I'll be writing an editorial for tomorrow's paper on the nine-count indictment of Republican mayoral candidate Matt Kelty. But a few preliminary thoughts:
1. Don't gloat, Democrats. These are charges, not convictions. Kelty deserves his presumption of innocence. This is not just about politics now. Kelty faces serious consequences if found guilty. But a rush to judgment would be unfair not only to him but also the political process and voters as we head into the November election.
2. Keep the conspiracy theories to a dull roar, Kelty supporters. On the way home, I heard on the radio that this was the result of: Democrats conspiring to get Tom Henry elected, good-old-boy Republicans conspiring to squish an upstart conservative, Common Cause (which filed the complaint with the prosecutor's office) conspiring with the federal government to do I don't know what, and the forces of evil conspiring to undo a God-fearing Christian.
3. Police escorted Kelty in handcuffs by the TV cameras. My immediate, visceral reaction was that this was over the top -- it could have been handled more discreetly. That video is going to be played over and over in the coming weeks, and that will have more of an impact on the election than it should have.
4. Nine counts, seven of them felonies -- that is stunning. I don't think anybody, including Kelty's strongest opponents, saw that coming.
5. Campaign-finance reporting should be taken very seriously. It's how we know who is getting money from whom, an indication of where the influence is. If there had been no indictment at all, that would have said that Indiana's reporting laws are worthless, with such a big loophole that candidates could just get all their money from loans and not have to report anything. I've never heard Kelty give a satisfying justification for reporting the loans he got from others as personal loans from him to his campaign. Fine if he thought, and was given legal advice to the effect that, such an omission is allowed under the law. But why not tell us, especially since all the people were involved in his campaign and financial help from them wouldn't exactly be a big shock?
6. Am I wrong that, no matter what happens with the criminal case, there is not going to be a Mayor Matt Kelty in our future? Even if the trial is rushed through and he is found innocent well before the election, which seem unlikely, this alters the dynamics of the election in Henrry's favor. Kelty wasn't going to get any Democratic votes in any case, and it now seems unlikely he would get very many votes from those "moderate" Republicans who backed Nelson Peters in the primary.