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Vote board fines 19 for tardy filings

Candidates’ campaign reports missed deadline

The Allen County Election Board on Thursday fined 19 officials or former candidates who missed a January deadline for filing campaign finance reports.

The stiffest fines fell to former Fort Wayne City Councilwoman Karen Goldner, $400, and to county treasurer candidate Scott Williams, $330.

Attempts to notify Goldner and Williams via certified letters had been unsuccessful, Director of Elections Beth Dlug said.

If not paid within 24 hours, Goldner’s fine will climb to $421, the balance of her campaign fund, and Williams’ fine will increase by $25 a day, up to a maximum of $864, his fund balance.

Non-officeholders are fined $25 a day while officeholders are fined $50 a day, Dlug said.

While a candidate can close a campaign finance account as long as there are no surplus funds or outstanding loans, the balance must be zero in order to disband. Otherwise, the committee will remain open and will be required to file at least an annual report by the third Wednesday of each January that the account remains open, Dlug said.

Eight people settled their fines before the meeting: Allen County Councilman Tom Harris, $50; Fort Wayne City Councilman Tim Didier, $100; New Haven City Councilman Craig Dellinger, $50; Fort Wayne Community Schools board candidate Michael Davis, $50; former county councilwoman and mayoral candidate Paula Hughes, $25; Fort Wayne City Council candidate Steven Shafer, $25; and former Fort Wayne city Councilman Tim Pape, $25.

Matt Kelty also settled a $25 fine. Kelty lost a bid for Fort Wayne mayor in 2007 and later pleaded guilty to two felony charges of filing fraudulent campaign reports and one misdemeanor charge of false informing, admitting that he had lied to a grand jury. The charge stemmed from a contribution of $158,000 given to Kelty by Steve and Glenna Jehl and Fred Rost, Kelty’s former campaign chairman.

Kelty cannot close his file until all related debts are paid in full, Dlug said.

“The board can close a committee if the committee has not filed any report during the previous three calendar years and last reported cash on hand that does not exceed $1,000,” Dlug said.

But first it must be determined that candidates are no longer receiving contributions or making expenditures and that the dissolution of their committees would not impair any contract or impede the collection of a debt, she said.

Election board members agreed to fine the “Repair FWCS” political action committee $250, although as a general rule, the election board does not follow such committees, since those involved in statewide activities must file with the state, Dlug said.

Former Fort Wayne Community Schools board member John Peirce said the group’s only campaign business was to back a question on last year’s primary ballot, to which a majority voted in favor of a tax increase to pay for improvements to the school.

“Our activity was all local and we didn’t think to change anything or do after that,” Peirce said.

Those incurring fines of $100 or more included James Ball, a former County Council candidate, $325; Eric Doden, 2011 mayoral candidate, $150; County Council candidate Ken Saylor, $105; Wayne Township trustee candidate Tim Smith; $257.97; and county surveyor candidate Jeffrey Sorg; $200.

Other fines included County Councilman Kevin Howell, $50; City Council candidate Michael Latham, $25; and former Wayne Township Trustee Matt Schomburg, $25.96.

The election board could collect more than $3,000, which is used for the administration of campaign finance enforcement, Dlug said.

vsade@jg.net

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