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Election board giving delinquent committees one more chance

Updated: March 25, 2013 6:42AM



CROWN POINT — Lake County election board officials are giving one more chance to political action and campaign fundraising committees that have fines and missing campaign finance reports before taking offenders to small claims court.

Michelle Fajman, director of the Lake County Board of Elections and Voters Registration, said the time has come to reconcile records and clear up the fines which in some cases have been on the books for more than a decade. The main issue though is compliance.

“Our ultimate goal is to make sure reports get in on time,” Fajman said.

Both PACs and committees to elect candidates must report from where they receive contributions and the amount. Those reports must be filed annually and once filed are available for public inspection. When reports are filed late, the committee is fined. Fines continue to accrue as long as the reports are not filed.

Close to $25,000 in outstanding fines are owned by 66 different entities.

Some of the offenders are committees that have already disbanded. Board officials moved to reduce the fines of inactive committees that have been on the books the longest to $100 and give them 60 days to pay before they file suit.

The highest of those fines, $2,710, dates back to 2004 and is owed by the East Chicago Democrats PAC. The most recent of those fines is from 2010 and $150 owed by the Committee to Elect Lester Chandler Jr.

Active committees on the list such as the Schererville Democratic Precinct Organization, which owes $880; the Committee to Elect Carolyn Rogers, which owes $1,050; and Miller Disannexation Committee and Gary Democratic Precinct Organization, both of which owe $525, have 60 days to come up with the full amount or present a case why those amounts should be reduced.

Joe Allegretti, proxy for board president Kevin Smith, said those committees are invited to write a letter explaining mitigating circumstances for late filings. Any committee seeking a reduction must have all its campaign finance reports up to date.



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