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Lake County auditor employee alleges firing was political

Updated: March 22, 2013 10:39AM



A civil trial against Lake County Auditor Peggy Katona started Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Hammond.

Former employee Betty Ruth Nelson sued Katona in 2010, claiming the auditor fired her in May 2008 because Nelson supported then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, and Katona supported his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

According to court filings, Nelson complained when another employee in the auditor’s office was allowed to display a sign in support of Clinton when she wasn’t allowed to show one for Obama. The Clinton sign was eventually taken down.

Katona later saw Nelson wearing pins in support of Obama at a local Democrat event, Nelson claims.

She found out she was fired just after Clinton lost Indiana’s primary race against Obama, and Nelson says in her lawsuit the firing was because of her support for Obama, which violates her First Amendment rights.

Katona has said in her own filings that Nelson was fired following three reprimands, including a three-day suspension without pay seven months before she was fired. The office also received eight complaints against her, two of which came just before she was let go.



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