INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — As Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have made Indiana Ground Zero for negative advertising against their party opponent during the national GOP presidential campaign, Marion County republican leaders have taken what may be the unprecedented step of attacking one of their own in advance of next week’s primary election.
Longtime City County Councilman Jack Sandlin has squared off against former Councilman Jefferson Shreve for their party’s nomination to run for the Indiana Senate District 36 seat in Indianapolis.
Shreve is the choice of the local GOP leadership. Sandlin is not and the former top IPD commander said he is now paying the price after becoming the subject of a negative campaign originating from within his own party.
“Jack Sandlin. A history of nepotism and conflicts of interest,” reads a campaign flier urging republicans to, “vote no on career politician Jack Sandlin.”
“Paid for by MCRCC (Marion County Republican Central Committee), Jennifer Ping, Chair,” reads the small print disclaimer on the glossy full color two-sided oversize flier. “Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.”
Sandlin said he and his supporters are livid at the internal attack.
“I’m outraged that the Marion County republican chairman would attack me as a sitting member of the Indianapolis city county council,” said Sandlin. “In a political campaign it should be about things and reasons why you should vote for somebody, not why you should not vote for somebody, and all l’ve seen in the pieces like this is the negative aspects.”
The flier claims that Sandlin funneled a $40,000 contract to a company co-owned by his wife in the 1990s while he served as Perry Township trustee.
“I understand elections but this is not true, there’s no part of it that’s true,” said Sandlin, a former IPD Deputy Chief of Investigations who conducted several public corruption probes while assigned to the Marion County Grand Jury. “If I’m such a bad guy, why wasn’t this discovered a long time ago?”
Sandlin said the contract was let to his wife’s company before he ever took office.
Ping refused a request for an on-camera interview to explain her decision to lead the attack on one of her party’s leading local elected officials.
“This mailer references why Jack Sandlin has lost the trust of the Marion County Republican precinct committeemen and voters in State Senate district 36,” she wrote in an email statement. “It is a fact and voters deserve to know before Election Day.”
Sandlin said he is paying the price for refusing to fold his tent after party bosses chose Shreve to represent them during a February slating convention.
“I’m not the boy that they can influence,” said Sandlin. “The county chairwoman manages one of the largest lobbying organizations in Indianapolis and it just comes down to the fact that while she’s controlling the lobbying organization, she’s also controlling the candidates that she wants to lobby to. I think that’s unethical.”
Shreve did not return a call seeking comment.
Sandlin said he has also received surveillance video shot overnight in Perry Township that depicts the theft of his campaign signs along Banta Avenue.