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5 political candidates file lawsuit

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Three judicial candidates in Marion County and two candidates for the Indiana House are suing the county Board of Voter Registration and Election Board, alleging they were denied access to public information.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in Marion Circuit Court claims that the Marion County Board of Voter Registration illegally denied the candidates access to public information in its voter registration base. The plaintiffs also allege that the Election Board violated the public record laws by not adopting a policy that would allow them access to the information.

The plaintiffs are Greg Bowes, the former Marion County assessor who is a Democratic candidate for Superior Court judge; Marion Superior judge candidates Mark King, a Democrat, and Paul Ogden, a Republican; and Zach Mulholland and Brian Cooper, both Democrats running for the Indiana House.

Bowes’ campaign issued a press release Thursday morning announcing the lawsuit. He, along with King and Ogden, are running against the slated candidates in Marion County – the candidates endorsed by the local Democratic and Republican parties.

According to the release, the plaintiffs believe the two county boards are “doing the bidding of the party county chairmen in violation of the law. The board members are paid with tax dollars, but serve at the pleasure of the county chairmen.”

In January, Ogden sent a letter to the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission arguing that the Marion County judicial candidate fees are required “slating fees” that the commission prohibited in a 1992 advisory opinion. Both political parties ask for thousands of dollars from their judicial candidates – anywhere from $12,000 to $13,500 –but party chairman contend that the fees aren’t mandatory and are strictly designed to help cover costs.

In Marion County, Republican and Democratic candidates get the same number of judicial candidate ballot spots. Parties hold slating conventions where they endorse who will appear on the ballot and each party collects money from those candidates to pay for the election costs. If someone isn’t slated and decides not to run against the slated candidates, that person receives an 80 percent refund.

 

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