Thursday, November 30, 2017

UPDATE: Dobson endorses Roy Moore for Senate

Posted By on Thu, Nov 30, 2017 at 11:36 AM

Dr. James Dobson - WIKIMEDIA
  • WikiMedia
  • Dr. James Dobson
UPDATE: This blog has been updated to reflect a correction about the timing of Dobson's endorsement ad. It was, in fact, released prior to the allegations of sexual misconduct against the Senate candidate.

—— ORIGINAL POST: 11:36 A.M., THURSDAY, NOV. 30 ——

There's an important election coming up in Alabama. Voters in the predominantly Republican state will choose a successor to U.S. Sen. Luther Strange, who was appointed to fill the seat vacated by former Sen. Jeff Sessions upon his confirmation as Attorney General.

The Republican candidate, endorsed by President Donald Trump, is Roy Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who was twice removed from that post for defying court orders. (Once for refusing to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from the judicial building and once for continuing to enforce the state's ban on same-sex marriage that had been deemed unconstitutional.)

  • WikiMedia
  • Roy Moore
Moore is a staunch evangelical who believes Christianity should be enmeshed with public policy. That includes, according to the website of his nonprofit, Foundation for Moral Law, opposition to: women's right to choose abortion, any civil rights or protections for LGBTQ people, and science curricula including evolution in public schools.

That's probably what endears him to Dr. James Dobson, founder of the socially conservative church, Focus on the Family. Dobson is apparently so fond of Moore that he released an ad for television and radio endorsing him for Senate. Dobson told listeners in Alabama that Moore is a "man of proven character and integrity."

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Housing and Building Association stormwater measure's biggest donor

Posted By on Tue, Nov 14, 2017 at 11:17 AM

Final campaign finance reports for the Nov. 7 election's city issue on stormwater fees aren't due until Dec. 7, but reports filed just before the election show the "vote yes" committee raised nearly 13 times as much as the "vote no" committee received.

Invest COS, run by the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC's Rachel Beck, brought in $447,645, while Springstaxpayers.com raised only $35,635, a big chunk of which came from Americans for Prosperity.

The biggest single donor to Invest COS appears to be the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs, a group of builders, developers and other businesses involved in development.

The HBA gave $37,500 to the stormwater "vote yes" group. In 2015, when voters approved the 2C road tax, the HBA gave $10,000 to Springs Citizens Building the Future, the "vote yes" group.

Some observers have argued that had the city not given developers a pass on stormwater infrastructure over the years, we wouldn't be in the predicament we're in — facing a backlog of some $400-plus million in drainage needs. The counterpoint argument notes that several decades ago, drainage strategies were dramatically different than best practices today.

Back then, the idea was to get rid of runoff ASAP, which meant building concrete channels to funnel water to streams and creeks. Today, urban designers says it's a better practice to hold the water back in drainage ponds and wetlands, which reduces the sediment that washes into creeks and, ultimately, rivers.

Regardless, we asked the HBA's CEO Renee Zentz why the HBA pumped so much money into the stormwater measure, which, starting July 1, 2018, will charge every household $5 a month, and owners of nonresidential property $30 per acre per month.

She says via email:
The Colorado Springs Housing and Building Association supports many community initiatives that will improve our City. Not only did CSHBA support 2A, our Board of Directors also voted to support other ballots issues such as:
- Issue 1A and the RTA Override to improve Interstate 25
- School District 11, 3, and 12

CSHBA has always been an active supporter of ballot items that will benefit the community. Specifically related to storm water, a significant number of the 71 projects listed are for locations within existing neighbors that were developed decades ago without the current City standards. These improvements benefit the City as a whole. This was a widely endorsed initiative from diverse groups/organizations, I would hope that is story worthy. 

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El Paso County GOP names new executive director

Posted By on Tue, Nov 14, 2017 at 11:08 AM

Sebastian takes the reins at county GOP. - COURTESY OF CASSANDRA SEBASTIAN
  • Courtesy of Cassandra Sebastian
  • Sebastian takes the reins at county GOP.
The El Paso County Republican Party has a new executive director, Cassandra Sebastian, after a period of months without a director.

