Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hamilton County GOP Bosses Use Party Funds, Phony Endorsement to Assist Fishers Candidate in Primary Challenge

Peter Emigh, Hamilton County Republican Chairman
On February 28, 2015, the Indianapolis Star published an expose of Hamilton County GOP politics, showing how Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Pete Emigh and Executive Director Andrew Greider formed private political action committees to steer money to specific primary candidates:
"That PAC money is often collected from the same people, businesses and organizations that contribute directly to the party and it usually goes to Republicans who support tax incentives to attract growth and development.   
Greider also manages certain primary campaigns, directly opposing other Republicans, a practice opposed by those GOP candidates not favored by party officials. 
Even more troubling to those outside the party's inner circle is the fact that Emigh personally profits from doing business with the three major
cities in the county, whose mayors he supports with that same PAC money. 
Andrew Greider, Executive
Director, Hamilton Co. GOP
As an independent broker for OneAmerica, the largest provider of 457 public retirement plans in the state, Emigh manages employee retirement accounts in Carmel, Noblesville and Westfield valued at nearly $70 million — all cities whose mayors he has backed financially through a PAC." 
Emigh and Greider's conduct was criticized by several Hamilton County Republican officials who believed the duo should not be using their positions in the party to favor one Republican over another. Emigh and Greider defended themselves claiming that "they [were] acting as private citizens, not as party officials using party resources, when backing candidates with the two PACs, or when Greider manages campaigns."

Fishers City Councilor
Selina Stoller
Emigh and Greider apparently concluded that using "independent" PACs to bypass the obvious impropriety of favoring Republican primary candidates over others wasn't fooling anyone.  As evidenced by their support of GOP candidate Selina Stoller, Emigh and Greider are now opting for a more direct approach.   

In the Fishers City Council Race, Northwest District, Stoller is squaring off against Mike Colby in a rematch.  Stoller beat Colby in the 2014 primary for that seat by just 12 votes.  A recent Stoller mailer touting her experience includes the disclaimer that it is "Paid for by the Hamilton County Republican Party."  So Emigh and Greider are now explicitly using party resources to favor one Republican candidate over another in the primary.

To further insult Hamilton County GOP party officials and workers, the mailer claims that Stoller is the "Endorsed Candidate" of the "Hamilton County Republican Party."  This was done despite the fact that the Hamilton County GOP does not have a primary endorsement process.  Apparently,Emigh and Greider have grown so arrogant and out-of-touch that they believe they are the party.  I'm sure most Hamilton County Republicans would disagree.

The mailing also claims Stoller is "Endorsed by the Fishers Firefighters" even though that organization apparently has not endorsed anyone in the Stoller-Colby race.

The disclaimer on the mailer notes that it was "authorized" by Stoller's political committee.  Stoller's 2015 pre-primary report, however, does not show any contribution from the Hamilton County GOP that would account for the primary mailer.  Stoller's 2014 annual report though shows an 11/4/2014 in-kind contribution of $5,712 for advertising from the Hamilton County Republican Party.


Jeff Heinzmann said...

In fairness, the party does not need to have a formal process for deciding whether to endorse primary candidates. But if it does not it opens itself up to charges of favoritism, etc. As a primary candidate in last year's Fishers municipal elections, it was clear to me that, because of the perculiar one-year terms brought about by the transition from a town to a city, the county party planned to support anyone who won in 2014 and found themselves facing a primary challenge in 2015. No one should be surprised, and it is in my view a reasonable poosition for the party to have taken.

LamLawIndy said...

You're correct that the party doesn't necessarily HAVE to have a formal endorsement process. It is theoretically possible in a non-slating county for a candidate to claim party endorsement if a single PC in his/her district endorses him/her.