MARK KIESLING: Surveyor subpoenas may aid Republican challenger

2012-08-08T00:00:00Z MARK KIESLING: Surveyor subpoenas may aid Republican challenger nwitimes.com
August 08, 2012 12:00 am

Tuesday was just not working out for Lake County Surveyor George Van Til.

His Republican opponent in the fall election put out a news release the day before basically blaming Van Til for discovery of mosquitoes infected with the West Nile virus in a ditch near Griffith.

Eric Krieg said Van Til should have been more proactive in cleaning the ditch of the insects.

"I am appalled that newspapers would print that I was responsible for West Nile virus," Van Til said Tuesday afternoon. "It's very, very frustrating along with everything else that is happening."

Well, OK, but the papers did not say Van Til was responsible for West Nile, the Bubonic plague or any other disease.

They simply reported the news release from Krieg, and Van Til had a chance to make his case in the press.

But the "everything else" to which Van Til referred may have to be taken more seriously than Krieg's political allegations.

A federal grand jury has subpoenaed a number of employees from the surveyor's office in the wake of an FBI raid a couple of months ago.

No one is saying, but it's been reported that the investigation involves Van Til politicking on county time.

It could potentially have national repercussions.

If the Republicans get a leg up on the Democrats in Lake County, Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock could stand a chance of winning the county in the November U.S. Senate race.

Or it may be the other way around. The outcome of the race between Mourdock and U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, a Granger Democrat who represents Indiana's 2nd Congressional District, could affect the Van Til-Krieg race.

Don't think it could happen? Neither did Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Indianapolis, who has been in office since 1976 and who was beaten by Mourdock in the May GOP primary.

And with Van Til in some apparent hot water, he could become the next Carol Ann Seaton, who in 2010 became the first Democratic candidate in Lake County to be defeated in a countywide race since the 1950s.

She was beaten out for Lake County assessor by Republican Hank Adams, the former St. John Township assessor.

Didn't help her that she was facing charges that she may have lied about her state of residence in order to run for office.

Van Til, it's important to note, is not facing charges. He may never do so.

But the subpoenas don't help his chances a lot, regardless of whether he is innocent or not.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at mark.kiesling@nwi.com or (219) 933-4170.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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