INDIANAPOLIS--Former state senator Brent Waltz was sentenced to 10 months in prison and ordered to pay back $40,500 in illegally-obtained campaign funds. Waltz pleaded guilty to two felonies for the way he got the money for his 2016 campaign for Congress.
Waltz, according to federal court documents, conspired with political consultant Kelly Rogers to funnel contributions from Indiana casino company New Centaur by using straw contributors, who got the money and each contributed $2,700 to Waltz’s campaign.
Waltz pleaded guilty in April to lying to the FBI and receiving conduit contributions, or money funneled illegally from the corporation to the campaign.
Waltz had asked for probation and community service. Federal prosecutors saw Waltz get the sentenced they had asked the judge to give him.
But, Waltz, though contrite in court, told IndyPolitics Wednesday afternoon, after the sentencing, that he believes the FBI and Dept. of Justice went after him because of his political affiliations.
“The government’s been on a jihad for conservatives ever since Donald Trump was elected, maybe even a little bit before,” he told Abdul-Hakim Shabazz. “In this case they really weren’t after me. They were after a man named Rod Ratcliff, who was the former chairman of a casino company called Centaur, [and] who happened to be Donald Trump’s campaign finance chairman for Indiana.”
Waltz said Ratcliff had been scrutinized for years by state and federal authorities. In 2021 he permanently surrendered his license to operate casinos in Indiana because federal authorities believed he was involved in the same scheme for which Waltz was convicted.
Waltz also disputed his actions constituted the crime for which he was convicted, conduit contributions.
“They looked through all of my tax records, all of my business records and they found two transactions. Two, that could have been interpreted as conduit contributions.”
Waltz said he pled guilty because of the sentence he may have received, had he gone to trial and lost.
“The government was looking at potentially years of federal prison they were going to sentence me to, and not the kind of Martha Stewart camp cupcake that I’ll probably end up with for a few months,” he said, adding that during the sentencing hearing he had much to say, but kept quiet.
“They made mistakes. If you correct that then you don’t show proper contrition, you don’t show proper remorse. You’re trying to minimize what you’ve done,” he said. “But, if you don’t correct it then the judge gets potentially, the wrong opinion of what actually happened.”
Waltz said the charges for which he pleaded guilty make no sense because he could have contributed that amount to his campaign many times over. So, there was no need to violate federal campaign laws to get what he called a small amount of money. The government maintained during the proceedings that Waltz knew of the conspiracy and willingly participated.
Waltz maintains the reason for his arrest and conviction is political.
“And, if the Republicans win back the House, perhaps they’ll invite me to testify on Capitol Hill. I’m gonna have a lot to say.”