By Lesley Weidenbener
INDIANAPOLIS – Democrat Beth White’s staff acknowledged Wednesday that it distributed campaign material for her secretary of state’s race without a required disclosure notice.
But spokesman Chris Becker called the problem an oversight and said the campaign has stopped using the postcard-style materials.
Still, the Indiana Republican Party announced Wednesday that it intends to file a complaint with the Indiana Election Division about the issue. “Democrat Beth White is asking voters to make her the state’s chief election officer, but she failed to follow a very well-known state election law,” said Indiana Republican Chairman Tim Berry.
State law requires candidates to print a disclaimer on literature if the material clearly identifies the candidate and expressly advocates the election or defeat of a candidate. A violation can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $5,000 fine or one year in jail or both. However, candidates rarely face serious penalties for such violations.
White is facing Republican Connie Lawson, whom former Gov. Mitch Daniels appointed to serve as secretary of state after the man who won the race – Charlie White – resigned following his conviction on voter fraud.
The secretary of state oversees the election division and serves as the state’s chief election official. Berry said it’s important then that White, currently the Marion County Clerk, took a “shortcut” when it came to Indiana election law.
But Becker said neither White nor the campaign intended to circumvent the law.
“The proof that we sent the printer included a disclaimer, but for some reason it was not included when the cards were printed,” Becker said. “It was an oversight on our part, but we have stopped handing those out.”
Becker said most of the cards were left at county party headquarters to be distributed and the campaign has asked that they no longer be handed out. He did not say how many cards were distributed.
Lesley Weidenbener is a reporter at TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.