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Candidates schooled on campaign finance | Porter County News

VALPARAISO — Candidates got a lesson in using Porter County’s new online campaign finance software as well as how to fill out forms the old-school way.

“We’ve never had this many people at a campaign finance training before,” Porter County Clerk Jessica Bailey.

The Porter County election board has begun to levy fines as it enforces campaign finance rules. Even filing one minute late can bring a $50 fine, said Kenard Taylor, who led Saturday’s training.

Taylor, of KLT Consulting LLC, was the county’s test pilot for the software and brought about numerous tweaks, he said. Over the years, he has filed some 300 reports and is currently treasurer for 17 campaigns, he said.

“Don’t kid yourself; people are looking at these reports,” he told the attendees.

Taylor has testified in two federal trials involving campaign finance and spoke with FBI agents on a third, he said.

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His first advice for candidates is to not be treasurer of their own campaign committee. “The candidate’s job is to get elected, and if you’re spending your time on campaign finance reports, you’re not spending enough time on your campaign,” Taylor said.

Another no-no is to use your personal bank account for campaign donations. That can bring IRS scrutiny of your finances because all deposits in your personal account count toward your personal income. Instead, get an employer identification number from the IRS and set up a separate account for your campaign.

Taylor advised not opening an interest-bearing account. Earning interest automatically triggers the need to file an income tax return for the campaign. Most local banks don’t charge interest, but some bigger national banks do, he said.

Keeping meticulous records is vital. For example, being sloppy on whether the donation is from an individual or a company can force the donor to go before the county election board to answer charges of violating a campaign finance law. “Guess how long that donor is going to be your donor” if he or she must get a lawyer to sort it all out, Taylor said.

Contributions need to be recorded carefully.

“The best thing you can accept is checks because that gives you all the information you need,” Taylor said. He advised photocopying checks before depositing them and using cash receipt books that give the campaign a duplicate copy.

In-kind donations have to be reported as both an income and an expense. “It would be best if he gave you a letter saying what that fair market value is,” he said.

Taylor walked candidates and campaign workers through a 70-slide PowerPoint presentation to explain the intricacies of filling out the reports.

“Over the last 10 years, I’ve faced a lot of questions,” he said, including what to do if the candidate dies before the campaign committee is dissolved. If that happens, it’s up to the executor to determine whether to give the balance to charity or to another candidate.

Taylor praised Bailey’s work in administering the county’s elections. “One of the greatest things she did was get this county’s easy campaign finance thing going,” he said.

“Some of you may want to do the old way. I feel sorry for you, but that’s your choice,” he said.

The online reporting system allows the campaign treasurer to enter information frequently throughout the campaign to ease the burden of spending a lot of time just before the deadline to fill out reports.

This year is also the first that Porter County will be using vote centers. Voters will be able to cast a ballot at any polling place, not just the one for their assigned precinct, as was the case in the past.

Early voting begins Monday. Hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Hours on April 23 and April 30, the last two Saturdays before the election, will be 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Early voting locations are Porter County Administration Building, 155 Indiana Ave., Room 102A, in downtown Valparaiso; Chesterton Town Hall, 790 Broadway; Hebron Community Center, 611 N. Main St.; North County Government Complex, 3560 Willowcreek Road, Portage; Union Township Fire Station 2, 267 N. 600 West; the Valparaiso Fire Department training building, 355 Evans Ave.; and USW Local 6787, 1100 N. Max Mochal Hwy., Chesterton.

Gallery: The Times Photos of the Week

PNW hosts Kahlo Karnival

Savannah Benitez creates a flower crown Thursday at the Kahlo Karnival at Purdue University Northwest in Hammond.

John J. Watkins, The Times

PNW hosts Kahlo Karnival

Dayanara Villareal-Brown won the Frida Kahlo look-alike contest.

John J. Watkins, The Times

PNW hosts Kahlo Karnival

Rosalba Valdez and Gionany Revelle perform at the Kahlo Karnival.

John J. Watkins, The Times

PNW hosts Kahlo Karnival

John Herrera, of Griffith, uses markers to color in a picture of Frida Kahlo at the Kahlo Karnival at Purdue University Northwest in Hammond.

