- Associated Press - Saturday, August 15, 2015

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) - Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s state political campaign spent $13,740 during the first six months of the year, with all of the money going to First Bankcard in credit card payments.

Republican Senate President Pro Tem David Long of Fort Wayne reported spending $27,691 in 2014 with Cardmember Service, and House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath reported $13,380 last year on his American Express. The Journal Gazette reported (http://bit.ly/1TurB5o ) the practice allows candidates to avoid specifying how they are spending campaign funds.

Brad King, Republican co-director of the state Election Division, said his office generally tells candidates to indicate what the expenditure was for, not just the name of the credit card. He said a notation on the back of the campaign finance forms that says “under normal circumstances you should not list a credit card issuer as a recipient. If making a payment on a credit card, list vendor, not the credit card company.”

Pelath said he used a credit card for expedience, saying it largely covered fuel and food.

“I do an immense amount of traveling,” he said, saying he blew out three tires and threw a rod in his car last year.

A fundraiser at an Indianapolis steakhouse added $3,200 to the credit card, he said. He said the Election Division instructed him how to report the credit card payments.

Long’s campaign said only “these expenses were miscellaneous, incidental expenditures and reported as such,” and Zoeller’s campaign said the credit card covers “campaign expenses of meals and other miscellaneous expenses while he is traveling or hosting meetings.”

King concedes he has never seen a complaint for a candidate spending contributions inappropriately.

Andrew Downs, head of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at IPFW, said Indiana’s expenditure rules match the relatively lax oversight of contribution rules.

“It is an extreme rarity to challenge what someone is spending money on because it’s so general,” he said. “Is it really advancing your cause to buy a ticket to another person’s fundraiser? ‘Did you need to buy that tie? Yes, I was shooting a commercial.’ “

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Information from: The Journal Gazette, http://www.journalgazette.net

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