News and Tribune

September 20, 2013

Clark County sheriff candidate suspends campaign

Donor accuses Chuck Adams of offering him no-show job in exchange for more money, which Adams denies

By MATT KOESTERS
matt.koesters@newsandtribune.com

JEFFERSONVILLE — Larry Brooks dreamed of having a police car and a badge. He dreamed of being able to do police work on the weekends, speeding without getting pulled over and parking on the sidewalk at the mall.

That’s why the millionaire owner of local trucking and fleet maintenance companies says he was donating to the campaign of Chuck Adams, a Clark County sheriff’s major who announced Friday he was suspending his 2014 campaign for sheriff after the News and Tribune contacted him about Brooks’ allegations.

Brooks said Adams offered him a lot more than what he had hoped for in return for campaign contributions.

A no-show, $70,000-per-year job as Adams’ chief deputy if he won was what Adams offered him, Brooks alleges. Adams just asked that Brooks open his wallet and give him more — up to $60,000 more. What Adams didn’t know is that Brooks didn’t trust him, and decided to turn on the recorder on his cell phone during the face-to-face, Feb. 14, 2012, conversation.

“I had bad vibes about it,” Brooks said. “I talked around the county, and he was [going to be] the winner. I don’t think he is anymore, but he was the winner.”

Adams issued a written statement to the News and Tribune in response to Brooks’ allegations, accepting responsibility for failure to follow Indiana campaign finance rules, but stating that while he did have conversations with Brooks about the possibility of employment in an Adams-run sheriff’s department, he never offered Brooks ghost employment.

“I am not a politician,” Adams wrote. “I am a career police officer with more than 30 years’ experience in law enforcement. I admit I made mistakes. I regret my mistakes, and am sorry.”

In addition to his responses to Brooks’ claims and his apology, Adams announced via the statement that he is suspending his campaign.

“I want to thank my family, friends, and co-workers for their support of me and my candidacy,”  Adams wrote.



THE CONVERSATION

Brooks, a one-time reserve officer with the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, said the 2012 conversation he recorded took place in person in Adams’ office at the Clark County Sheriff’s Department at the Clark County Government Building.

Using an iPhone 4S, Brooks activated an application that records audio in the vicinity of the phone. Brooks said Adams initially made the offer of ghost employment before Brooks had activated the recorder application.

“Do the numbers, and — it doesn’t really matter, though,” Adams said. “Still, you get to make $70,000 for eight years. That’s five-hundred and — that’s half a million dollars for doing nothing.”

“Not sure, but for the retirement — that’s worth it,” Brooks responded. “That’s big.”

“Hell, you may want to run after that,” Adams said.

At another point in the conversation, Adams outlined his plans for how the sheriff’s department would operate if he were to be elected.

“Then you could just let Brian Meyer run it,” Brooks said.

“He will,” Adams responded. “I’m just letting him do all of the uniform stuff, then I’ve got someone, I want Kramer in charge of my detectives. [inaudible]. ... I’ll let him run that, and I’ll let J.T. have the SWAT team and all of that [stuff] he likes to do.”

“And just give me the chief’s job,” Brooks said. “I won’t have to do nothing, just answer to you.”

“Yeah,” Adams said, “we’ll go play golf.”

“Now you’re talking,” Brooks said. “That’d work out. That’d keep me pretty basic, keep me out of all that bull. I won’t have to mess with it. Plus, it’ll set me up for down the road. I never thought about that part of it.”

“Think about it,” Adams said. “Because I owe you, man. Without you, I couldn’t do this. I could, but it’d be a lot harder. I couldn’t do it as well, and I don’t want to go —”

“We’ll go first class,” Brooks said, interrupting.

“All out,” Adams said.

“We will,” Brooks reassured him.

“I don’t want to be [expletive] spray-painting my signs,” Adams said.

Adams denied that he had offered Brooks a job, but acknowledged that he had discussed employment opportunities with Brooks in a potential Adams-run sheriff’s department.

“Finally, with respect to the alleged job offer, I can say without question that there was never any job offer made to Mr. Brooks, or any other person,” Adams wrote. “Mr. Brooks, like many other individuals, did ask me about possible employment opportunities in my administration should my campaign for sheriff be successful.

“I knew Mr. Brooks was a businessman and discussed with him several potential positions with my administration should I be successful in my campaign. This conversation was recorded without my knowledge more than one-and-a-half years ago. Again, no position was ever offered to him.”



THE CONTRIBUTIONS

Brooks paid for 2,534 T-shirts screen printed with Adams’ campaign logo, purchased from Thunder Sportswear, Jeffersonville, for a total order worth $6,335. He paid for 1,008 hats from Pezeo 1 Promos Direct, Louisville, embroidered with an Adams for Sheriff 2014 logo, for $5,977.86. The shirts were purchased Sept. 19, 2011, while the hats were bought April 21, 2011. Brooks provided the News and Tribune with canceled checks showing his company paid for the orders.

