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Tweet confusion at Secretary of State

The big mystery at the Indiana Secretary of State's Office this week is who exactly is running the official state Twitter page for Secretary of State Connie Lawson.

On Friday morning, a tweet asked people to "please follow my campaign @VoteConnie for updates on our 2014 race! Please "like" our campaign Facebook page: VoteConnie."

The Times of Northwest Indiana sought answers to questions about using official state resources for campaign purposes and whether it was a violation of the Indiana Code of Ethics, which prohibits executive branch officials and employees from engaging in political activity while on duty or acting in an official capacity.

The answer was confusing, though.

First, the spokeswoman for the office said Lawson posted the message using her personal iPhone. The staffer deleted the tweet quickly.

Later, Lawson denied posting anything to the Twitter page.

Spokeswoman Valerie Kroeger told The Journal Gazette Monday morning that they determined a staff person posted the tweet Friday from the office.

"We are trying to drive campaign activity away from official accounts," she said. "We are dealing with it internally. We are going to take steps to tighten control over the Twitter account."

Interestingly, a Senate email sent out last week - before the issue with the Secretary of State - notes a new law that makes such activity a crime starting July 1.

The new law says a government employee may not knowingly or intentionally use government property to solicit a contribution or advocate for the election of defeat of a candidate or public question.

A violation of the new section is a misdemeanor on first offense and a Class D felony the second time around.

"Please be very careful to not violate this law - including any use of Senate iPads, laptops, or phones (mobile or landline), even outside work hours," the email said.

The law does have an exception for administrative duties carried out under the direction of an elected official.

To contact Niki Kelly email her at nkelly@jg.net or follow her on Twitter @nkellyatJG.

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