CROWN POINT | A Republican activist wants Lake County election officials to look into Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr.'s payments of campaign funds to his wife and friends.
Eric Krieg, of Munster, has filed a complaint with the Lake County elections board, questioning whether the mayor is complying with state law in terms of disclosing enough information about more than $300,000 in payments to the mayor's wife, Marissa McDermott, as a campaign consultant.
McDermott said those payments are legal and claimed Krieg is only attacking his family in retaliation for a defamation suit Aaron M. McDermott, the mayor's brother, recently filed against Krieg.
Krieg, who has run for county offices in recent years and has posted political blogs under the name Buzzcut, is taking aim at one of the more successful fundraisers in Lake County politics.
McDermott has regularly raised and distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars during his successful campaigns for mayor.
Campaign finance laws require McDermott to regularly disclose all donation and expenditures. McDermott said he pays his wife to account for that money and generate reports that run more than 150 pages.
Krieg contends McDermott's campaign isn't following a 2001 Indiana Election Commission Advisory Opinion requiring candidates paying family members to file a written contract, explaining what services are being paid, with the election board.
McDermott said there is nothing requiring him or other candidates to file campaign service contracts with the elections board.
Brad King, co-director of the bipartisan Indiana Election Division, said this week the advisory opinion Krieg cites wasn't mandatory but rather a guide to candidates in the event a law requiring such a disclosure was passed. King said no such law was passed.
McDermott said Krieg is motivated by revenge because Aaron McDermott's recent defamation lawsuit alleging Krieg made false claims in a Sept. 18 blog about the mayor's brother being arrested.
Schererville attorney David Westland, who represents Aaron McDermott, said there is no police record of his client being arrested by Munster police.
Michelle Fajman, county elections director, said the elections board will take up Krieg's complaint at its Dec. 17 meeting to decide whether it should be investigated.
Krieg also is demanding that Democratic members of the elections board appointed by McDermott not be allowed to sit in judgment of his complaint.