The three members of the Porter County Election Board were not at all
pleased with the way a complaint against County Councilman Jim Biggs’ 2012
campaign finance reports was delivered to them, but they have asked their
attorney Clay Patton to check into the claims to determine if violations did
The board took up discussion of two anonymous letters at its meeting Friday.
One dated March 14, 2013, asked the election board to “conduct a full and
complete forensic audit” of Biggs’ 2012 pre-primary report and the
subsequent annual report that he and his campaign treasurer Gloria Reed
submitted. The documents were mailed in a box along with copies of the
Indiana Election Code to board members as well as area newspapers, the
County Prosecutor’s office, the Indiana Attorney General’s office, and the
U.S. Attorney’s office.
The second letter was sent early last week, dated April 11, to the same
parties citing an amended report filed by Biggs and news reports that
“continue to raise concerns about the validity, integrity and intent of the
Committee to Elect Jim Biggs.”
Among the violations that the complaints alleged were failure to file a
statement of organization, failure to file report donations on a timely
basis, and failure to report donations and receipts of expenditures.
The state requires all candidates, open committees and political parties in
county elections to report all contributions and receipts to the election
Biggs ran for Northern County Commissioner on the Republican ticket but was
defeated in the May 2012 primary election by incumbent John Evans.
Biggs did not attend as he told the Chesterton Tribune later that no
one from the election board requested he attend the meeting. Evans sat in
the audience listening to the board’s discussion.
Board President and Republican member Patrick Lyp said as of Friday, no one
has identified themselves to the board as the author of the letters. He
believes this may be the first time the board has had to deal with an
anonymous complaint since he joined the board in 2004.
“I cannot think of one instance where a complainant did not reveal
themselves,” Lyp said.
He encouraged the individual or individuals to disclose themselves, even if
it is done in “crayon on the back of a napkin.”
Lyp said the state’s election laws do not spell out how to handle anonymous
complaints so it is up to the board whether or not to accept them. The
board, he said, is able to advise the county prosecutor after its own
“As a general rule, I’m not a big fan of anonymous complaints, but we need
to take complaints seriously. If they raise issues, we have an obligation to
see if there is a basis to move forward,” said Lyp.
When complaints have been made in the past, the board has given candidates
the opportunity to make the correction, he said.
The board’s secretary, County Clerk Karen Martin, said she was unhappy with
the mailer’s decision to make the return address the same as the recipient’s
address, which Martin said made it appear as if she had sent the box to
herself. However, looking through the documents Martin said she believes
that “75 percent of the reports had errors” and called on the board to take
“We need to research this,” Martin said. If the board looks at one report,
then it should look at all of them and create a list of delinquent reports,
she said. “It’s a concern of ours because we haven’t done so in the past.”
But not knowing who the accuser is makes it difficult to know what questions
to ask in an audit, Martin added.
Also not a proponent of anonymous letters was Democratic member J.J.
“That’s nonsense. That’s child’s play. It’s not something I would be a part
of. I would think this is head hunting, at best,” he said.
Stankiewicz said he would prefer the board wait with a hearing until the
persons behind the complaint “has the courage or the veracity to document
what they are charging and why” and he said Biggs should have the
opportunity to face his accusers without “talking to a blank wall.”
Patton said Biggs did write the board a letter along with his amended report
expressing his apologies for the inaccuracies. The report showed an in-kind
donation from Golden Technologies of $7,150 for the campaign website and
items regarding a fundraiser dinner in Portage.
Biggs communicated in his letter that he had not read the complaints. Patton
said that had Biggs read the complaint, he could have seen what the valid
concerns were and turn in his amended report based on those.
The board voted 3-0 to have Patton make a legal review of only Biggs’
amended report. Lyp asked Patton to also outline what the board’s
obligations are. If the board schedules another meeting, it will ask Biggs
to read the letter and submit his responses in writing.
Also, the board approved a motion that candidate campaign finance reports be
scanned and available for public viewing on the County’s website, as
suggested by Voters Registration Democratic director Kathy Kozuszek.
Biggs had told the Tribune this morning he has since read the letter
and found some of the complaints had no basis in fact.
“I don’t understand it. It’s politics at its best,” said Biggs.
He said, for example, the accuser in his or her letter complains that Biggs
did not report postage for the forget-me-not seed packets. Biggs said there
was no postage because they were all handed out door to door or stuffed in
newspaper boxes, not mailed out.
He did admit that he had been late with turning in his annual report but
derived no benefit from it and “rushed” to get it in.
Biggs said he wished someone in the voters registration office had informed
him of any errors they saw when he turned his reports in. He said he would
be “happy to answer any questions the election board may have.”
Republican director in the voters office Sundae Schoon said she did not know
there were violations because she did not know that Biggs had a website or a