Brooks provided the News and Tribune one hat and one shirt. Adams and others supporting his campaign can be seen wearing identical garments in numerous photos on Adams’ campaign Facebook page.

Adams reported the contributions to the Clark County Board of Elections Wednesday, Sept. 18, according to a board of elections employee. Adams reported the in-kind campaign contributions from Skyler Inc. on a CFA-4 form, a report of receipts and expenditures of a political committee, and also notes on the front page of the form that he paid back Skyler Inc. for both in-kind donations.

“First, as to the in-kind contributions made by Mr. Brooks for the purchase of hats and shirts, I admit, as a first-time candidate for public office, I should have taken more care to ensure my campaign committee accurately and timely filed required reportings,” Adams wrote in his statement.

Adams still has not filed a CFA-1 form, which is required of all political candidates within 10 days of becoming a candidate, according to Clark County Board of Elections records.

Title 3 of Indiana Code governs campaign finances. Per Indiana Code 3-5-2-6, an individual becomes a “candidate” when the individual receives more than $100 in contributions or makes more than $100 in expenditures. Indiana Code requires that candidates who receive more than $100 from any single contributor or spend more than $100 on their campaign must file a CFA-1, a statement or organization, within 10 days. Fines of $50 per day late, up to a maximum of $1,000, can be imposed upon a candidate by the local board of elections.

“The board can reduce that by unanimous consent if they think it’s unjust to the circumstances,” said Dale Simmons, general counsel to the Indiana Election Division.

Additionally, Indiana Code 3-9 states that a person who fails to file a report with the proper offices commits a class B misdemeanor.

Brooks also contributed $3,795 for the purchase of the grand-champion steer at the 2012 Clark County 4-H Fair Livestock Auction, he said, to help Adams’ campaign. Businesses and organizations often purchase 4-H auction animals as a public relations gesture and to raise money for 4-H.

Brooks provided the News and Tribune with a canceled check for the amount made out to 4-H and a photo of himself, Adams, John Martin and Martin’s champion steer.

Skyler Inc., Dale Curry and Martin Landscaping won the champion steer, according to a representative with the Clark County Purdue Extension Office. Adams said Brooks’ claim that Adams was involved in the purchase of the steer was “simply false.”

“The steer was not purchased by me or my campaign committee,” Adams said in the statement. “Neither I nor my campaign committee received anything from the purchase or sale of the steer.”

Additionally, Adams’ CFA-4 form shows he has received $13,030.53 in unitemized contributions, which are contributions from multiple entities that each totaled less than $100. That means that more than 130 people have contributed less than $100 to his campaign to date.



WHY DO THIS?

Brooks says he decided to come forward because his relationship with Adams deteriorated during summer 2012, when Brooks was attempting to recover a car for which he had received the deed as collateral for a loan he made to a contractor who worked for him. He said Adams — despite being asked for assistance multiple times — did not help him recover the vehicle, a 1990 Chevrolet Blazer. Brooks says he still hasn’t recovered the vehicle.

Brooks’ relationship with Adams had cooled, but it was revelations that led to a text exchange between Brooks and Adams in July 2013 that destroyed the friendship, Brooks said. Adams tried to get Brooks’ girlfriend to send him risqué pictures, he said.

In a profanity-laced text message July 8, Brooks accused Adams of trying to get a thrill from his girlfriend.

“I gave you almost 20 thousand dollars and talked for you like a brother,” Brooks wrote to Adams. “What I got in return was you lusting after my 30 year old girl friend and taking advantage of her emotions. Then catch her drunk and try to get a thrill. She would have never had anything physicall [sic] to do with you.”

The number Brooks texted that message to was the same number the News and Tribune used to contact Adams for comment for this story.

“Larry, I owe you an apology for what I’ve done,” Adams wrote in a text replying to Brooks. “I will pay you back the money over time if you want. I understand your anger and can’t blame you, not even for how you want revenge. I am truly sorry. I can’t fix it, only apologize to you.”

Adams declined to address the issue in his statement.

“Any allegations concerning Mr. Brooks’ girlfriend do not merit a public response,” Adams wrote.

Brooks admits that at one time he was tempted by the deal Adams allegedly offered him, but had no need for money from the sheriff’s department. He said he realized what kind of man Adams is after Adams’ indiscretions and failure to do police work on Brooks’ behalf. Brooks says he offered Adams a chance to avoid having these allegations revealed to the public.

“I offered him and his wife Lory, I told them both, get out of the sheriff’s race, put in your retirement, get completely out of the sheriff’s department,” Brooks said. “You’ve got enough years to retire. You’re a no-good cop, you’re going to be a no-good sheriff. This county doesn’t deserve you.”