ELWOOD — The Indiana State Police and FBI are investigating campaign finance expenditures by Elwood Mayor Ron Arnold for 2012 and 2013, according to local officials.
In particular, Arnold spent campaign money for out-of-state travel and personal bills, which could be seen as a violation of state election laws. A review of Arnold’s campaign finance records found that he spent $7,264 for Verizon wireless service and $3,939 for Comcast cable service.
Sam Hanna, the former Elwood police chief and the treasurer of Arnold’s campaign committee, confirmed that he has spoken several times with state police detectives.
Hanna said Arnold used a debit card for the purchases and the account at times had a negative balance. He said one check written to a local vendor was returned for non-sufficient funds.
Hanna said Arnold filled out the annual campaign finance reports for 2012 and 2013 and Hanna signed them after questioning some of the expenditures.
“I was concerned,” Hanna said.
Contributions are made to campaign committees to help fund a candidate’s run for office, to pay for advertising and other campaign-related needs.
Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said Monday the ISP approached him before the investigation began. State police received complaints about alleged irregularities in Arnold’s campaign finance report, Cummings said.
Initially, Cummings turned down a request for a subpoena by ISP for Arnold’s campaign bank records, but after being informed that the campaign paid for a hotel room in California and cable bills, Cummings approved the subpoena.
“There are several possible statute violations,” Cummings said. “You can’t use campaign funds for your own personal use.”
Arnold said Thursday he was unaware of any investigation and that no investigator had spoken with him.
However, Hanna disclosed the ISP investigation at an Elwood City Council meeting in September.
“I’ve had a group of people engaging in politics of personal destruction,” Arnold said. “I won’t engage in politics of personal destruction.”