During Thursday's meeting of the Clay County Election Board, information was provided about the placement of political advertising by the Fraternal Order of Police (F.O.P.) Lodge 114, which may have been in violation of Indiana Election Law.
Clay County Deputy Clerk Beth Mallinak informed the board she had received phone calls from concerned citizens and WTHI-TV in the past week regarding whether or not the F.O.P., had officially opened a Political Action Committee.
The advertisement in question, which ran in the April 11 edition of The Brazil Times, proclaimed the F.O.P. was endorsing Brian Wyndam for the position of Mayor of Brazil.
Reading from a formal complaint filed by Samuel Conner, Mallinak said under Indiana Law, not-for-profit agencies are not permitted to endorse candidates or expend more than $100 during a calendar year without forming a Political Action Committee (PAC).
Mallinak added not-for-profit organizations have 10 days after surpassing the $100 expenditure amount to file for the formation of the PAC, and provided information that the half-page advertisement (which cost $300) was paid for April 7, while the PAC was not officially declared until April 27.
Board Chairman Rick Alumbaugh said with the information provided, the board was "going to have to dig a little deeper, check what the Indiana Code specifically states and double-check the dates."
Board Secretary Vickie Wheeler made a motion to begin an in-depth investigation into the matter, which John Turner seconded and the board approved 3-0. Turner sat on the board as the appointed proxy Republican board member as Dave Mallinak cited a conflict of interest as he has had dealings with the F.O.P. in the past.
Alumbaugh and Wheeler told The Brazil Times potential penalties include fines and the possible filing of criminal charges up to an A misdemeanor, depending on the severity of the violations. Should a fine need to be levied, all interested parties must be notified through certified letters.
The board recessed the meeting and agreed to reconvene at 5 p.m., Monday, May 23, in the Commissioners' Courtroom at the Clay County Courthouse to reveal the findings of the investigation as well as the final determination in the matter. During this meeting, the floor will also be opened for public comments to be made.