(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County is at risk of having a right-wing extremist form of government if a Republican running for county commissioner is elected, according to the La Porte County Democratic Party in a written statement released publicly on Friday.
The party said a vote for Connie Gramarossa is a vote to give more power to "extreme fringe" La Porte County Commissioner Joe Haney.
Gramarossa, currently a La Porte County Council member, is challenging Democratic Party incumbent Commissioner Sheila Matias.
If Gramarossa is elected, Democratic Party spokesman Corey Campbell said Haney would likely become Commission President since they would have majority decision-making authority on the three-member governing body over their political opponent Commissioner Republican Rich Mrozinski.
The Democratic Party also accused Haney of being a "wild" conspiracy theorist whose allegations of things like corruption and intimidation in county government since becoming a commissioner in January of 2020 are made up "out of thin air" without a "credible investigation" or "shred of proof."
The party also criticized Haney for not publicly condemning the Oath Keepers, saying he supports the right-wing militia group. Oath Keepers are an American far-right extremist group present at the January 6th insurrection event.
Campbell said the stakes couldn't be higher for people caring about "good county government and integrity" who don't want to see more of the "dangerous doses of behavior" already exhibited by Haney.
"Is it any wonder why Joe Haney refuses to publicly condemn the Oathkeepers? It's clear that Haney buys into the same wild conspiracy theories that are completely untethered from facts, just like in the Oathkeepers playbook," Campbell said.
In response, Haney called the claims "ridiculous" and an act of "desperation" from the Democratic party.
"I think there are those on the other side that are scared to death of openness and transparency and returning county government back to what it should be. Decency, civility, and respect. This idea that that is fringe is absolutely non-sense," Haney said.
Haney also said local Democrats care only about "keeping themselves in power and serving the special interests."
The names of Haney and five other elected officials from Indiana were recently on a leaked list of Oathkeepers members. Haney has insisted that he's never been a member of the organization tied to the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building. He speculated his name being on the list was likely a mix-up connected to his contacts with the group as a freelance reporter doing articles related to gun rights in the past.
Haney said the Democratic Party is playing election-year politics by continuing to keep the spotlight on this "non-story."