Thursday, February 19, 2015

Election Edition 2/19/15

Posted By on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 at 10:44 AM

Douglas Bruce, author of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, has filed two complaints with Colorado Springs City Clerk Sarah Johnson regarding the April 7 city election.

One deals with the campaign finance filing of Colorado Springs Government Watch, a nonprofit that funded the petition drive to recall Councilor Helen Collins. We wrote about its finance report here. The report stated that funding for the recall, $14,122, was given to Government Watch Issue Committee by Government Watch's general treasury.

Writes Bruce, "Their first report shows they donated the money to themselves. That is not a true disclosure.
Citizens are entitled to know where the money came from originally. The report should disclose when the bank account was opened."

He also notes that one contribution was dated in December, which means the report, filed on Wednesday, is late in violation of city rules. 

Bruce's other complaint alleges mayoral candidate John Suthers, former Colorado attorney general, has received free office space for his campaign, which should have been reported but hasn't been. "Whether listed as a loan, contribution in kind, or expense, the rental arrangement at 214 N. Tejon should have been disclosed from the start. See the Suthers website listing past and future Events and Open Houses at that location," he says.
click to enlarge Suthers: Campaign HQ at issue.
  • Suthers: Campaign HQ at issue.
We asked Suthers about this and he responded in an email: "We'll get a bill the end of February and report it when we pay it then and each month thereafter."

Not good enough, Bruce contends. He tells us in an email:
Can you see that is illegal? If he could use the space in the past, that is a contribution in kind. It should have been reported from the start of the arrangement. If it is an expense, it must be disclosed because it is being used. Campaigns can't divulge their connections, incoming and outgoing, only AFTER the election is over. If it is a loan to be repaid later, that must also be reported. In effect, the owner loaned Suthers the rent money. All loans must be reported when made, NOT when repaid. It won't appear in his March 2 report because the reporting period ends in February and he will arrange to delay the bill. By March 16, the ballot will already have been mailed.
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On Tuesday, the Organization of Westside Neighbors will host a candidate forum for mayor and City Council candidates at 6 p.m. at the Westside Community Center, 17th and W. Bijou streets.

The schedule actually begins at 5:30 p.m. with a candidate meet and greet. At 6, candidates for the three at-large Council seats will speak, followed by mayoral candidates.

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The Council of Neighbors and Organizations will host a mayoral debate at 5:30 p.m. on March 11 at Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave.

Candidates Amy Lathen, Marylou Makepeace and John Suthers have confirmed their participation. Joel Miller, a pilot who flies for FedEx, will participate if his work schedule allows.

Topics will include:
- How candidates will work with neighborhoods, CONO and regional governments to solve community challenges
- Code enforcement
- Transparency in government
- Maintenance of roads, bridges, stormwater systems and other infrastructure and how to fund these needs
- Economic development

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Colorado Springs Forward has endorsed incumbent Merv Bennett and newcomers Tom Strand and Jariah Walker in the at-large City Council race.

The group, formed last year to influence public policy and elections, also endorsed Larry Bagley in District 2. He was appointed in December to fulfill the unexpired term of Joel Miller, who resigned to run for mayor.

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