8 Indicted in Indiana on Vote-Buying Charges
Eight people were indicted Friday on charges of buying votes for Democratic candidates in three elections in Indiana, apparently including a hotly disputed congressional contest that was decided by four votes, the Justice Department announced.
The 22-count indictment lists 18 instances of vote buying in the 1984 general election, some of it in Crawford County, part of which lies in the 8th Congressional District. In that year, the 8th District race was the closest in the nation, with Democratic incumbent Frank McCloskey eventually being declared the winner over Republican Richard D. McIntyre by four votes.
Can’t Affect Outcome
U.S. Atty. John D. Tinder said that the investigation would not affect the outcome of the race because “the seating of a member of Congress is the sole province of the House of Representatives.”
After two state recounts favored McIntyre, the Democratic-controlled House conducted its own count and declared McCloskey the winner in May, 1985, setting off a storm of protest from Republicans. McIntyre and McCloskey will face each other again in this year’s general election.
The indictments, issued by a federal grand jury, do not specify whether the Crawford County votes had been purchased in the 8th District. However, Tinder said he would assume that some of the ballots were from that district.
The other elections involved in the investigation were the 1982 general election and the 1984 Democratic primary. Voters were paid for casting ballots for the entire Democratic slate in the three elections, Tinder said.
FBI Uncovered Data
Tinder said that more information on the number of votes bought will come out at trial. The information, uncovered during an investigation by the FBI, could not be turned over to the House until after the trial, Tinder said.
The eight people indicted include one present and one former county commissioner, a Democratic precinct committeeman and a county highway superintendent. The maximum penalty for each count is five years’ imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
Tinder said the group raised about $7,000 by soliciting funds from candidates, holding fund-raisers and obtaining loans from individuals or financial institutions.
$35 Paid for Votes
The going rate for a vote was $15 to $35, Tinder said.
“Anybody who is familiar with politics in southern Indiana knows it’s a practice that didn’t begin in 1982,” he said. He noted that two people were convicted in 1981 of vote buying in neighboring Orange County.
Those indicted are to appear before a federal magistrate next week, Tinder’s office said.