John J. Watkins, The Times

032722-spt-bkh-state_21

Chesterton’s Justin Sims takes the opening tip against Cathedral’s Xavier Booker at the start of the Class 4A state championship game on Saturday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Jeffrey D. Nicholls, The Times

032722-spt-bkh-state_20

Chesterton’s fans cheer during the player introductions at the Class 4A state championship game against Cathedral on Saturday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Jeffrey D. Nicholls, The Times

032722-spt-bkh-state_6

Chesterton’s Owen Guest consoles Carson Parrish as time expires in the 65-31 loss to Cathedral in the Class 4A state championship game on Saturday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Jeffrey D. Nicholls, The Times

Urban farm looking to create pollinator park

Goats climb on cut up trees at Faith Farms on Wednesday. The urban farm is preparing for its ninth growing season.

Connor Burge, The Times

Urban farm looking to create pollinator park

As Faith Farms CDC gears up for its ninth growing season, the urban farm is hoping to complete its pollinator park project. Located in Gary’s Emerson neighborhood, both the farm and the pollinator park sit atop former vacant lots. 

Connor Burge, The Times

Urban farm looking to create pollinator park

A mural painted on a shipping crate used for storage at Faith Farms in Gary. 

Connor Burge, The Times

Evelyn Ostrom is 90 years old and a regular bowler with the Tuesday AM Koffee Klatch

Soon to be 90, Evelyn Ostrom, left, is congratulated by fellow bowler Brenda Peters during Tuesday AM Koffee Klatch league play at Olympia Lanes in Hammond.

John J. Watkins, The Times

Evelyn Ostrom is 90 years old and a regular bowler with the Tuesday AM Koffee Klatch

Evelyn Ostrom sports a Happy Birthday tiara as she celebrates her upcoming 90th birthday at Olympia Lanes in Hammond.

John J. Watkins, The Times

Evelyn Ostrom is 90 years old and a regular bowler with the Tuesday AM Koffee Klatch

Soon to be 90, Evelyn Ostrom prepares to throw during Tuesday AM Koffee Klatch bowling league play at Olympia Lanes in Hammond.

John J. Watkins, The Times

Evelyn Ostrom is 90 years old and a regular bowler with the Tuesday AM Koffee Klatch

Evelyn Ostrom, soon to be 90, waits for her ball as she bowls at Olympia Lanes in Hammond.

John J. Watkins, The Times

032322-nws-pollinator 6.jpg

Connor Burge, The Times

Appeals on Wheels visits Andrean High School

Andrean High School student Alonzo Paul asks a question Tuesday following an Appeals on Wheels session.

John J. Watkins, The Times

Appeals on Wheels visits Andrean High School

Andrean High School students listen attentively Tuesday during an Appeals on Wheels session.

John J. Watkins, The Times

Appeals on Wheels visits Andrean High School

Student India Smith asks a question Tuesday following an Appeals on Wheels session at Andrean High School.

John J. Watkins, The Times

Appeals on Wheels visits Andrean High School

Indiana Court of Appeals Judges, from left, Paul D. Mathias, Margret G. Robb and Elizabeth F. Tavitas take questions from students Tuesday at an Appeals on Wheels session at Andrean High School.

John J. Watkins The Times

Forgotten suffragette memorialized in MC

Sculptor Bernard Williams, right, stands with three descendants of suffragette Naomi Anderson — great-granddaughter Betty Austin, great-great-granddaughter Alicia Guerrero and great-great-grandson Ronald Matthews.

Doug Ross, The Times

Forgotten suffragette memorialized in MC

Poetess Carness Carnes reads a tribute to Naomi Anderson at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts.

Doug Ross, The Times

Forgotten suffragette memorialized in MC

Suffragette Naomi Anderson’s great-granddaughter, Betty Austin, center, stands with her daughter, Alicia Guerrero, and Guerrero’s cousin, Ronald Matthews, in front of one piece of the Naomi Anderson sculpture at Wescott Park in Michigan City.

Doug Ross, The Times

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