Monday, August 25, 2014

Drainage campaign committee formed

Posted By on Mon, Aug 25, 2014 at 10:45 AM

click to enlarge Heavy rains cause flooding that officials hope will be addressed with a new drainage authority up for a public vote on Nov. 4. - DEAN LUSE
  • Dean Luse
  • Heavy rains cause flooding that officials hope will be addressed with a new drainage authority up for a public vote on Nov. 4.

(This blog has been updated to clarify the roles of those involved in the drainage campaign.)

Robert Gardner and Amber Jack have set up a committee to campaign for the stormwater issue that will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Citizens for Responsible Stormwater Action was established on Thursday, two days after the Board of El Paso County Commissioners voted to submit to voters a measure that would create the Pikes Peak Regional Drainage Authority. The authority would levy fees on property owners based on impervious surface.

Back on Aug. 8, Administrative Law Judge Robert Spencer issued a 21-page decision levying $9,650 in penalties against a group for which Gardner and Sarah Jack, Amber Jack's mother-in-law, worked for failing to comply with the Fair Campaign Practices Act by failing to register as a political action committee and failing to file required contribution and expenditure reports.

The committee, Alliance for a Safe and Independent Woodmen Hills, had campaigned in the May 6 election regarding selection of board members for the Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District and mailed four postcards to 2,400 Woodmen Hills residents, Spencer said. The ruling ordered Gardner and Jack to file the necessary paperwork within 14 days. As of today, those filings have not been done.

Here's Spencer's decision:
WoodmenHillsFinding.pdf
Gardner says in an interview that he was the attorney for the Alliance group, which he says is a 501(c)(4), which means it doesn't have to file campaign finance reports unless it takes an advocacy role. "That's a First Amendment right, not to disclose your identity," he says. "Any organization only has to file if it does certain activities. We maintain they didn't do any of those things and the definition of political committee doesn't apply to us."

Sarah Jack was the director of the Alliance, he says.

Gardner says he filed a motion for a stay with the Colorado Court of Appeals on Friday and also filed a request to delay the effective date of the judge's decision.

Regardless, they're now running the campaign to convince voters in the Fountain Creek Watershed, which encompasses portions of the county, Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Green Mountain Falls and Fountain, to approve another government agency that will collect some $39 million annually.

Gardner says the committee clearly has a political goal — passage of the measure — and will file campaign reports to disclose donors to the campaign.

County commissioners are expected Tuesday to approve on second reading the drainage authority ballot measure. The typical homeowner reportedly would pay $7.70 per month to the district.

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