SOUTH BEND, Ind. — REAL News Michiana has discovered the St. Joseph County Democrat Party owes former party chair and convicted felon, Owen “Butch” Morgan, more than $18,000. RNM discovered the debt owed to Morgan through the party’s December 2020, financials, that can be seen below. Morgan’s debt is listed on page 23.
Morgan was the St. Joseph County Democrat Party Chair for years before he was convicted of two counts of conspiracy in 2013, stemming from a scheme to forge petition signatures in 2008. You can read more about the case in a South Bend Tribune article here.
While documents show the nature of the debt listed is “to cover expenses,” the date of the incurred debt is left out.
“It doesn’t look good.” Morgan told RNM’s Clifton French when discussing the optics of the debt. “It’s from a long time ago.”
Morgan said the debt is from about a decade ago when he was the party chair. He claims the party was going through some tough financial times and someone needed to come forward with some money for the mortgage and other expenses at the party headquarters.
“I’m not using it for influence.” He said. “They don’t have anything I want.”
However, Morgan did say he does want to get paid back.
“I would like to get the money back.” He said. “If they’d just pay $200 per month I’d be happy with that.”
Current Democrat Party Leadership was not as happy to address the issue.
“I’ll have you call our attorney. But, I’m not going to give you that name right now and I’m not going to give you their number until I’ve given them a head’s up that you’re starting this ridiculous investigation.” Dem Vice Chair Debbie Ladyga-Block said before refusing to answer any questions and hanging up the phone. You can listen to the conversation below.
RNM also contacted the Dem Party Secretary, Gladys Muhammad. Muhammad said the party is working on a plan to pay Morgan back, potentially with an installment plan.
However, it doesn’t appear the party has much money to part with. According to the December 2020 financials, the party had around $22,000 cash on hand. Paying off the debt in full would leave the Dems with about $4,000.
Current Dem Chair, Mark Torma, did not return RNM’s calls.
None of the party officials would say if Morgan is still peddling his influence over the county’s Democrat party.