Ireland opponents to face secretary of state
The recall election might not be over for opponents of County Commissioner Mick Ireland – in fact, the real “campaign” might just be starting.
Public Counsel of the Rockies, the nonprofit that donated legal services in the fight to keep the Immigration and Naturalization Service from opening up a detention facility in Carbondale, is on the verge of filing a complaint with the Colorado secretary of state alleging violations of state and county campaign laws in the recall election against Ireland held in August.
“Over the course of the summer, our board unanimously endorsed ongoing, in-depth investigation into compliance with Colorado’s Fair Campaign Practices Act,” said Tim McFlynn, a local attorney who sits on the board at Public Counsel of the Rockies. “The support for a complaint is there. We have already completed most of the investigation and expect to move within 10 days.”
McFlynn declined to reveal any details about the pending complaint. But his comments in an interview yesterday indicated that it would, at least in part, raise issue with alleged violations of disclosure rules. “Year by year in Pitkin County, there are more and more flagrant violations of campaign disclosure rules,” he said.
The Common Sense Alliance, a local political action committee with libertarian leanings, has openly flaunted the disclosure laws by refusing to file forms that name its contributors on various campaigns or the amounts they donate. The group took out advertisements last spring urging people to support the recall of Ireland.
But the group has plenty of other possible violations to work with. The Committee to Recall Mick Ireland took $500 donations made in the names of at least two people who had no idea who Ireland is or what he does, in an apparent attempt to skirt the county’s individual contribution limits. The recall committee also refused to comply with the county’s spending limit of $12,547 per campaign.
Then there are organizations like the Pitkin County Builders Association, a group formed last winter to oppose the six-month development moratorium imposed in January while the county revised the growth management section of the land use code. The builders association, which was run out of developer Steve Hansen’s office at the Airport Business Center, took out half-page advertisements supporting Ireland’s recall. Hansen was quoted in The Aspen Times earlier this summer saying that the group had no intention of complying with campaign disclosure rules.
Ireland has also raised questions about the truthfulness of the information contained on the disclosure forms filed by the recall committee. How, for instance, did the committee pay less than $5,000 for glossy mailers designed and sent to voters via first-class mail by a Denver design firm?
Said McFlynn, “We don’t know yet what we’re going to do with what we’ve learned.”
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