Political Notebook

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Investigation begins of pro-Davis group

The Allen County Election Board has begun its investigation into the group Friends of Good Government.

On Nov. 18, the board sent a letter to the group’s chairman, Richard Runestad, asking for information about its actions during the past election.

The local political action committee supported Wendy Davis in her successful attempt to unseat Allen Superior Court Judge Kenneth Scheibenberger. The group purchased television ads as part of its effort.

On Oct. 29, Scheibenberger filed a complaint with the election board because the group had not properly registered. The day after the election, the group filed its organizational papers listing Runestad as its chairman and saying it formed on Oct. 28. Runestad was the lead signer of a petition attempting to kick Scheibenberger off the ballot; that petition was tossed by the Indiana Election Commission.

Whenever two or more people gather together for the purpose of raising or spending more than $100 in support of a particular candidate or issue or against a particular candidate or issue, that group is considered a political action committee under Indiana law. The group then has 10 days to file a statement of organization with either the county election board or the Indiana secretary of state’s election division.

Whether the filing meets that 10-day grace period is in question, as the television ads ran in late October. Davis said she didn’t know anything about the group, meaning its expenses fell outside the $10,000 spending limit imposed on judicial candidates. Both Scheibenberger and Davis spent almost to the limit, according to their campaign finance reports.

The election board letter asks the group to provide dates clarifying when it received contributions and expended funds, and whether it coordinated with the Davis campaign. The board wrote that while it can subpoena such information, the hope is that the group would cooperate willingly.

The letter gave Runestad 10 business days to respond.

Mayoral crowd

The Republican field for mayor could grow even more crowded this week as several politicos believe Councilwoman Liz Brown, R-at large, will formally announce her bid.

Brown has long been rumored to be seeking the position but would only say, “I am very close to making a formal decision.”

If she runs, Brown would join County Council President Paula Hughes, R-2nd.

Businessman Eric Doden has also started an exploratory committee; he has said he is likely going to run.

Mayor Tom Henry, a Democrat, has not yet announced whether he will seek re-election, but he has been raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for his campaign war chest.

GiaQuinta lauded

Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, earned awards this month from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association for his work at the Statehouse on behalf of Hoosiers in his central Allen County district and across the state.

The Indiana Chamber selected GiaQuinta as one of several 2010 Small Business Champions for his work advocating policies that support small-business growth and job creation. And the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association named the Fort Wayne native 2010 Legislator of the Year at its annual awards dinner.

“I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Indiana Trial Lawyers Association for their recognition this month. My work at the Statehouse is dedicated to making northeast Indiana and the entire state a great place to live, work, raise a family and grow a business,” GiaQuinta said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I will continue to advocate for policies that favor job growth and make me proud to call Indiana home.”

GiaQuinta has served the Indiana General Assembly’s 80th House District since his election in 2006. His legislative accomplishments include the creation of the Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board and simplifying the process of filing homestead exemptions.

Daniels’ zingers

Gov. Mitch Daniels let some zingers fly during a speech last week to the Indianapolis Rotary Club.

He started with a cartoon illustration of a doctor speaking to his patient: “Sometimes it helps to turn a question around. Why not you?” He then compared the patient to the governor of Illinois, Ohio or Michigan – all neighboring states that have worse financial woes than Indiana.

And then there is the ever-present speculation that he might run for president, which came up in the final moments of a long introduction.

“You were doing so well until the very end there,” Daniels said.

Later a person asked where at the national level the governor’s insights and talents might be put to use.

“I know it’s sort of impolite to do this, but I keep observing that the commissioner of baseball has to retire sometime,” Daniels said.

They swear

Allen County winners of this fall’s election will be officially sworn into office next month. The county has scheduled the inauguration ceremony to be conducted at noon Dec. 30 in the rotunda of the Allen County Courthouse. The ceremony is open to the public.

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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