Earlier today, FWOb talked with Nick Hess, the Common Cause state chair, who filed a complaint with the Allen County Prosecutor's office yesterday regarding the money loaned to the Matt Kelty for mayor campaign.
Mr. Hess said, "I'm not saying 100% affirmative it was a crime but it ought to be investigated."
Mr. Hess said that he believes the actions of the Kelty campaign corrodes the public's right to know the source of campaign funds.
He was asked whether he had a nexus to Allen County. Mr. Hess said that as the signatory to the complaint he was representing his members and that they had some members in Allen County. He said that the executive committee of Common Cause had been consulted.
Andrew Downs, the Democratic member of the Allen County Election Board, has served as a board member of Common Cause Indiana.
Mr. Hess said that loaning oneself campaign funds undermines transparency. He said that Common Cause of Indiana had been working for greater transparency in campaign finance.
Mr. Hess was asked whether the organization had supported or sought state legislation in the past which would have strengthened the language of the Indiana Code regarding loans. Mr. Hess replied, "Common Cause has always been involved in campaign reform."
He said "we definitely support new legislation" regarding candidate loans.
FWOb also asked whether Common Cause had supported legislation introduced by State Representative Matt Bell that would subject Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) to the same reporting requirements and donation limits to which Indiana corporations are subjected. Mr. Hess said that Common Cause supports publicly financed" campaigns. While saying that might be a "pie in the sky" goal, he said that he believes donations should be limited to "natural human beings" and not to any business entities.
He does not believe donations from business entities are transparent. However, Mr. Hess did say that as long as donations were permitted from businesses that there should not be "special laws to favor certain business organizations."
The Bell legislation to subject LLC's to the same limits as corporations did not pass during the 2007 legislative session. State Representative Bell will reintroduce the bill regarding LLC's for the 2008 legislative session.