The announcement was made by party chair Josh Hosler:
It is with great excitement that I introduce the new Executive Director of the El Paso County Republican Party, Cassandra Sebastian.

Cassandra has been involved with the Party since 2011, when she helped to found the College Republicans at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.

Cassandra graduated with a B.A. from UCCS in 2014, where she focused on the American founding and, more specifically, The Federalist Papers. She then applied and was accepted into the Leadership Program of the Rockies, which she graduated from in 2015.

After completing LPR, Cassandra founded and served for two years as the president of Springs Liberty Toastmasters. She has served on several candidate campaigns and worked for several political nonprofits (I Am Created Equal & The Program for Preserving a Free and Prosperous Society), doing research, social media, communications, events, and fundraising.

Please join Vice Chair Mary Bradfield, Secretary Kit Roupe, Treasurer Linda Potter, and myself in welcoming Cassandra to the El Paso County Republican Party leadership. We are excited for her to bring her ideas and experience to our team and our county.

Feel free to contact Cassandra at executivedirector@gopelpaso.com.

As always, thank you for your continued support. We are working hard to build an infrastructure that will deliver a big victory and grow freedom in 2018!
The previous executive director was Daniel Cole, who's been working with the state party since earlier this year when Jeff Hays was elected state chairman.

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

DACA: Colorado Springs "Dream Team" rallies Congress to act

Posted By on Thu, Nov 9, 2017 at 6:25 PM

"Most people have kind of forgotten about it," says Nayda Benitez about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the program that gives undocumented youth temporary protection from deportation and permits to work/study in the United States. "But for me and the 17,000 other beneficiaries (in Colorado), we think about it every single day," she told the crowd gathered on a cold Thursday afternoon in front of City Hall.

Benitez is a DACA recipient with a scholarship at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Nearly year after President Donald Trump, an unabashed nativist, took office, Benitez is on a desperate timeline. Trump announced the end of DACA in September, meaning she's got about a year before her protection expires, leaving her vulnerable to enforcement actions, including deportation back to Mexico, a country she barely remembers.

As soon as that announcement came out, Benitez came together with other local Dreamers, as DACA recipients are sometimes called, to form the "Colorado Springs Dream Team." Since then, in between work, school and family obligations, the group's members  have spent time making advocacy posters, dogging their representatives and trying to rally broad support for their cause.

At the rally Thursday, Benitez asked attendees to urge their representatives in Congress, especially Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, to sponsor and support a "clean" Dream Act (meaning, legislation to create a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients without also boosting interior enforcement or funding the southern border wall).

She and two other young woman, all college students, wore graduation gowns to symbolize their aspirations, but emphasized that their value is "much more than that," tearing off their gowns to make the point. "We need to get away from this toxic Dreamer narrative," says Benitez, explaining that her brother, who didn't have the opportunity to go to college and works in construction, is just as valuable as she is, even though she's the higher-achiever by conventional standards. The speakers were adamant, too, that their parents aren't criminals and that passing a "clean" Dream Act is just one of many reforms needed to fix what they describe as a dysfunctional immigration system.


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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Election results start pouring in, voters friendly to gov asks

Posted By , and on Tue, Nov 7, 2017 at 7:32 PM

Election Day has rolled around again, and the results are pouring in. (See all the results here.) Let's look first at turnout. Odd year elections tend to attract a lot fewer voters to the polls, despite the relative ease of voting in Colorado, where all registered voters receive a mail ballot, and voters can register and vote any time they want at a voting center of their choice during the lead up the election. Despite that, in 2015, the last off-year election, turn out in El Paso County was a dismal 41.69 percent of registered voters.

