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Opening Arguments


The Allen County Election Board has decreed by a 2-1 vote that Republican mayoral candidate Matt Kelty violated no campaign finance laws by initially failing to report that a personal loan he made to his campaign was, in fact, originally a loan from one of his campaign workers to him. And the vote -- sit down for this one -- was along party lines, with the two Republicans voting to clear Kelty and the Democrat saying there were enough questions to forward the whole thing to the prosecutor's office.

This turn of events has prompted a calm, reasoned debate in the Indiana blogosphere.

From Advance Indiana, an Indianapolis site run by a Democrat:

Making a complete mockery of Indiana's campaign finance laws, the Allen Co. Election Board spit on, tore up and set afire a law intended to compel candidates for public office to disclose the source of their campaign contributions.

[. . .]

This is a very sad day for the Allen Co. Republicans. Today's decision forfeits any right they have to reclaim the mayor's office in Fort Wayne. If this is the kind of corrupt leadership they have to offer for the people of Fort Wayne, then they don't deserve to run the city for the next four years.

From Angry White Boy, a Fort Wayne site run by a Republican:

To put it in a nutshell Andy Downs was belittled, trashed, ridiculed and put in his place like a monkey on a string. He's a disgrace to the Allen County Democrats and should be replaced as their appointed representative on the election board.

Well. Reminds me of one of my favorite political jokes (and forgive me if I've told it here before).There is a small town that has 64 Christian voters and 32 Jewish voters, and, because the electorate is very civic-minded, everybody always votes. There is an election for mayor, and the Christian candidate gets 64 votes, and the Jewish candidate gets 32 votes. Two of the Christians meet at a bar to discuss the outcome. "Those Jews," one says to the other, "sure stick together, don't they?"

I take it, perhaps naively, that the members of the election board are honorable people who try to look at issues honestly, consider the facts reasonably and come to a conclusion that is fair. But they are, above all, partisans, and that colors their thinking. Unless there is something beyond-the-pale outrageous, the Republicans are going to side with the Republican. Unless it is something obviously frivolous, the Democrat is going to doubt the Republican. The issues in this case are not obvious, and reasonable people may disagree and still sleep at night.

But when partisanship takes root in the blogs, there is no forgiveness, no looking back, no backing down, no apologies. There are no opponents, only enemies. Welcome to the modern election.


Gary Welsh
Tue, 06/19/2007 - 7:39pm

Actually, I am a life-long Republican in the Lincoln tradition. I believe in limited government and the separation of church and state. I'm not a blind partisan afraid to criticize a member of my own party when he does something I believe to be wrong.

Leo Morris
Wed, 06/20/2007 - 4:21am

My mistake. I probably would have made by point better by using Taking Down Words ( http://www.takingdownwords.com/taking_down_words/2007/06/one_way_or_anot.html ) as an example.

Pete Christensen
Wed, 06/20/2007 - 4:46am

I'm puzzled as to how the issues in this case are not obvious. The argument that Kelty received the money as a personal loan, which he is personally bound to repay, is an understandable rationalization. But it does not transcend the definition in IC 3-5-2-15 of contribution as (a) a donation, characterized as a loan, (1) made for the purpose of influencing (A) the nomination or election to office of a candidate; (2) accepted by (A) a candidate.

I thought maybe if Kelty accepted the loan before he was a candidate, then his babble about how he was free to use the money for any purpose and he just happened to decide to use it for his campaign, etc., maybe that would stick on the wall as a sort of honorable negotiation with the law. But IC 3-5-2-6(3) clarifies that he was a candidate when he received the loan. The issue of the 2-1 partisan vote by the election board is, as you've noted, very obvious.

Wed, 06/20/2007 - 6:38am

Doesn't phase me one bit...I can show animosity as well laud praise on either party....oh wait, I meant the PERSON with the peoples' interest in mind...

Partisanship belongs in the sideshow, alongside the rest of the oddities.

It's the issues that count as well as the person....and whatever party is doing whatever to whomever (usually out of context) just turns me right the hell off.

Welcome to the free mind!

((btw...can't fault Kelty for what he did...seems OK by me, and if Henry did likewise, I'd be OK with that too)