SALEM, Ind. — A contentious race for the Mayor of Salem Indiana is exposing what appears to be rampant statewide fraud in which unelected officials have been stealing taxpayer money for centuries. The thing is, the fraud doesn’t even concern Salem, a city of only approximately 6,300 people. Instead, it involves an the even smaller town of Hardinsburg — population: 219.
It turns out, Hardinsburg had considered itself an incorporated municipality for well over a century. It collected taxes. It submitted a budget to the state. It had a town board. There’s only a few problems — there’s no evidence that it was ever incorporated. And, the town had NEVER held an election in its 200 years of existence. Instead, the Town Board was completely self appointed. When one member would die or leave office, the remaining board members would simply appoint a family member or friend to take their place and taxpayer salary while providing little to no public services to the residents.
Believe it or not, Hardinsburg seems to be just the tip of the iceberg.
“(This is happening in) Well over 100 (towns) we believe.” J Davisson (R), former State Representative of District 73, said. “There are some towns in Indiana right now that literally have a population of 3 or 4 people and they’re getting a budget. I mean, they don’t even have enough people to fill the basic necessities of a government.”
So, where does Salem come into play?
J DAVISSON TAKES ON HARDINSBURG
Davisson is currently running for Mayor of the city in Washington County. However, as a state legislature, he was the man who took on the illegal government of Hardinsburg, eventually leading to it being dissolved just months ago.
“In the spring of last year, I was contacted by multiple people stating that there was a bunch of corruption down there. That they weren’t holding elections. Missing money. A whole laundry list of allegations.” Davisson said. “Once that came across my desk, I have an obligation to uphold our constitution and uphold our laws… What I found was in the town of Hardinsburg there was a big, big question mark as to if they were an incorporated town.”
Essentially, there is no real record showing a charter or incorporation. Adding to that, there had never been an election. So, with Davisson leading the way, he and the County Commissioners gave the town board an out — hold an election to maintain your incorporated status. However, the town board came back saying they could not afford an election and the town “government” was dissolved and is now governed by the county. It’s important to note, the town board had committed fraud every time it submitted a budget to the state since they have to declare they are ELECTED officials in those filings.
Now, Hardinsburg still exists. But, taxes have been lowered and there is one less layer of government that has to be dealt with. Mismanaged assets like a baseball park and senior living facility have been given to non-profits for better management. The townhall/fire department was given to the township fire department which was already using the facility anyway. To add to that, town could simply work toward incorporation again by starting with a petition of 10 percent of the population.
However, some folks from Hardinsburg are not happy. And they have now lended themselves to working against Davisson’s Mayoral bid in Salem through more illegal means.
ELECTION LAW VIOLATIONS
Last week, two citizens of Hardinsburg and another man who claims to own a business in the small town, sent letters to the residents of Salem, libeling Davisson and the situation in their town. That letter can be read below. In the process, it appears they also broke several election laws. It was this letter and subsequent complaint to the Washington County Election Board that initially caught the attention of REAL News Michiana.
In fact, Davisson’s complaint cites three violations, two of which are felonies.
First, he claims the letter violates IC 3-14-3 regarding election interference. The second claim states another felony was committed by the group for unlawfully influencing a candidate or voter.
The third election law to be violated is in regard to the claim on the letter that it was paid for by the Hardinsburg PAC. According to Davisson, that PAC was never registered with the county or the state.
The election board heard Davisson’s case Monday afternoon and decided to refer the first two claims to law enforcement for investigation for potential criminal charges. The board tabled their decision regarding the PAC registration charge until their next meeting scheduled on May 11th.
As for cleaning up what appears to be a state full of fraudulent “elected” officials in small towns scattered across Indiana, state lawmakers and county commissioners are going to have to pick up where Davisson left off, by simply dissolving those “governments” saving Hoosiers millions of dollars every year.
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