Panel votes against fine for Lake County GOP
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent July 15, 2014 8:08PM
Updated: July 16, 2014 2:03AM
CROWN POINT — Former Lake County Republican Party Chairwoman Kim Krull is off the hook for fines associated with the late filing of a campaign finance report, but unless the Board of Elections takes further action she will wind up before them again.
The Lake County Board of Elections dismissed the fine against Krull and the Lake County Republican Central Committee at its meeting Tuesday for failure to file a campaign finance report showing $5,000 in remaining revenues and a reported 2007 debt of $20,000 to the estate of the late John Curley, a former Republican Party chairman.
Board member Michael Mellon, a Munster Republican, said the matter as it appears before the board is whether the fine will be enforced, not who is ultimately responsible for the finances.
“Maybe it will appear before this body again at some point. Today we are making a decision on the fine,” Mellon said. He made the motion to dismiss the fine. The motion was unanimously approved.
Who is responsible to continue filing reports has been in question after the new party leadership, headed by Dan Dernulc, created a new party committee in August with the support of state party leadership and said the debt remains with Krull and the past administration.
“To me, it appears to be a party issue,” said Kevin Smith, the board chairman and a Democrat.
Until a determination is made who is responsible for recording the amounts, Krull and the former party committee will continue to be brought before the Board of Elections. Michelle Fajman, board of elections director, said reporting violations are generated automatically for every candidate or political action committee that does not file a report by the deadline.
Because the new party leadership has formed a different committee and refuses to take on the finances of the past leadership, that money still needs to be accounted for. Jeffrey Gunning, Krull’s attorney, said that is where the problem lies.
“The outgoing officials followed the statutory procedure and filed the outgoing (treasurer’s) report,” Gunning said after the meeting. He said the debt that remains with the party was taken on two years before Krull became party chairwoman.
Allowing the new administration to saddle Krull and the past administration with the debt would set a dangerous precedent that could discourage future volunteers from participating in the two-party system, Gunning said.
He asked the election board to reinstate the complaint so the matter can be finalized and Krull and the past administration can move on. Until this is resolved, Krull remains in a holding pattern.
“I have to wait and see who will take responsibility. If they don’t, I’ll be back before the board,” she said.