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Manor admin charged in campaign
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DARLINGTON - The administrator of the Lafayette Manor nursing home is facing a charge that she campaigned for a political ally while on the clock and through her work email.

Catherine A. Krentz, 60, Darlington, has an initial appearance scheduled Sept. 24 in Lafayette County Circuit Court on a forfeiture charge filed Thursday, Aug. 16, alleging she used her government position for her own gain.

The case against Krentz is based on an investigative report completed in May by Chief Jason King at the Darlington Police Department.

King received a tip April 17 from a former county employee alleging Krentz campaigned for the re-election of County Board Chairman Jack Sauer in 2011 while on duty at the Manor.

"Mr. Sauer is believed by some citizens to have been a primary supporter of Krentz ... during what was perceived by those citizens as being a very controversial time in Lafayette Manor's recent history," King summarized in the report.

The complainant initially filed in July 2011 with the Government Accountability Board (GAB), according to King. Months later, GAB staff counsel Mike Haas responded that the complaint needed instead to be filed with local authorities.

Through interviews and public-records requests, King found that Krentz filed paperwork during her normal working hours to establish a political action committee to re-elect Sauer, "Citizens for Truth in Government."

She also reportedly ordered campaign ads for Sauer in the Republican Journal newspaper while at work, during her normal working hours and using her Lafayette County email address.

The newspaper's ad manager, Rhonda Pehl, told King she picked up a check payment for the ad at Lafayette Manor, at Krentz's request.

King interviewed Krentz about the case May 29.

"Krentz explained that she and other department heads within the Manor shared a vested interest in Mr. Sauer's re-election," King wrote. "I learned they discussed how 'tragic' it would be if he got defeated and how it would affect them 'personally.'

"Krentz told me Mr. Sauer protects her reputation professionally as well as the reputation of Lafayette Manor; therefore, she and her team did not want to see him be defeated."

Krentz admitted to King that she sent campaign-related emails while at work.

King quotes her as saying, "They were done while at work. I mean, yah, because I wouldn't do that from home. So what, you going to put me in jail now?"

Krentz's alleged offense is a non-traffic ordinance violation, and as such, does not carry a penalty of jail time.