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Vigo County Prosecutor accepts questionable campaign contributions.

Campaign finance reports submitted by Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt on October 19th, 2022, showed that the incumbent prosecutor received donations from the Vigo County Sheriff’s Commissary Fund, a local defense attorney, and a church.

The campaign finance report which can be viewed in it’s entirety here, showed that Modesitt accepted a $500 direct contribution from the Vigo County Sheriff’s Commissary Fund on June 7th, 2022, which is prohibited under Indiana Code 36-8-10-21.

According to state code the Sheriff’s Commissary Fund is only to be used for a limited number of reasons including, “merchandise for resale to inmates through the commissary and expenses of operating the commissary, including, but not limited to, facilities and personnel.”

Modesitt also accepted a direct contribution of $650 dollar from the Ellis law firm on June 8th, 2022. While prosecutors accepting campaign contributions from criminal defense lawyers is not illegal, there is growing concern about the practice.

On June 14th, 2022, Modesitt accepted a direct contribution of $650 from “West Terre Haute Community Church Inc. DBA (Doing Business As) West Side Community Church.” A search for tax exempt organizations did reveal that West Terre Haute Community did receive a 501(c)(3) designation in 2011.

According to the IRS website, “Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

At the time of this articles publication Modesitt’s campaign finance report is not available on the Vigo County website. Reports for Modesitt’s challenger Johnny Vaughn are available, but appear to be incomplete.

The prosecutor’s office, the clerk’s office, and the churches involved have all been contacted for comment. Modesitt stated that he has an accountant that handles his campaign finances and he does not believe any of the contributions were prohibited.

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