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CARMEL, Ind. — The final weeks before the mayor’s primary election in Carmel are quickly winding down, but a new issue is popping up and raising questions.

It centers on a series of emails between Mayor Jim Brainard and the city’s clerk treasurer, Christine Pauley.

When something as emotionally charged as this that comes out in this timing and then it seems to be motivated by political means for it to a political end,” Nancy Heck, the director of community relations and economic development for Carmel, said.

“I’m shocked. Politics? Yes, it’s political. It’s, there’s an election. She wants the voters of Carmel to know who they’re voting for,” Tim Stoesz, an attorney representing Pauley on the matter, said.

Brainard said the two saw each other socially in early 2016. Pauley’s attorney said they did not have a romantic relationship, and that Pauley was trying to cultivate a professional one.

“Clearly he was acting in a manner that was to hide his behavior, and I think that he may have approached a line or maybe even stepped over a line that he should not have,” Stoesz said.

A series of emails published in the Indianapolis Star show some communication. Pauley told the paper in part, “It’s irresponsible, and his behavior is not appropriate for someone leading a city of our size, and citizens should expect better.”

In one email published, dated from March 2016, Brainard invites Pauley to Rome where he was speaking at a conference and sent an itinerary. “It could be our special secret : ),” Brainard wrote. Pauley replied no, and the mayor stated he wouldn’t ask again. But an email two months later provided to the paper shows Brainard sending her information about a resort.

Brainard states Pauley asked him to take her to events before and after the March email.

“Hey you know here’s where I’m speaking and then she says I would love to go then he lays out this plan of how it would work. So for her to act like I can’t believe he invited me… it’s just when you see everything as a whole it’s clear there was a relationship going on there, their personal lives, I don’t know what all was going on with that, but for her to claim that there was nothing is just not true,” Heck said.

Heck said the mayor has never been anything but professional. The city released its own series of emails. It shows Pauley asking the mayor to drive over to an event together, stating “I just might have to tag along as your Michigan connection” in response to Brainard’s email about a speaking engagement in Troy and stating “I would love to go!” in response to an email from Brainard in Feb. 2016 about the conference in Rome.

Mayor Jim Brainard released this statement:

After I was legally separated at the end of 2015 from my wife of almost 30 years, Ms. Pauley and I saw each other socially for a short time in early 2016 after she took office. It was a mutual and equal relationship. She repeatedly asked me to take her to events before and after the March 26th email.  It is interesting timing, that after three years, the Glenn campaign has brought this out two weeks before the primary election. This is clearly a premeditated attack on my character meant to divert voters’ attention from the real issues of the campaign.

“In the era of the ‘Me Too’ movement, Mayor Brainard’s lack of comprehension of the word ‘no’ is extremely disturbing. Regardless of the circumstances or situation that these emails exist, the fact that Ms. Pauley repeatedly said no should have been enough for Jim Brainard to cease his efforts in pursuing her,” Fred Glynn, challenging Brainard in the election, said in a statement. “As a father of a beautiful and intelligent young woman, I am embarrassed and ashamed of the actions of this elected representative of Carmel.”

The emails came out shortly before Carmel’s City Council held a special meeting Tuesday evening after the director of internal controls in the clerk treasurer’s office was dismissed. Councilors questioned Pauley and the former employee about the office’s ability to respond to the State Board of Accounts during its annual city audit in a timely manner.