Portage, IN

#1 Sep 16, 2011
Portage Mayor Olga Velazquez's re-election committee has returned $3,500 to the NorthShore Health Centers and $1,000 to Arnell Chevrolet in Burns Harbor after discovering the contributions violated campaign finance laws.

A complaint filed Monday brought the violations to the attention of the Porter County Election Board, but Velazquez, a Democrat, said she and her committee already were aware of the contributors' errors and had started returning the money.

"It was an honest mistake," she said. "I corrected it."

The complaint was filed by Portage resident Mary Liggett, a self-described Democrat, who said she put the detailed document together herself as part of a political debate with her mother, a Republican and former official in Lake Station.

She points out NorthShore gave Velazquez a $3,000 contribution in September 2009, which violated a law prohibiting nonprofit groups from donating to candidates. Another $3,000 contribution from Arnell in September 2010 exceeded a $2,000 limit for corporations, she said.

Arnell Chevrolet did not respond to a request for comment.

Attorney Ken Elwood, whose firm represents the city and NorthShore, said a $500 contribution was returned to NorthShore in May, the two older $3,000 contributions were discovered more recently, and the last of the money was returned Wednesday.

Any violations are with the contributors and not the re-election commmittee, which had reported receiving the money, he said.

Liggett said what she found most disturbing is that Velazquez is listed as vice chairwoman of NorthShore; Elwood's firm represents NorthShore; Elwood's mother is NorthShore CEO Janice Wilson; and Elwood has been campaigning for Velazquez.

"I believe the mayor has put a good company's tax-exempt status at risk," she said, calling for Velazquez's resignation as vice chairwoman.

Elwood said Wilson, not the board, made the decision to donate to Velazquez. He said the NorthShore board, not his mother, hired his firm, and he does not advise NorthShore directly nor has he been involved in business between NorthShore and the city.

Democratic Election Board member J.J. Stankiewicz could not comment further than confirming that he and the other members received Liggett's complaint.

Portage, IN

#2 Sep 16, 2011
seems that Good Ol Ken is just trying to save his other high paying will his family ever survive with the loss of all that hard earned HONEST money....pssshhh...yeah right...whatever...he is as greedy as it comes and will do anything....say anything to stay on top....

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