This year was worse, with a 38.7percent turnout. Those that chose to vote were generally friendly to the asks of local government. Voters approved stormwater fees in Colorado Springs, allowed El Paso County to keep money over the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights cap, and finally gave Colorado Springs School District 11 the funding it says it desperately needs. Voters also allowed funding for the I-25 gap to be added to projects list for the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority. Manitou Springs voters, meanwhile, were extremely unfriendly to an ask for tax dollars to fund an emergency operations center and firefighter/police training site. Manitou voters also rejected the reelection bid of their mayor, Nicole Nicoletta, decisively choosing challenger Ken Jaray. Let's take a closer look at some of the big issues, with the vast majority of ballots now counted.

City Council President Richard Skorman announces 2A is winning at an election party at Phantom Canyon, crediting Mayor John Suthers for bringing in the win. Skorman told the crowd, "I can't believe we're here tonight and we're celebrating." - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • City Council President Richard Skorman announces 2A is winning at an election party at Phantom Canyon, crediting Mayor John Suthers for bringing in the win. Skorman told the crowd, "I can't believe we're here tonight and we're celebrating."

Issue 2A - Popular Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers asked voters to approve these fees to fund stormwater infrastructure in Colorado Springs, on the heels of the successful passage of 2015's 2C, a sales tax to fund road work. 2A will raise about $17 million a year for stormwater by charging all households $5 per month and commercial properties $30 per acre per month. Properties larger than 5 acres will be assessed a fee based on impermeable surface. The money coming from fees will free up general fund dollars for pressing needs, such as hiring more police officer, Suthers says. Ignoring stormwater wasn't a possibility, regardless of the outcome of the vote: The city has promised Pueblo that it will spend $23 million a year for 20 years on stormwater and its still battling a lawsuit from the EPA alleging that the city violated the Clean Water Act.
Indy endorsement: YES
Vote breakdown: 53.69 percent YES, 46.31 percent NO

Mayor John Suthers spoke to the crowd at the 2A party, saying: "I can't express how proud I am of the citizens of Colorado Springs. This is really a watershed moment for our city. Colorado Springs is taking its place in the great cities of America. Over the last 25 years, our city dug a pretty big hole for itself: a $1 billion infrastructure deficit. We're now building a city that matches our scenery." - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Mayor John Suthers spoke to the crowd at the 2A party, saying: "I can't express how proud I am of the citizens of Colorado Springs. This is really a watershed moment for our city. Colorado Springs is taking its place in the great cities of America. Over the last 25 years, our city dug a pretty big hole for itself: a $1 billion infrastructure deficit. We're now building a city that matches our scenery."

Issue 1A - El Paso County asked voters to keep $14.5 million in revenue collected over the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights limit in 2016 and for permission to use that extra money to reset its base, starting with the 2017 budget. In other words, 1A will let the county collect and keep more tax revenue this year and in all future years. (Confused? Trying reading the explanation in our endorsements.)
The county asked property owners to forgo a refund (about $40 for a typical home worth $250,000) this year, and forgo future refunds or reductions in taxes that might have resulted from TABOR's so-called ratchet-down effect on local budgets.
The county promised that if 1A passed it would spend up to $12 million for a local match for the Interstate 25 gap project and other road projects, with the rest of the 2016 money going to disaster recovery projects and parks, trails and open space.
Indy endorsement: YES
Vote breakdown: 67.2 percent YES, 32.8 percent NO

County Commissioners  Stan VanderWerf (left) and Mark Waller celebrate. VanderWerf  said he is very grateful to the citizens of the county for  approving 1A. "I think it demonstrates a growing trust of government," he said. "And I pledge these funds will be consumed in a way expressed on the ballot." VanderWerf said the county can now repair roads and bridges deferred since the recession. He thinks voters' friendliness to taxes and fees this year is due to an improving economy. - Waller said that he thought everyone put good campaigns together, but also that local government has built trust by doing what it says it will and spending money wisely. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • County Commissioners Stan VanderWerf (left) and Mark Waller celebrate. VanderWerf said he is very grateful to the citizens of the county for approving 1A. "I think it demonstrates a growing trust of government," he said. "And I pledge these funds will be consumed in a way expressed on the ballot." VanderWerf said the county can now repair roads and bridges deferred since the recession. He thinks voters' friendliness to taxes and fees this year is due to an improving economy.Waller said that he thought everyone put good campaigns together, but also that local government has built trust by doing what it says it will and spending money wisely.

