AUBURN, Ind. (WFFT) - Concerned Citizens of DeKalb County were fined $300 by the DeKalb County Board of Elections Thursday for campaign finance violations.
Jonathan Franks, of Hamilton, filed a complaint against the group after a billboard advertising CCDC's opposition to DeKalb Central's facility improvements referendum appeared across the street from DeKalb High School. The billboard stated it was paid for by Concerned Citizens of DeKalb County.
Visit DeKalb Central's website to learn more about the proposed facility projects.
"You just can't pass a hat around, collect money, not keep any business record and attempt to spend money as loud as a billboard sign," Franks told FOX 55.
David Powers, president of CCDC, told board members he wasn't aware the watchdog group was required to form a Political Action Committee for issues that appear on ballots.
Concerned Citizens of DeKalb County petitioned to get DeKalb Central's $37 million project before voters.
Powers said he assumed CCDC was protected by its non-profit corporation status.
"That enjoyed certain protections under the law of freedom of speech," said Powers.
Powers said he filed the proper form for a Political Action Committee once he was formally notified about the complaint.
The DeKalb County Election Board imposed the $300 fine instead of the potential $1,000 fine under state law.
"To me personally, I think these people are trying to exercise their personal right to speak out.," said DeKalb County Clerk Holy Albright.
Albright said the board imposed the fine to remind people they need to pay attention to laws while campaigning in elections.
She added this is unusual for DeKalb County.
"In a small community, you know, everyone knows everyone. Everybody usually does the right thing," said Albright.
Because DeKalb Central has a small portion in Steuben County, a similar hearing will be held Aprl 1 in Angola.
However, Franks told FOX 55 he hasn't decided if he will push the issue there.