Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

May 2, 2012

Investigation under way in voter registration office

Allegations of ghost employment surface

Police are investigating allegations that the Democrat Party appointee to the Howard County Voter Registration Board performed political activities while working for the county.

Howard County Sheriff Steve Rogers said Tuesday his agency is conducting an investigation and has requested assistance from Indiana State Police.

Republican Carol Shallenberger is alleging that her Democrat counterpart, Beth Rakestraw, may have committed ghost employment and misused county-owned equipment.

Rogers would not discuss specifics of the investigation.

Shallenberger said Rakestraw performed “get-out-the-vote” activity Saturday while being paid by the county and while using county-owned property to make political calls.

The allegations surfaced when Shallenberger refused to sign the pay voucher for the six employees in the office because Rakestraw claimed to have worked 8.5 hours, indicating on the time sheet that she did “GOTV” for the party.

Rakestraw is claiming eight hours of comp time for working Saturday.

Rakestraw declined to discuss the allegations, but acknowledged she did perform GOTV work that day.

State law requires both Shallenberger and Rakestraw sign the payroll voucher for employees to be paid.

The Howard County Employee Handbook prohibits the use of county property for political activity, including telephones, computers and fax machines. It also prohibits political activity during working hours.

Rakestraw and Shallenberger are appointed by the chairman of the two political parties in Howard County, under state statute.

Craig Dunn, chairman of the Republican Party, said Shallenberger was asked by the Howard County Auditor’s Office to sign the payroll voucher and include a note outlining her objections.

“We’re awaiting some legal clarifications,” he said. “I have advised her not to sign it. If she believes the activity was illegal, she should not sign it.”

Dunn said he has brought his concerns to the proper authorities.

State law spells out that in the event of a dispute between Voter Registration Board members, it can be resolved by the local Election Board.

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