoring a forum from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 11 at North Side High School.

The first half-hour will be an open house in which guests can meet candidates, followed by a forum for the candidates to address the crowd.

Candidates in uncontested races will be given one minute to speak, while contested candidates will have two minutes for an introduction and answer a question.

The event is typically one of the largest and best-attended candidate forums in Fort Wayne.

To reach Political Notebook by e-mail, contact Benjamin Lanka at blanka@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. To discuss this entry of Political Notebook or others, go to the Political Notebook topic of "The Board" at www.journalgazette.net.

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