• Issue 5B -
 In 2004, voters in Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, El Paso County and the town of Green Mountain Falls voted to establish the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, funded by a 1 cent sales tax. Of the money collected, 44 percent was a permanent tax, with 35 percent going to road maintenance and 10 percent going to the bus system. The other 55 percent of the tax, which cut off at the end of 2014, was to complete a list of road and bridge projects, with the highest-priority projects coming first.
Voters liked the system enough that in 2012, nearly 80 percent chose to renew the capital portion of the tax through 2024, with a new set of projects. That tax has collected more than was projected, leading to a "surplus." Supporters of 5B asked voters to permit the PPRTA to spend up to $10 million of that "surplus," split over the next two years, to chip in the largest share of a local match to the state government for the widening of the 18-mile stretch of Interstate 25 from Monument to Castle Rock, which could cost up to $600 million.
Indy endorsement: YES
Vote breakdown: 66.1 percent YES, 33.9 percent NO

OK, so let's look at a few other biggies:
Shawn Gullixson (center), who was just elected to the D-11 school board, says he's most excited that 3E passed. The step he's most eager to take now: "Take care of our teachers. As a parent, I want to put the best teachers in front of our students."  Gullixson says the campaign for 2E engaged families and voters and started healthy conversations in D-11. - NAT STEIN
  • Nat Stein
  • Shawn Gullixson (center), who was just elected to the D-11 school board, says he's most excited that 3E passed. The step he's most eager to take now: "Take care of our teachers. As a parent, I want to put the best teachers in front of our students." Gullixson says the campaign for 2E engaged families and voters and started healthy conversations in D-11.

Colorado Springs School District 11 Board of Education: Four of seven seats on the board of the city's largest school district were up for grabs. One seat was decided early. Mary Coleman, the manager of government affairs for Centura Health and a mover and shaker in the community, was running to complete the last two years of her predecessor's term. She had no challengers.
There were four candidates for three seats with four-year terms: incumbent Jim Mason, appointed incumbent Shawn Gullixson, community activist Julie Ott, and Morgan Chavez, who works at Progressive Insurance.
Indy endorsement: MASON, GULLIXSON, OTT
Vote brakdown: MASON (28.26 percent), GULLIXSON (23.91 percent), OTT (32.27 percent), CHAVEZ (15.56 percent)
D-11 school board winners (from left to right): Jim Mason, Julie Ott and Mary Coleman. Ott, who is new to the board, said she's been attending school board meetings and is  "ready to hit the ground running." - NAT STEIN
  • Nat Stein
  • D-11 school board winners (from left to right): Jim Mason, Julie Ott and Mary Coleman. Ott, who is new to the board, said she's been attending school board meetings and is "ready to hit the ground running."
Sarah Jack and Lauren Hug. Jack, a Mitchell High grad who worked to pass the last D-11 funding increase in 2000, cried as she said, "Everyone worked together, it was really a team effort." - NAT STEIN
  • Nat Stein
  • Sarah Jack and Lauren Hug. Jack, a Mitchell High grad who worked to pass the last D-11 funding increase in 2000, cried as she said, "Everyone worked together, it was really a team effort."

