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Did Dombkowski's cell usage violate election law?

Tippecanoe County Sheriff candidate Jason Dombkowski may be violating an Indiana election law.

Posted: Apr. 27, 2018 7:20 PM
Updated: Apr. 27, 2018 11:48 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - Tippecanoe County Sheriff candidate Jason Dombkowski may be violating an Indiana election law.

According to Indiana law, candidates are not allowed to use government resources for campaigning. Dombkowski has been using his West Lafayette Police Department phone for election-related texts and calls.

The contact number listed on Jason Dombkowski's campaign finance report belongs to his phone paid for by the West Lafayette Police Department. We brought the issue to his attention Thursday.


"We immediately amended the report and filed it that same day with the voter registration office," said Roland Winger, campaign chair for the Jason Dombkowski for Sheriff Committee. 

"Do you know how that happened?" asked News 18's Kayla Sullivan. 

"It was just a clerical error where the treasurer looked up a number and listed the wrong one," responded Winger. 

News 18 realized Dombkowski's WLPD number was the same one he had been using for months to contact WLFI for campaign related purposes.

Dombkowski chose not to go on camera or answer specific questions about it but he did provide a statement over the phone through his personal number.

"Kayla, I have two cell phones which I carry with me at all times," said Dombkowski. "One is a city phone and one is my private phone. Despite the huge call volume I get daily, I've always tried to keep their use separate. I've never knowingly used a city phone for campaign purposes."

Indiana law states a government employee may not knowingly or intentionally use government property for campaign-related purposes. If official complaints are filed, it could be investigated and sent to a special prosecutor to decide. This violation is listed as a Class A Misdemeanor.

You may remember something similar in 2014, when Indiana State Police investigated a campaign email Tippecanoe County Superior 4 Judge Gregory Donat sent from his taxpayer-owned computer. He apologized for it, calling the incident a mental lapse. No charges were ever filed in that case. Dombkowski is claiming the same and has offered up a monetary fix.

"In order to make my intentions clear, I have reimbursed the city for the full cost of the city phone since October of 2016, when I first announced my campaign exploratory committee," said Dombkowski. 

We requested a copy of that receipt and a record of the phone bill for those months.

According to those documents, Dombkowski ended up paying the city $693.45.

So far, no official complaints have been filed to state police or the Tippecanoe County Election Board.

We will continue following this story for any updates.

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