The board initially met to gather information in the matter April 28, which was spurned by allegations of violations occurring in an advertisement placed in The Brazil Times by the Fraternal Order of Police (F.O.P.) Lodge 114 on April 11, endorsing Brian Wyndham for Brazil Mayor. The petition with the allegations was filed by Samuel T. Conner.
The alleged violations included that the advertisement did not include a proper "disclaimer" as described by Indiana Code 3-9-3-2.5.
The F.O.P -- which is a not-for-profit entity -- had spent more than $100 in advertising and it had not filed to open a Political Action Committee (PAC), which is required once the $100 threshold is surpassed.
"We found during the meeting that there was enough information provided to conduct an investigation in the matter," Election Board Secretary Vickie Wheeler told The Brazil Times.
On Monday, the board declared the F.O.P. was in violation of not opening its PAC within 10 days of exceeding the $100 in advertising, in accordance to I.C. 3-9-1-3.
The violation allowed the board to assess a civil penalty of up to $50 for each day the report was late. The statement declaring the organization of the PAC was officially filed April 27.
Wheeler told The Brazil Times the calculation of the 10-day period begins on the day the ad was paid for, which was April 7, not the day the ad appears in a publication.
"We decided to fine the F.O.P. $85 for their violation, which included $25 for the first day and $10 for each day after," she said. "Back in 2008, the Election Board passed a resolution setting a fee schedule for our county."
Clay County Deputy Election Clerk Beth Mallinak said the days counted only include those in which the Clay County Courthouse is open for business, which included April 18-21, and April 25-27. Friday, April 22 was not included in the calculation as the courthouse was closed in observance of Good Friday.
"It was pretty cut and dry," Wheeler said regarding the findings. "All the information was recorded in some way through the paperwork."
On May 7, the F.O.P. placed a second advertisement in The Brazil Times correcting errors, stating the initial ad should included the statement, "Paid for by the Fraternal Order of Police #114 PAC, and not authorized by any candidate or candidates' committee."
Wheeler said F.O.P. Treasurer/Secretary Dave Archer was allowed to speak during Monday's meeting.
"Mr. Archer explained he had checked into the Federal regulations, which allow up to $1,000 in advertising before a PAC has to be organized," she said. "However, Indiana law requires the PAC to be formed after more than $100 is expended."
With the original ad not including the disclaimer, the board had the option of referring the matter to the Prosecutor's Office, which could have resulted in a potential filing of a class A misdemeanor.
"With the F.O.P. running the ad with the correction, there was no need for us to refer the issue to the Prosecutor," Wheeler said. "However, an individual could still request the charge be filed, but it would be at the Prosecutor's discretion on whether or not it would be pursued."
Wheeler is joined on the Election Board by Chairman Rick Alumbaugh and member Dave Mallinak. However, in this matter, John Turner served as the proxy Republican member in place of Mallinak, who has had prior associations with the F.O.P.