Article by Chelsea Los,
David Kolbe, candidate for Indiana State Representative, District 22, filed a formal complaint with the Indiana Election Commission against his opponent, Curt Nisly, on Aug. 18 this year. Kolbe alleged that Nisly was using his business, C-Tech Solutions, to gain an unfair advantage in the District 22 campaign, along with an alleged conflict of interest concerning his wife’s membership at the Elkhart County Vote Center. Kolbe also referenced preliminary finance reports obtained to show that HS enterprises LLC was paid for the redesign of the county clerk’s website, with Andrew Gould as both the principal of HS Enterprises LLC and the general manager of Curt Nisly’s personal business, C-Tech Solutions. Kolbe alleges that HS Enterprises is not a registered LLC, determined by obtaining records from the Indiana Secretary of State, and furthermore, alleges that this redesign of the website created a direct link to Nisly’s campaign website and Facebook page.
Curt Nisly took the opportunity to respond to these allegations on Sept. 18. Nisly began by providing a timeline of the county clerk website redesign, stating that September 2013 began the discussions of the website, followed by a mock up of the website on Oct. 3, and an invoice to the Elkhart Country Clerk in December 2013. Nisly did not announce his candidacy for Indiana State Representative until Jan. 21, 2014, according to his letter.
Nisly acknowledges the functioning link on the county clerk website to C-Tech Solutions, Inc., but says, “At no time was there a direct link from the Elkhart County Clerk website to the campaign website, CurtNisly.com, to the campaign Facebook page, nor to the platform for campaign donations…”
Nisly counters that once County Clerk Wendy Hudson informed him that the link needed to be broken, his staff had severed the website link by 5:30 a.m. the next morning. Nisly states that since there is no connection between his company, C-Tech Solutions, and the technology associated with the Elkhart Vote Centers where his wife, Mary, is employed, there is no impropriety or conflict of interest as alleged by opponent David Kolbe. Nisly states that he, “received [his own] information on registered voters in Elkhart County…using methods that are readily available to any candidate.” Nisly wraps up his response by stating that any further information required can be obtained by contacting him personally.
Elkhart County Clerk, Wendy Hudson, also addressed the formal complaint against Curt Nisly on Sept. 10. Hudson states that when the website redesign began, the Elkhart County Clerk’s office reached out to multiple local web design businesses, with C-Tech Solutions as the only respondent. Hudson states that the meeting between her Chief Deputy, Christopher Anderson, Office Manager of Voter Registration Chad Clingerman and C-tech Solutions President Curt Nisly took place on Sept. 30, 2013, “prior to [the County Clerk’s Office] having any knowledge that Mr. Nisly intended to be a candidate for public office.” Hudson writes that she was aware of a C-Tech Solutions logo placed at the bottom of their county clerk website, but that herself and her staff were unaware that it contained any link whatsoever.
Hudson states that she became aware of the link to Curt Nisly’s business website on Aug. 13, 2014, and had text message communication with Mary Nisly, Curt Nisly’s wife on that same day, asking to be contacted. Curt Nisly contacted Hudson that evening, and was directed to sever the link. Nisly reportedly confirmed the broken link at 8 a.m. the next morning.
Hudson also addressed the issue of unfair advantages in obtaining voter information for Nisly’s campaign, concluding that she is “aware of no unfair advantage that Candidate Nisly could have exploited,” after referencing the knowledge of her IT staff and the information that is provided from their website analytics.
Hudson summarizes by saying, “…we had no inclination that Candidate Nisly would be a candidate for public office at the time we contracted with C-Tech Solutions, we had no knowledge that our website contained a link to the C-Tech Solutions website until after 9 p.m. on Aug. 13; we immediately demanded that the link be broken….I can discern no unfair advantage gained by Candidate Nisly…”