Federal and state campaign finance and ethics enforcement agencies fine campaigns and political committees all the time. But what if they need to collect from a reluctant respondent? In Indiana, a mayoral candidate may learn how the Indiana Election Division plans to proceed:
According to an e-mail from Leslie Barnes, co-counsel with the Indiana Election Division, an election board can take steps to collect fines. First the board must send an official order giving candidates 30 days to pay the fine. If the candidate doesn’t pay or appeal the fine within that time, the board can petition a court asking to garnishee wages or take other steps to collect. Allen County Clerk Therese Brown, who also sits on the board, said this would involve taking the candidates to the Small Claims Division of Allen Superior Court. The two others with unpaid fines are Byron Peters, a Libertarian candidate for the Fort Wayne City Council, and New Haven Council candidate Republican Johnathan Prince.
Pam Finlayson, county elections director, said the board has considered using the courts before but has never done so. She said she would get an opinion from County Attorney Bill Fishering about what it would take to enforce payment of the fine.
Andy Downs, Democratic member of the board, said the staff would be sending a 30-day notice to the candidates but would hold another meeting to determine what to do if the fines aren’t paid.