TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. – Incumbent Prosecutor Patrick Harrington said he's sticking to a positive message based on his record in office but his opponent, Earl McCoy released a video on Facebook claiming otherwise.
For months, Earl McCoy has released several campaign videos attacking Prosecutor Patrick Harrington's record. But a recent one takes a different approach.
"I have been informed that my opponent plans to launch a personal attack against my character," said McCoy in the video. "In fact, he has already launched a smear campaign thinly disguised as a poll."
Harrington denies those claims. He said McCoy's video is nothing more than a political bait-and-switch tactic.
"This is a well organized negative campaign out there that's based upon deception and lies," said Harrington.
Harrington said he never planned to release anything negative about his opponent. That poll McCoy was referring to was a phone survey of 250 people in Tippecanoe County. Harrington said it contained both positive and negative information about both candidates but it found voters here don't like negative campaigns.
"When someone doesn't have their own message and vision and own accomplishments to talk about, they go negative," said Harrington.
That's why Harrington said he's focusing his campaign on his own record. But in the video, McCoy said Harrington is planning to embarrass him about his criminal history.
"I am not proud of the fact that I have been convicted of misdemeanors," said McCoy in the video. "I am, however, very proud of the way I learned from my mistakes and I turned my life around."
McCoy doesn't say what he did in 1989 but we found it online. Court records show when McCoy was 20 years old, he was charged with a C Felony but pleaded guilty to Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated While having a prior conviction for Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated, which is an A Misdemeanor.
"Some political advisors said I should expunge my criminal history to hide it from the public," said McCoy in the video. "I deliberately chose not to, I've not tried to hide anything."
McCoy also came clean about tax concerns, claiming Harrington was planning to bring those to light as well.
"It is true that I have had some tax issues that arose as a result of my law practice going from a sole proprietorship to a partnership and then back to a sole proprietorship. As a result of two separate employer tax identification numbers being on record, I was being taxed twice," explained McCoy in the video.
According to public tax records, McCoy has had repetitive issues in federal, state, and county taxes for the past decade. His most recent tax warrant was paid off Wednesday for $6,461.05.
"I do not owe any back taxes," said McCoy in the recording. "My accountants have issued a statement reaffirming that these issues have been resolved and that these issues have absolutely no bearing on my legal ability or fitness for office."
McCoy said he was unable to meet with News 18 on camera Wednesday or Thursday.
When and if he does agree to go on camera, we plan to ask McCoy about his taxes to try and confirm some conflicting data in public records.
We hope to bring you that story in the coming weeks.
Correction Posted April 6, 2018: McCoy was charged with a Class D Felony, not a Class C Felony as this original story states. Online public records show the charge was a Class C Felony, however, that is a mistake. According to Tippecanoe County Clerk Christa Coffey, in the 1980s, criminal charges were classified as C-F cases. In the transition from paper documents to online documents, the charge carried through as a C Felony because of that classification. However, the original probable cause confirms McCoy's charge was a Class D Felony.