Lindemuth, Emery campaign sign

A Lindemuth, Lindemuth and Emery campaign sign is seen in this photo taken in Elizabethtown on May 26, 2021. 

Republican candidates running for Elizabethtown Area school board violated the state's election code by failing to disclose campaign contributions, according to complaints filed with the Lancaster County Board of Elections and the Pennsylvania Department of State.

Gregory Paulson, a Lancaster-based attorney representing two Democrats also running for the school board, filed two complaints this month claiming Republican candidates James Emery, Danielle and Stephen Lindemuth and incumbent Jim Read illegally distributed signs across the Elizabethtown area without filing necessary paperwork revealing who purchased them and for how much.

Since the complaints were made, the Republicans have rectified the issue by amending campaign finance reports and creating a political action committee whose name was added to some of the signs in question, the county elections board confirmed to LNP | LancasterOnline this week. Campaign finance records filed with the county this month also back that up.

Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams said she is not always made aware of campaign finance complaints, including the ones in this case, so no charges were filed.

Before the primary in May, campaign yard signs for the Lindemuths and Emery began popping up in Elizabethtown. The signs read “Vote Real Republicans” and “Paid for by Doug Lamb.”

Lamb is the owner of Doug Lamb Construction in West Donegal Township. He and Donald Lamb run the faith-based nonprofit Partnership for Revival, which chartered buses from Lancaster County to then-President Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C. That rally gave rise to a violent insurrection of the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the presidential election results. Danielle Lindemuth, who is the nonprofit’s secretary, and her husband, Stephen Lindemuth, attended that trip.

The Lambs are pastors at Elizabethtown’s LifeGate Church, where Emery occasionally preaches.

Neither the candidates nor Doug Lamb submitted campaign finance paperwork with the county disclosing how much Doug Lamb donated for the signs, one of Paulson’s complaints states and county records show. On Oct. 6, two days after the complaint was filed, the Republicans filed an amended report citing a $420.93 in-kind contribution from May 3 for yard signs, county records show.

Doug Lamb did not respond to a request for comment.

In late September, yard signs for Emery, the Lindemuths and Read were distributed across the school district, Paulson’s other complaint, also dated Oct. 4, states. The signs said they were paid for by “FRIENDS OF THE CADIDATES” -- a misspelling of the word candidates.

The Republicans didn’t register “FRIENDS OF THE CADIDATES” as a political action committee prior to their distribution, the complaint states and county records show.

Since then, the Republican candidates put stickers over “FRIENDS OF THE CADIDATES” on the signs with a newly formed political action committee, or PAC, called Back to Basics in E-Town Schools PAC. Paperwork registering the PAC was filed with the county elections office Oct. 7.

Related campaign finance filings from the most recent reporting period, spanning from early June to mid-October, show that PAC received $680 in contributions, spent $40 and has $959 in unpaid debts and obligations.

Contributions came from husband and wife Donald and Nanette Lamb ($240 each), and Michael D. Spangler and Faye J. Fittery ($100 each). The $40 expenditure went to Michael D. Spangler for a post office rental fee. The unpaid expenses listed were $588.44 in yard signs and $371.49 for an undisclosed purchase. The creditor for those purchases: Danielle Lindemuth.

Emery and Danielle Lindemuth declined to comment for this story. Stephen Lindemuth could not be reached for comment. Read, who is seeking a second term on the school board, told a reporter he had no role in the campaign decisions. He simply signed the papers he was asked to sign, he said. He acknowledged his slate resolved the issues mentioned in the Democrats’ complaints.

Read said he doesn’t even have his own campaign sign in his yard.

“I’m not a big campaigner. I’ve never been one to sell myself. I never have been,” he said, adding that he’s not as dedicated to winning as other candidates.

Kristy Moore, a Democrat running for Elizabethtown Area school board who also serves as the Elizabethtown Democratic Committee leader, said the school board needs members who will follow the rules.

"Every day, I teach my children and my students about the importance of following the rules,” Moore, a public school teacher, said in an email. “School directors are entrusted with our tax dollars and our children's education. We want leaders who will follow the rules, do right by our students, and steer clear of mistakes that will cost the families and tax payers of Etown."

Together, Moore and fellow Democratic candidate Sarah Zahn’s PACs raised nearly $10,200 in the most recent reporting period; their combined expenditures totaled about $9,100. Listed among the contributions was an in-kind contribution from Paulson, the lawyer, for $900. Moore confirmed that Paulson did not give her $900; he gave $900 worth of legal services at no charge.

Read the complaints:

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