2 resign as NEW video appears to show use of police database Deputy clerk and campaign treasurer appear to use office computer to search records fo
Thursday’s surprise resignation of Deputy City Clerk Angie Davis and an employee serving as her campaign treasurer may have been precipitated by The News-Sentinel’s investigation of a new undercover video that appears to show Davis and others trawling a law enforcement database for information about potential donors to her campaign for city clerk.
Although in-office politicking for Davis was documented in an earlier video recorded by former Parking Enforcement Supervisor Colin Keeney, that video focused on the actions of longtime Clerk Sandy Kennedy, who resigned shortly after The News-Sentinel first reported its contents Oct. 10. Davis takes a much more active political role in Keeney’s latest expose by directing campaign activities in the clerk’s office, suggesting a victory by Republican Lana Keesling could cost them their jobs and, perhaps most significantly, apparently using an office computer and city database for political gain – a possible abuse that the Fort Wayne Police Department will investigate, according to spokesman Michael Joyner.
In his statement Thursday announcing the resignations of Davis and Stahlhut, Mayor Tom Henry said his office had been informed earlier in the day of “inexcusable activities by some employees of the city clerk.” The News-Sentinel had played the video for police officials Thursday morning.
On the video shot, edited and captioned by Keeney, Davis and office employee Patricia Stahlhut appear to be using the Spillman records database to search for information about potential union-affiliated donors. Keeney – an eight-year employee who resigned in a Sept. 8 letter to Henry in which he stated he “could no longer remain silent regarding activities that I know to be unethical, unprofessional, and at times, illegal” – said parking enforcement employees normally use Spillman to verify license plates and identify stolen vehicles before towing.
Its official purpose, in fact, is “to establish and maintain the security and integrity of the central records system of the Allen County and Fort Wayne police departments.” Ryan Moore, president of the board that oversees the Spillman system, said its use can be revoked in cases of misuse.
Contributions from numerous unions are listed on the campaign finance report filed earlier this month by Stahlhut, who also serves as Davis’ treasurer. It is unknown whether any of those contributions are connected to actions captured by Keeney’s secret cameras, which were hidden in a pen, watch and other devices. Davis is also shown working on a letter seeking contributions apparently written by Kennedy on her behalf.
Keeney contributed $122 to Davis’ campaign – something he said was done to “buy time” in the office before his resignation.
City Council President John Crawford, who this week persuaded fellow City Council Republicans to fund the clerk’s office only through March pending possible reforms, said he was troubled by what he saw on the latest video.
“Any use of city office space, equipment or time by city employees for political reasons is inappropriate,” the at-large representative said.
Allen County Democratic Party Chairman John Court had not seen the new video but said in a statement he doesn’t “believe anyone from either party would argue that it is appropriate for an office holder to use their public office or position to engage in political activity. I am equally confident that the public realizes the skill set required of any politically elected official to balance the two dominate responsibilities of the politician and the elected office holder.”
Court’s Republican counterpart, Steve Shine, earlier Thursday repeated his call for Davis to step down even if she defeats Keesling next week and criticized Henry for not investigating possible abuses within the office after being notified of them in Keeney’s letter of resignation.
Crawford has called for the city Ethics Board to investigate the actions recorded by Keeney, since the policy – which exempts the elected clerk – forbids efforts to “coerce or attempt to coerce contributions or service from subordinate employees in support of a political party of candidate for public office … or retaliate against, or reward, any employee for any political action or inaction.” Violations can result in discipline or termination.
Crawford and Shine have also suggested some of the actions in the office have also violated state law, but although officials in the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office have said they would review the case, Keeney said no one from that office has contacted him.
But Prosecutor Karen Richards said they can’t launch a formal investigation until a formal complaint is filed by police or a citizen. That hasn’t happened, she said.
Davis was unavailable for comment, and Mark GiaQuinta, attorney for the clerk’s office, declined to comment.