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Opening Arguments

Nine counts

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.


Tue, 08/14/2007 - 5:30pm

Leo said: "Police escorted Kelty in handcuffs by the TV cameras. My immediate, visceral reaction was that this was over the top

John Good
Tue, 08/14/2007 - 8:10pm

I read a partial copy of your post on another local blog. Only numbers 1-3 were listed. I'm glad I clicked over and read your full report; I would have missed the full scope of your thoughts, which I generally agree with.

A J Bogle
Wed, 08/15/2007 - 5:32am

Kelties woes are largely of his own doing, so these wild eyed conspiracy theories only make his supporters look bad.

What is the democratic motivation here? politics 101 says if your opponent is self destructing, step back and let it happen and don't get involved because it could blow up in your face. Tom Henry is an honorable guy and I could just not see him condoning anything like this. I don't think even the great Turd Blossom Rove could have dreamed up such a conspiracy as well.

Sat, 08/18/2007 - 3:05pm

Good comments from everyone here. John, I too only saw a portion of Leo's comments and another site. Although, I am not surprised.

Mon, 08/20/2007 - 1:42am

I do not believe that Matt is any more, if as, quilty of wrong doings that any others! Who is backing Henry, who was giving to Peters? If our mayoral elections look blemished what about our congress and our presidential elections john brown

A J Bogle
Mon, 08/20/2007 - 7:20am

letstalk, the whole reason for the campaign finance disclosure laws is so voters can make informed decisions, and to help prevent money from becoming an undue influence on elections - how well that's working is certainly debateable. There has been no question of Henry's or Peter's finances because they followed the letter and spirit of the laws, whereas there is certainly plenty to usggest Mr Kelty while possibly following the letter, may have violated the spirit of the law. I would chalk this largely up to a matter of experience - Henry and Peters are both experienced polls and understood how the system works, Mr Kelty thru his inexperience apparantly did not understand. Experience and understanding of the laws are very valid issues on which to base a voting decision.