The Lake County elections board voted this week to reduce or eliminate fines totaling more than $24,500 that the county has levied since the late 1990s against politicians for failing to disclose their campaign finances.
Board members will forgive the fines against three deceased men who ran for public office more than eight years ago and 18 others whose campaigns have been inactive for years. The county will disband these organizations.
The board chose to reduce longstanding fines against 46 others, including $2,710 against the East Chicago Democrats Political Action Committee alone and a $500 fine against something called, "Coalition Against Corruption.
Elections Director Michelle Fajman said previous elections officials had imposed high fines to get tough with politicians who ignored deadlines for publicly reporting their campaign donations and spending, but the politicians simply ignored them and the county failed to enforce them.
The board voted to reduce the fines to as little as $50, but threatened to sue any politician who fails to pay the reduced fine within 60 days.