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Death and deductions

Political donations from the deceased might spur thoughts of a conspiracy, but in the modern technological era it is a bit simpler than that.

Local Republicans this week pointed out to Political Notebook that the Allen County Democrats reported receiving three donations from Richard Ver Wiebe of $30 in November and December. The only problem is Mr. Ver Wiebe passed away in April 2011.

Kevin Knuth, local Democratic spokesman, said the issue was that the deceased signed up for the party’s Democratic Action Fund program, which automatically withdraws money from a person’s bank account. Ver Wiebe’s three payments occurred on the same days as several other party supporters. The auto-debit program was started to ensure the party could pay for its own headquarters, and Knuth noted his wife is part of the program.

Knuth said the party has no authority to stop those payments, which must be done by the new owner of the account.

Andy Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics, said while he doesn’t consider the deposits a campaign violation, he would encourage the party to correct the situation as quickly as possible. If Ver Wiebe’s widow, Carol, would like to continue making the payments, they should probably be listed under her name, he said.

The situation speaks to the holes in decades-old law in a modern world.

“This is another instance when election law hasn’t necessarily kept up with technology and the way we live,” Downs said.

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