Nonprofit removes Facebook photos of political candidate

A Columbus nonprofit organization said that photos from a political candidate’s social media campaign page that ended up on one of its social media pages have been removed.

Two photos from the Facebook page of Kelly Benjamin, a candidate for Bartholomew Circuit Court judge, taken during a March 30 event hosted by Engage Columbus, were posted on Engage Columbus’ website March 31. The photos were of the International Tea event that Engage Columbus hosted, where Benjamin and others spoke about women in history, she said.

Engage Columbus, a program of Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, was created to make people feel welcome by connecting them to other people and resources.

Heritage Fund is a nonprofit organization that has tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service. Federal rules prohibit tax-exempt organizations from supporting political campaigns.

A participant in a photo — who was not an Engage Columbus staff member — saw photos from the event on the Engage Columbus Facebook page and tagged Benjamin in them. An automatic setting on Engage Columbus’ Facebook page allowed Benjamin’s Facebook campaign page with photo descriptions to also appear on the Engage Columbus Facebook page, said Tracy Souza, president and CEO of Heritage Fund.

“That was not something in our control. We have, however, removed the tags,” Souza said, adding that taggings now must be approved by an administrator.

Benjamin, also a Heritage Fund board member, said she was unaware that the photos had been on the Engage Columbus page until contacted Friday by The Republic.

Benjamin is running against fellow Columbus attorney Scott Andrews in the Republican primary for Bartholomew Circuit Court judge. The winner will be in line to replace Democrat Stephen Heimann, who is retiring at the end of his term in December.

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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at johannesen@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5639.