Porter County board to look at complaint about Biggs’ campaign finance records
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent March 19, 2013 4:52PM
Updated: April 21, 2013 6:40AM
VALPARAISO — Representatives from the Porter County Election Board said Tuesday they would be discussing concerns about campaign finance reports from County Councilman Jim Biggs’ run for North District Commissioner last year.
“Without question, we will be discussing this at our next meeting,” said board chair Patrick Lyp. That meeting has not yet been scheduled.
The concerns, which include missing items, such as a donated website and a fundraising dinner in Portage, were first detailed in the Post-Tribune a few days ago.
Members of the election board, as well as the county prosecutor, the Indiana Attorney General, the U.S. Attorney, and the media, received detailed — though unsigned — packets outlining those items on Monday. The packet also includes a list of Indiana Code violations that may have occurred because of how the forms were filled out.
Biggs, R-1st District, told the Post-Tribune last week that if anything was missing on the reports, he would be more than happy to add those items. He also admitted items may have been omitted from the reports, and mistakes may have been made while he and his treasurer, Gloria Reed, filled them out.
Biggs’ run for commissioner against incumbent John Evans, R-North, during the primary was unsuccessful. He has served as a commissioner and also ran for sheriff.
The county’s Voter Registration Office notified Biggs about the apparent problems with his campaign finance reports.
“Speaking for myself, one of the concerns I have as an election board member is that this is unsigned,” Lyp said. “That said, it certainly was comprehensive in its review.”
The fact that the letter with the packet is unsigned gives the board no context for the complaints, he said. In the past, a complainant was invited to bring forth concerns during a board meeting that included the candidate or elected official.
An unsigned complaint “creates what I think is an unfair situation” for the candidate, Lyp said, adding a complainant should have a willingness to sign their name.
The board gives everybody the chance to address any problems before it holds a formal hearing on a complaint, said board member J.J. Stankiewicz.
“We would expect a written response from (Biggs). We would give him the benefit of the doubt for now, given his experience,” but would expect the concerns to be addressed in a timely fashion, Stankiewicz said.
He, too, said an unsigned complaint might be an issue moving forward, but “this appears to be a big deal. We can’t afford to ignore it.”
Lyp has served on the election board since 2004 and cannot recall the board receiving an unsigned complaint over that time. Regardless, he said the board would review the concerns.
“If we find that there is enough of a basis, we can refer it to the prosecutor’s office,” he said.