ANDERSON — Thanks to an oddity in federal law, Madison County resident Dion Douglas can run for a seat in the U.S. House even with a felony conviction.
Douglas, 41, is one of five candidates seeking the Democratic Party nomination for the 5th Congressional District. Incumbent Republican Susan Brooks is running unopposed in the May primary.
A first-time candidate for elective office, his wife Kristy is seeking the party’s nomination for Madison County recorder against 2014 candidate Barbara Joy.
If Douglas was running for a Madison County office or a state office, the felony conviction would prevent him from seeking the office.
Douglas in 2009 entered a plea of guilty in Marion County to a Class D felony charge of theft. There was a civil judgment against Douglas in the amount of $88,000 in restitution to a former employer.
“I used a company credit card for personal expenses,” Douglas said during an interview with The Herald Bulletin. “I made a mistake. It was something I did and I accept it.”
He admitted not paying any restitution to his former employer, which would have allowed the felony conviction to be reduced to a misdemeanor charge. Douglas received a suspended sentence.
“I have bipolar disorder which made it difficult to keep a job,” he said. “Once I stopped fighting that and accepted it, I was able to turn around for the better.”
Douglas mentions his felony conviction on his campaign website and on social media.
He is seeking the nomination against Dee Thornton, Eshel Faraggi, Kyle Brenden Moore and Sean Dugdale.
Douglas is currently a precinct committeeman for the Democratic Party in Green Township in the Summerlake area.
“I decided to run for office because I’m tired of the politics in Washington,” he said. “I was working with Mike Hartley, so when he dropped out there was no one else in the race.”
Douglas said he believes if you want something done right you have to do it yourself. He says he wants to bring Hoosier common sense to the U.S. House.
He is unhappy that Brooks responds to residents in letters signed by her staff members or through form letters and will answer to people on social media.
Douglas admits that he is an underdog for the nomination and believes Thornton will be the candidate with the most money for the campaign.
Douglas said he has been campaigning in Hamilton County. He claims to have raised $1,000 which has been spent on campaign buttons and cards.
“I’m going to run as lean a campaign as possible,” Douglas said. “The office pays $174,000 per year, and to spend thousands of dollars to campaign doesn’t make any sense. I will spend money on gasoline to travel and talk to people.”
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.