20 candidates, groups face fines for late campaign-finance reports; Tom Didier tops list at $900
Seven people on the May 7 ballot — including three elected officials — have agreed to pay a total of $375 in fines for filing tardy campaign-finance reports. But that may be only the beginning, with the Allen County Election Board on Friday scheduled to consider fining 13 candidates or groups another $2,125.
And the three largest potential fines target current Fort Wayne City Council members: $900 for Tom Didier, R-3rd; $450 for Michael Barranda, R-at large, and $400 for Glynn Hines, D-6th.
Names on the list include individuals and groups missing the April 22 deadline for pre-primary reports and those that failed to file supplemental reports, which were due no later than 48 hours after the receipt of a contribution of more than $1,000 between April 13 and May 5.
The bipartisan board has traditionally used a formula to assess fines for late filings: $50 per day for current officeholders and $25 per day for candidates. The maximum fine is the amount of cash on hand shown on the last report or $1,000, whichever is less, and the minimum fine is $25 for non-office holders and $50.00 for officeholders, regardless of the amount of cash on hand.
Individuals who have already agreed to pay the fines include: City Clerk Lana Keesling, who was unopposed on the May 7 GOP ballot, $50; Republican New Haven City Councilman David Cheviron, who was renominated, $50; Woodburn Mayor Joe Kelsey, $50; Democratic City Council candidates MaryClare Akers ($75), Michelle Chambers ($50) and Muhammad Hakim ($50), along with Republican 4th District Council candidate Rachel Lott ($50). Of the council candidates facing a fine, only Chambers prevailed May 7.
In addition to Barranda, Didier and Hines, all of whom were nominated May 7, other individuals facing possible fines include Fort Wayne City Councilman Paul Ensley, R-1st, who was unopposed, $50; Republican Eric Tippmann, who ran unsuccessfully for an at-large council seat, $50; Gina Burgess, Democratic candidate for mayor, $25; Tom Cook, Democratic 6th District candidate, $25; David Roach, Republican mayoral candidate, $25; Tommy Schrader, Democratic mayoral candidate, $25; and Jonathan Scott Yoder, who unsuccessfully sought a GOP nomination to the Leo-Cedarville Town Council, $25.
Groups facing fines include the Allen County Young Democrats, $25; Latino Democrats of Allen County, $25; and the Repair FWCS Political Action Committee, created to advocate funding for improvements to Fort Wayne Community Schools, $100.
Long-time incumbent Didier was required to file a supplemental report after receiving $1,000 each from local development group Hanning and Bean and former State Senate President David Long. The report was due April 18 but not filed until May 6. Barranda was late on two supplemental reports for $1,000 contributions from Hanning and Bean and the Fort Wayne firefighters union. Hines was late reporting $2,000 from the same union.
“It was my fault, and an honest mistake. I’d never gotten a $1,000 check that late before and didn’t realize I had to report it within 48 hours,” Didier said. “It’s kind of embarrassing, and I hope they slap my hand and don’t make me pay $900. But you live and learn.”
Director of Elections Beth Dlug said candidates will have an opportunity at Friday’s meeting to present evidence they believe the board should consider when assessing fines. Fines collected go into a campaign finance enforcement account that can be used to pay for any aspect of election administration.
If candidates or groups fail to pay assessed fines, they could face civil or criminal penalties. Even if there is no money in the committee’s account, Dlug said, the board could still assess a minimum fine.