RICH JAMES: Kumstar machine-guns Ligon's reputation

2014-04-06T00:00:00Z RICH JAMES: Kumstar machine-guns Ligon's reputationBy Rich James nwitimes.com
April 06, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Some people will go to any length to get elected.

Richard Ligon is one of them. And sadly, he doesn’t think there is anything wrong with what he’s doing.

Well, he got an earful last week.

Ligon is retired from the National Guard and the U.S. Postal Service as an inspector. He is one of two Democrats challenging Sheriff John Buncich.

Ligon projects one of those holier than thou images. That doesn’t work when you’re swimming in the political sewer.

Ligon’s problem is Joseph Kumstar.

You might recall Kumstar was deputy police chief under Roy Dominguez, who preceded Buncich as sheriff.

You also may recall that Kumstar was convicted of the illegal acquisition and sale of restricted machine gun parts and laser sights. And he used his position as a police officer to make the illegal acquisitions.

Kumstar was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison. But he is still running the streets because the government wants to use him to testify against the weapons firm from which he acquired the parts.

So what does a guy who’s waiting to report to prison do with his time?

Well, Kumstar hit the campaign trail singing the praises of Ligon.

And Ligon, who wants to be the top law enforcement officer in the county, apparently embraces having a cop-gone-bad as a member of his campaign committee.

Kumstar was at centerstage at a Ligon fundraiser at the Patio in Merrillville a couple weeks back.

And Kumstar drives around one of those Ligonmobiles you might have seen parked around the county.

While Ligon has said he doesn’t see anything wrong with having a convicted felon campaigning for him, others saw it differently last week.

Seventy-six members of the Lake County Fraternal Order of Police issued an endorsement after hearing sheriff candidates speak a few days back.

Buncich got 90 percent of the vote. Not one law enforcement officer voted for Ligon.

It’s unheard of for a leading challenger to a sitting sheriff not to get the vote of one FOP member. Some cops never like the boss.

Kumstar hurt every member of the county police department by violating the public trust. They won’t soon forget. They let Ligon know that walking hand-in-hand with the man who put all county police officers in a bad light isn’t acceptable.

There’s one other thing.

The League of Women Voters held a candidates night for those vying for sheriff last Tuesday.

One of the things Ligon talked about was “integrity” within the sheriff’s department.

Integrity is of the utmost importance to county police officers. Apparently it didn’t so much matter to Kumstar.

And now you have to wonder about Ligon, who is dangling Kumstar in the face of every honest cop.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjames@219.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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