PORTAGE — Mayor James Snyder raised and spent just over $102,000 last year, according to his campaign finance report filed this week.
Of that, $41,000 went to two attorneys, Thomas Kirsch II, of Chicago, and Jackie Bennett, of Indianapolis, who have been defending him in his federal public corruption case. Kirsch gave up his private practice when he was nominated to become U.S. attorney for northern Indiana.
"I and my city team are very grateful to the people and business who give to my campaign," Snyder said in a written statement. "The federal government is not infallible, but they do have unlimited resources and the media. My campaign funds being spent to protect me and my family pale in comparison to the tax dollars that are being spent to slander someone who has done nothing unlawful or wrong."
Another $15,000 went to his wife for office work.
Snyder said 20 percent of the funds raised through his campaign committee were spent on city functions such as the Christmas parade, Hannah's Playground, other events and "even taking City Council members to dinner."
He also repaid $2,000 of his $10,000 debt to John Cortina, his co-defendant in the federal case. The loan was detailed in Snyder's 2016 finance report.
Snyder's campaign treasurer, Kenard Taylor of Valparaiso, said Cortina routinely contributed $2,000 to Snyder each year to be a part of the mayor's roundtable. However, in 2017, Cortina forgave $2,000 of the $10,000 loan he gave Snyder in 2016 to retain his membership.
The mayor's roundtable, Taylor said, is a group of individuals and businesses who donate $2,000 annually to Snyder's campaign committee in exchange for attending four exclusive events in which they hear a report from Snyder and have a chance to give him input on the city's future.
Brian Howey, publisher of Howey Politics Indiana, said Snyder's financial report seemed a bit unusual.
"There are two levels of scrutiny. One is the donors, if they want their money used to pay his wife or attorneys; the other is the voters, the taxpayers," he said. "If it is legal, I guess it is up to the voters to determine if it is unseemly."
Snyder's committee received donations of $2,000 or more from 26 donors in 2017.
Snyder also received multiple donations from some business owners. John and Paul Marshall, of Crown Point, are principals in both Marshall II Enterprises and Midnight Blue Towing, according to the Indiana secretary of state's website. Together the companies donated a total of $3,000 to Snyder's committee. Similarly, Thomas Collins, of Hobart, is the principal in both Apple Core LLC and Luke Land LLC of Hobart. Donations of $2,000 from each company, or $4,000 in total, were received from Collins through his companies.
Taylor said contribution limitations are only on unions and corporations, adding LLCs have no donation limits.