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Dem. Clerk Candidate, current Clerk CFO, filed for bankruptcy

Lana Cleary, Democrat Candidate for St. Joseph County Clerk of Circuit Court

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — REAL News Michiana has learned the Democrat St. Joseph County Clerk of Circuit Court candidate, Lana Cleary, filed for bankruptcy. Cleary is the current Chief Financial Officer of the Clerk’s Office and has worked in the Clerk’s Office for 20 years. According to federal court documents, Cleary was included in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy filing as a co-debtor in 2014. Cleary then filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy for herself in 2016.

Subscribers can view both of Cleary’s bankruptcy filings below.

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Under Cleary, the Clerk’s Office has run into its own financial problems as well. The official audit of the office, obtained by RNM, shows $50,000 missing under Cleary’s watch.

The revelations regarding Cleary’s mismanagement of personal and taxpayer funds comes as her boss and current Clerk, Rita Glenn, is under two Indiana State Police investigations for the mismanagement of absentee ballots.

STATE POLICE INVESTIGATIONS

One investigation by the Indiana State Police comes after REAL News Michiana uncovered security video showing Glenn entering the secured ballot room alone, potentially breaking Indiana law. In the security video below, you can see Glenn enter the ballot room around 4:50pm on May 2nd of this year. That’s the day before the primary election and 20 minutes after the close of business hours for the Clerk’s Office. Glenn is then seen exiting the ballot room potentially ripping the documents up prior to shoving them down the sides of a blue disposal bin in an attempt to conceal them. Glenn is also seen checking another door that would give access to the hallway, potentially locking it prior to disposing the documents concealed in the bag.

The discovery of the video comes only months after the Indiana State Police opened another investigation into Glenn for potential voting law crimes following an RNM story about the Democrat having and disseminating multiple keys to the secured absentee ballot area, without the knowledge of the St. Joseph County Republican Party. The county has since hired an attorney to represent Glenn during the investigation.

In early May, Republican officials discovered the existence of multiple keys to access what is supposed to be a secure location to store absentee ballots before they’re counted. The room in the County-City Building, in Downtown South Bend, is secured with two different locks, one for the Republicans the other for the Democrats. In theory, a Republican and Democrat keyholder must be present to gain access to the ballots. While Republican leadership was under the impression that only one key existed for each lock, it turns out there could be up to 7 keys total, with multiple Republican keys being held by Democrats.

DISCOVERY OF KEYS

According to sources who wished not to be named, the revelations came through simple confusion about when designated keyholders were supposed to be at the County-City Building to open the room. The Republican key holder was not immediately available to open the room in early May, so Democrat St. Joseph County Circuit Court Clerk, Rita Glenn, grabbed what she called a “Master Key” and had what she claimed to be a “Republican” in her office open the door for her. That “Republican” is Helen Jojo. A quick search of her voting records show she has never voted in a Republican primary and is not considered to be a Republican by Indiana statute. In fact, the only primary she has voted in was in 2008 as a Democrat, according to voting records.

The St. Joseph County GOP Chair at the time, Zach Potts (who passed away in August), brought up concerns about this “master key” at an Election Board meeting in May. That’s when it was discovered even more keys existed.

WHO HAS THE KEYS

At the meeting, Rita Glenn claimed three people, aside from her, have Republican keys.

  • Ben Horvath: Republican Election Board Chair — Voted in only Republican Primaries. Horvath is selected as the official key holder.
  • Penny Stratton: Election Clerk and Employee of the St. Joseph County Circuit Court — Voted in only Democrat Primaries.
  • Brian Davidson: St. Joseph County Buildings Engineer — Voted in Republican Primary in 2020, Democrat Primaries in 2019 and 2018.

Glenn also disclosed that there are three Democrat keys. Those keyholders are listed below.

  • Brian Davidson: St. Joseph County Buildings Engineer — Voted in Republican Primary in 2020, Democrat Primaries in 2019 and 2018.
  • Penny Stratton: Election Clerk and Employee of the St. Joseph County Circuit Court — Voted in only Democrat Primaries.
  • Rita Glenn: Democrat St. Joseph County Circuit Court Clerk

IS IT ILLEGAL?

The intent of the law mandating the two lock system is to maintain election integrity. The law mandates there be Democrat lock with a key given to a Democrat keyholder and a separate lock with a key given to a Republican keyholder. While the intent of the law appears to stipulate that there only be one key per lock, Indiana Statute does not specifically state additional keys can or cannot exist.

You can read the entire statute below:

IC 3-11-10-10 Absentee ballots to be kept under two locks in cabinets, boxes, or room; security of keys

     Sec. 10. During the period that absentee ballots are being received, each county election board shall keep the ballots in cabinets, boxes, or a room upon which there are two (2) locks, one (1) for each of the appointed members of the board. Each day the absentee ballots shall be placed in the cabinets, boxes, or room under the direction of the appointed members of the board. If an appointed member cannot be present each day, then that member shall designate someone from the member’s political party to be present with the key to the lock at the time the ballots are secured and at the time the lock is opened the next day. The key of each appointed member of the board shall be kept secure in the manner determined by that appointed member.

REAL News Michiana reached out to Democrat County Clerk Rita Glenn, St. Joseph County GOP Chair Zach Potts and St. Joseph County Democrat Party Chair Diana Hess for statements in May. RNM did not receive statements from any of the officials.

CURRENT LAWSUITS

In a strange twist, Glenn and the Democrat member of the Election Board passed a resolution earlier this month, essentially absolving Glenn of any wrongdoing and giving her plenary power to handle absentee ballots without bipartisan observation, which is a blatant violation of state law.

Within days, the Indiana Republican Party filed a lawsuit against Glenn and the Democrat member of the county Election Board.

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