Posters. Public rallies. Advertisements.
When people contribute to a local candidate’s campaign fund, they expect the money to be used for directly related expenses such as those listed above.
Cable TV? Residential phone bills? Hotel stays outside of the area?
Not so much.
Elwood Mayor Ron Arnold is in hot water. The FBI and the Indiana State Police are investigating him for possible misuse of campaign funds in violation of state laws.
A recent article in The Herald Bulletin (visit www.heraldbulletin.com and search for “Ron Arnold”) revealed that he spent more than $34,000 in campaign funds during 2012 and 2013 — non election years for his office — including more than $11,000 combined for Verizon wireless service and Comcast cable service.
Arnold also used campaign funds to pay for hotel stays. The money was directed to Nashville, Tenn.; Louisville and Los Angeles.
Arnold says he didn’t travel to California but made a payment to the home address of a hotel chain there.
“I’ve had a group of people engaging in politics of personal destruction,” said Arnold, defending his use of campaign funds and claiming that no investigators had spoken with him.
It can be difficult to prosecute a candidate for misuse of campaign funds. In defense, candidates can draw tenuous connections between expenditures and campaign efforts.
For example, Arnold could claim that he used campaign funds to pay for Comcast because he must keep up on news on TV and online to assure that he remains a well-informed and viable candidate.
But candidates with integrity will be extra careful to avoid the expenditure of any campaign funds for goods and services that could be characterized as personal-use items.
We’ll see how the investigations of Arnold turn out. In the meantime, his constituents in Elwood can draw their own conclusions, from a commonsense perspective, about the validity of his campaign fund use.
Arnold expenditures Campaign finance reports for 2012 and 2013 filed with the Madison County clerk's office list $34,368 in expenditures by Elwood Mayor Ron Arnold. Here are some of Arnold's notable expenditures: u Verizon Wireless, 2012-2013: $7,264 u Comcast, 2012-2013: $3,939 u Payments to Arnold, 2012-2013: $1,920 u Master Card, 2012: $832 u Casey's General Store, 2012-2013: $776 u Progressive Insurance, 2012-2013: $637 u Swifty, 2012-2013: $283 u Days Inn, Nashville, Tenn., Jan. 17, 2012: $162 u Ramada Plaza hotel, Louisville, May 28, 2013: $160.90 u Holiday Inn, Los Angeles, July 24, 2012: $149