Lake County elections board rejects complaints against Lake Central School Corp.

2012-06-05T12:00:00Z 2012-06-06T14:40:10Z Lake County elections board rejects complaints against Lake Central School Corp.By Marisa Kwiatkowski, (219) 662-5333

CROWN POINT | County elections officials unanimously voted Tuesday to reject complaints that the Lake Central School Corp. violated election law.

St. John resident Joe Hero and St. John Township resident Richard Hucker filed complaints in November and February with the Lake County elections board, claiming Lake Central School Corp. used school property and equipment to promote its referendum then did not publicly disclose it. Voters approved the $160 million referendum in November.

Hero and Hucker argue Friends of Lake Central Schools failed to report those items as in-kind contributions on its campaign finance reports.

Attorney Michael Sears, who represented the Lake Central School Corp., filed a motion to dismiss the complaints. He argued Tuesday that campaign finance law does not govern school corporations and that the men provided no evidence to support their allegations.

The Lake County Board of Elections and Registration denied Hero's and Hucker's complaints against the school corporation. Board member Gregory Sanchez said he made the motion because Indiana law is too vague and does not address school corporations.

Hero's and Hucker's first complaints claimed Lake Central School Corp. illegally used public resources and funds to promote the referendum. The elections board rejected those complaints in February for a lack of jurisdiction over the state law that requires school corporations to provide equal access to facilities or equipment when promoting a position on a local referendum.

Hero and Hucker filed second complaints claiming that Lake Central School Corp. violated state campaign laws by not disclosing that funds it provided.

Hero argued Tuesday that the school corporation violated campaign finance law because the pro-referendum political action committee, Friends of Lake Central Schools, used a school address and did not report resources provided by the school.

"(The district) gave money and resources, and it's not declared on nobody's campaign finance report," Hero said.

The elections board ignored Hero's request to forward documentation to the Lake County prosecutor's office for consideration of criminal charges.

County elections officials said they will consider Hero's complaint against the Friends of Lake Central Schools at its next meeting June 19.

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