Political Notebook

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Another helping of beans

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s keynote address to the Allen County GOP last week wasn’t the only thing of interest that happened at the party’s annual Bean Dinner fundraiser.

Here are a few notable tidbits:

•The party trumpeted the huge attendance of the dinner, with some proclaiming it was more than 600 – a number that was in line with a quick Political Notebook count. But could the crowd have been so big it was illegal? The posted maximum occupancy for the room where the event was held is 570.

•Senate candidate Dan Coats didn’t attend the event, but his wife, Marsha, did. She explained that northeast Indiana voters might not be seeing her husband as much as expected because this section of the state is his home turf. Instead, he has been making friends in southern Indiana, home of his Democratic opponent, Brad Ellsworth, she said.

•Republican candidates weren’t the only ones touting themselves. Several supposedly non-partisan candidates got up to speak at the end of the dinner, including Fort Wayne Community Schools board hopeful Michelle Tribolet and the three people seeking the Allen County Superior Court judgeship.

While opponents Ken Scheibenberger and Wendy Davis touted their skills, Lewis Griffin got the biggest laugh when he limited his speech to, “Basically I’m after Ken Scheibenberger’s job.”

•For the second straight year, Fort Wayne City Councilman Mitch Harper, R-4th, tried to create some buzz with unusual political advertisements. Last year, he posted signs reading, “Fort Wayne Classic 2011, Mitch Harper, Long Distance Run.” This year’s message was simpler. On packages featuring tea and sugar packets was written, “Mitch Harper He’s Effective.” The packets were placed on every plate on every table.

•In the lead-up to the dinner, guests were treated to some video of Huckabee playing the bass guitar at several events. Before the dinner, Huckabee said he was in Nashville to promote his new “I Wanna Play” CD with country star Aaron Tippin. The album is part of an effort to benefit music education for children across America. It goes on sale Saturday at wannaplaycd.org.

Have we met?

Along with an Oscar on his mantel and a worldwide fan base, actor George Clooney has a Hoosier memory from childhood.

When he was 7, he met Richard Lugar, then mayor of Indianapolis, at the Indiana State Fair. Young George had accompanied his dad, Nick, a Cincinnati TV reporter at the time, to the fair.

Flash-forward 40-some years. Clooney and Lugar met again last week. This time it was on Capitol Hill, where the two discussed ways to bring peace and justice to Sudan.

Clooney is an advocate for resolving strife in Sudan; Lugar is the senior Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee.

There wasn’t a hot beef sundae or doughnut burger in sight.

Candidate quits

The Democratic candidate for surveyor in Steuben County announced he will not serve the term if elected. Greg Leupp, the candidate, said “serious and unexpected health problems will prevent him from serving.”

County party chairwoman Judy Rowe said the party would convene a caucus to appoint Leupp’s replacement and applauded Leupp for making his decision public before the election.

She said voters should still vote for Leupp to help oust Republican surveyor Larry Gilbert.

“This election is not about electing a certain individual to the surveyor’s office,” she said. “Its focus is on firing Larry Gilbert, whose incompetence in office requires his removal and that he be denied an additional term.”

Shedding light

The Auburn Common Council’s lone Democrat, Michael Walter, calls himself a watchdog. He has constantly taken a combative stance over four terms on the council, even bringing a bulldog figurine to meetings.

Last month, he proposed amending Auburn’s 2011 salary ordinance to require the posting of actual salaries for each city employee position on the city’s website.

He said the information should be posted because the ordinance states only a range of salaries for most positions, and the mayor and his department heads fix the actual salaries and hourly rates within those ranges.

While no one on the council disputed that the information is public record, some argued that posting it could cause animosity among city employees, Walter said.

“Make them work to get it,” he quotes Councilman Jim Finchum as saying.

So Walter found his own pulpit to preach the gospel of government transparency. Last week, he posted the information on a local community forum, www.kpcnews.net/fence_post.

His post leads with Finchum’s quote, juxtaposed with a line from the Bible’s Gospel of John: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

GOP speaker named

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be the keynote speaker at the Indiana Republican Party’s annual fall dinner at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Westin Indianapolis.

Gov. Mitch Daniels will make introductory remarks.

For questions or ticket information, call 964-5000.

Special prosecutors

Three special prosecutors were named last week to investigate wrongdoing in the political realm.

The first case involves former Bureau of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Andy Miller, who resigned after a recent public indecency arrest in downtown Indianapolis. He is accused of exposing himself to an undercover police officer in a public bathroom.

Monroe County Prosecutor Barry Brown will handle the case.

In a separate case, former Adams County Prosecutor Dan Sigler, a Democrat, was tapped alongside former Warren County Prosecutor John Dowd, a Republican, as special prosecutors in the case of Republican secretary of state candidate Charlie White. He is accused of voter fraud after voting in a precinct in which he no longer lived during the May primary.

If the two prosecutors disagree, Dowd will have the authority to make the decision, and Sigler can object.

Sigler is known for taking high-profile political cases in the past, including bringing campaign finance charges against Fort Wayne GOP mayoral candidate Matt Kelty and then-Fort Wayne Mayor Win Moses, a Democrat.

The Journal Gazette’s Angela Mapes Turner and Washington Editor Sylvia A. Smith contributed to this column.

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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