Times ClaimCheck

Candidates appear to violate state law

2011-04-29T12:33:00Z 2011-04-29T21:30:11Z Candidates appear to violate state lawBy Pete Nickeas pete.nickeas@nwi.com, (219) 933-4183 nwitimes.com

Two candidates for Schererville Town Council and one Crown Point council hopeful in Tuesday's primary appear to be violating state law by overseeing two campaign funds, according to a Times review of public records.

State law forbids candidates for office from serving as treasurer of their own campaign if they're also chair of another committee.

Republican Kevin Slaman and Democrat Mike Troxell in Schererville, and Republican James Cuffia in Crown Point, are city party chairmen and treasurers of their own campaign committees.

"I wasn't aware of the rule and if we need to take care of it we'll take care of it as soon as possible," Cuffia said. "We believe in rule of law. That doesn't mean, with complexities and vagaries, that we necessarily know everything."

Troxell wasn't able to be reached for comment.

Slaman said he was surprised by the inquiry and said the Lake County elections board staff told him he could be his own treasurer.

"If it's a mistake, it's by the election board ... When I went down to file paperwork, they said you can be your own treasurer," he said. "If I have to, we'll make a change."

The Times' inquiry was prompted by complaints to the ClaimCheck initiative, through which reporters seek to verify claims made by candidates running for local offices.

A fourth candidate - Hammond GOP Chairwoman and City Councilwoman Kim Poland - was the treasurer of her campaign when she filed campaign reports in January but her most recent report shows a different treasurer.

Kim Krull is chairwoman of the Lake County GOP and dismissed concerns about potential law-breaking from the city chairs that she appoints.

"I think it's a nonissue," she said. "I think it's someone trying to play lawyer."

The Lake County elections board hasn't received any complaints about the dual roles, Democratic board attorney Jim Wieser said.

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