(La Porte, IN) - A complaint about election fraud in La Porte County is now in the hands of Indiana State Police to investigate.
The complaint alleges local businessman Jody Slabaugh is registered to vote at an address on State Road 39 north of Severs Road, but he votes while living elsewhere.
The issue was brought up at the La Porte County Election Board meeting yesterday afternoon, where Slabaugh denied the allegations he described as not from a credible source.
For years, Slabaugh said he’d rented the property, which has a studio apartment. He also operates his repair business at that location.
“Everything that I own is in that building. You guys want to turn around and take the word of some guy who’s got an ax to grind with me on Facebook,” Slabaugh said.
Slabaugh also alleged the complaint from resident Rick Kentaft is retaliation for him being outspoken against some local political figures.
“People want to try and shut me up because I don’t agree with some of the politics in this county. You ruin my reputation. You run me through the mud, and you want to have a criminal investigation. I don’t care. The cops can come visit me. I can show them my little studio apartment. Whatever you want to do. I don’t care,” Slabaugh said.
Supporters of Slabaugh said the complaint should have been investigated by the election board and then turned over to the police if the allegations had merit. However, election board members explained their job is to run elections, and the complaint was given to the police because they are the experts at investigating.
During the meeting, La Porte County Republican Party Chairman Allen Stevens accused election board member Nelson Pichardo of going to the police at the direction of La Porte County government attorney Shaw Friedman.
Pichardo is an attorney at the law firm Friedman & Associates.
Stevens said it’s not the first time political enemies of Friedman have been targeted.
“He’s done it time and time again with Dennis Metheny. He’s tried doing it with Tim Stabosz, and now he’s coming after Jody Slabaugh. It’s a sad state of affairs in La Porte County politics,” Stevens said.
Slabaugh is a supporter of Stabosz, the La Porte County Auditor, and La Porte County Commissioner Joe Haney. Haney and Stabosz have been at the forefront of an ongoing bitter political feud with Friedman and County Commissioners Rich Mrozinski and Sheila Matias.
Pichardo said he would go to the police with any election fraud complaint, no matter who was accused.
La Porte County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Ron Heeg said the complaint was turned over to Indiana State Police to avoid the appearance of any conflict of interest.