Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Indiana Election Law is worse then even I thought

Check this out per the Indiana Code:

IC 3-14-1-14.5
Commingling committee funds with personal funds
Sec. 14.5. A person who recklessly violates IC 3-9-2-9(c) by commingling the funds of a committee with the personal funds of an officer, a member, or an associate of the committee commits a Class B misdemeanor.As added by P.L.3-1993, SEC.231.

IC 3-9-2-9
Transfer of contributions to treasurer; segregation of funds
Sec. 9. (a) Each person who accepts a contribution for a
committee shall, on demand of the treasurer of the committee, and in
any case within thirty (30) days after receipt of the contribution,
transfer to the treasurer the actual contribution if it is money or a
detailed account if it is other than money.
(b) The transfer must include the actual monetary value and the
information about the contribution required to be reported by the
treasurer under IC 3-9-5-14.
(c) This subsection applies to a committee that accepts
contributions or makes expenditures in an aggregate amount of more
than two hundred dollars ($200) in a year. All funds of a committee
must be segregated from, and may not be commingled with, the
personal funds of officers, members, or associates of the committee.
As added by P.L.5-1986, SEC.5. Amended by P.L.7-1990, SEC.31;

The purpose of the above setions of Indiana code seem fairly clear at first glance. In my opinion the point of this law is to ensure that the personal funds of a candidate and the funds of the candidates committee are separate. This is similar to corporate law that require nearly the same thing.

Per the Indiana code commingling is a class B misdemeanor if it is proven to be reckless.

Per local news reporting Matt Kelty is being accused of two counts of "commingling."
The above Indiana Code sections apply to all campaigns that spend or raise $200 a year. That is pretty much every campaign in Indiana.

I am certain that this rule is violated to a small extent by almost EVERY campaign in the state; however, I am not sure what the definition of "recklessly violates" is.

Let me give you an example.

Lets say I am running for office and I raise $1000 and put it into a campaign account. Lets say I go online and I purchase 500 Campaign Buttons that I need in a hurry. I decide to purchase them using my personal credit card. They cost me $100 and I place the charge on my visa. I have my Treasurer write me a check for $100.

Did I just commingle funds per a strict interpretation of the law?

The answer is actually yes since I charged the item on my personal credit card.

Was this a "recklessly violating the law?" I have no idea. In my opinion this SHOULD not be a problem and it should be legal. I have no idea what a Court would decide.

Mike Sylvester

3 comments:

Robert Enders said...

"Commingling" means that the funds are stored in the same account or physical location. If a candidate buys buttons and he is reimbursed, that is not commigling.

The following situation would be commingling, and is the kind of situation the law is intended to prevent. A candidate has $2500 in his personal checking account. He raises $3000 for his campaign and deposits into that checking account, rather than create a seperate account for the campaign money.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Robert:

Boy are you wrong.

You should look at some case law regarding commingling of funds...

Mike Sylvester

Robert Enders said...

I understand that there is a difference between the law as it is written and as it is enforced. Show me the case law then.

"Commingle" means "to mix". To break that law, I must mix my campaign money with my own money. If I buy those buttons, then I am reimbursed, that is not "comingling". If someone is actually prosecuted for that, then that prosecuter has misinterpreted the law.