The Starke County Election Board members heard appeals from three candidates concerning fines assessed from delinquent candidate financial reports prior to the November General Election.
Republican Karl Swihart testified that he was a first-time candidate in this year’s May Primary Election. He did not win his party’s vote in the County Council District 1 race and was unaware that he needed to disband his committee and file a candidate financial report prior to the November General Election. As a result, he was notified by the clerk’s office that the paperwork was required to be turned in and he submitted all of his paperwork five days after the Oct. 19 deadline.
The Starke County Election Board follows the Indiana Code pertaining to the fines related to this violation. It is a fine of $50 per day the paperwork is late. In this case, Swihart was assessed a $150 fine.
Clerk Vicki Cooley made a motion to reduce the fee to $50 since Swihart was a first-time candidate and the motion was seconded and gathered a unanimous vote by the board members. Swihart paid his fine at the conclusion of his hearing.
Democrat Dannie Hoffer, Jr. was not present for his hearing, but sent a letter explaining that he was in a car accident in September and suffered some health issues as a result of that accident and forgot to get the paperwork in on time. He said he did get a phone call from the clerk’s office to remind him to turn in his paperwork. Additionally, he has not been cleared to resume his duties as coroner so the chief deputy coroner and Marshall County Coroner John Grolich have been handling cases.
It was also noted that this was the second time Hoffer was tardy in filing his candidate financial report. He did not submit similar paperwork on time prior to the May Primary Election.
A motion was made to send him a letter and give him until Dec. 10 at noon to pay his $150 fine. If his fine is not paid in that time frame, other action will be taken. The board unanimously approved the motion.
Republican Dave Pearman was absent from the hearing to appeal his $50 fine as he was out of state. He did submit a letter saying that he was in the courthouse well before the noon deadline, but allowed others to go in front of him to conduct business in the clerk’s office and was not waited on in a timely fashion which made him late in filing the paperwork. He claims the time stamp on his paperwork was nine minutes after noon, but Clerk Vicki Cooley told the election board members that according to the time stamp on the security cameras in the office, Pearman entered the clerk’s office 13 minutes after noon and waited one minute to be helped by a member of clerk’s office.
A motion was made to send Pearman a letter and give him until Dec. 10 at noon to pay his $50 fine. If his fine is not paid in that time frame, other action will be taken. The election board unanimously approved the motion.