D-11 3E- D-11 asked voters for a hike in property taxes that will generate $42 million a year, and include no debt. The district says it will pay off existing debt by around 2023, meaning 3E will go from costing the owner of a $200,000 house in D-11 approximately an extra $14 a month in 2018 to around an extra $6 a month in 2023.
D-11 says the money will be used for capital repairs and upgrades to schools, increased teacher pay, and upgraded technology, among other needs.
Indy endorsement: YES
Vote breakdown: 57.31 percent YES, 42.69 percent NO

Manitou Springs Mayor - Incumbent Nicole Nicoletta, who has served two years in office, faced challenger Ken Jaray, an attorney and long-time community activist and volunteer.
Indy endorsement: NICOLETTA
Vote breakdown: NICOLETTA (35.38 percent), JARAY (64.62 percent)

Manitou Springs 2B - 2B asked to increase property taxes by up to $400,000 annually to pay $3.9 million (but with repayment costs up to $7 million) to build an emergency operations center for city government/training center for police and fire departments.
Indy endorsement: YES
Vote breakdown: 24.16 percent YES, 75.84 percent NO

Manitou Springs 2C - 2C asked to give the city the right to provide high-speed internet services or contract with a private provider.
Indy endorsement: YES
Vote breakdown: 84.31 percent YES, 15.69 percent NO

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Sallie Clark takes job with U.S. Department of Agriculture

Posted By on Mon, Nov 6, 2017 at 11:12 AM

Sallie Clark: Joining the federal payroll. - COUTESY EL PASO COUNTY
  • Coutesy El Paso County
  • Sallie Clark: Joining the federal payroll.
Former three-term El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark has been named the U.S. Department of Agriculture's state director of rural development in Colorado.

Clark, who finished her last term in January, was appointed to the post by President Donald Trump and starts work from her Denver office on Nov. 13. The agency is based in Denver but operates from six officers around the state. She says she'll commute to Denver from her home in Colorado Springs, at least initially.

"Its focus is to help rural communities," Clark, reached by phone, says. "I am the presidential appointment for the state of Colorado."

She notes the USDA provides grants, small business loans, aid with infrastructure, schools and water projects.

"I really have a passion for small communities, and this is a way for me to give back and do something good for Colorado," she says.

Rumors have floated that Clark might be planning to run for Congressional District 5 in 2018, a seat currently held by fellow Republican Doug Lamborn. Clark dismisses that talk, and says she plans to focus on her new job.

Here's a news release about the appointment:

Sallie Clark is a former El Paso County, Colorado commissioner, city councilmember, well known small-business entrepreneur and past President of the National Association of Counties (NACo).

Sallie Clark has extensive background at all levels of government, has a broad understanding of rural issues and federal agencies and has the reputation as a hard-working public servant. Sallie and her husband, Welling, have made Colorado their home since 1985 and own and operate a successful business located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Through her long standing relationships developed through NACo and Colorado Counties, Inc. (CCI), she has represented rural America. Sallie is well-respected by her peers and her community as evidenced by her continued service on many non-profit and government committees.

“It is a honor to be selected by the President to fill the extremely important role of State Director of Rural Development in Colorado", says Clark. "I look forward to working with the President, Secretary of Agriculture, and the Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development to increase rural prosperity and enhance customer service through innovation and partnerships in our state."

More information: Sallie Clark was elected to serve as an El Paso County Commissioner in November of 2004 and re-elected in 2008 and 2012 to represent District 3. She served as Board Chair and Vice Chair. Sallie was the fourth woman to have been elected to serve on the El Paso County Board of Commissioners and is the third woman to have served as Chair of the Board. In 2015 she was elected as President of National Association of Counties (NACo), the first Coloradan to have been elected as NACo president.

Sallie became a military wife in 1980 when she married Welling Clark. She is a long-time resident of Colorado and has family roots in Colorado; her father was born and raised in Pueblo and she spent every summer on her grandmother’s farm there. She loves Colorado, and continues to appreciate our open spaces, mountain scenery and especially the Pikes Peak area. She enjoys hobbies such as cooking, hiking, biking, horseback riding, tennis, golf and reading. Sallie is a small-business entrepreneur and has owned her own business since 1986. Sallie worked in the medical profession and the cancer field, prior to opening her own business.

Awards and recognition:
1998 Tourism Industry Award from the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau
1999 40 Achievers under 40 Award from Colorado Springs Business Journal
2001 Denver Post’s People to Watch
2002 Woman of Distinction Award from Soroptimist International
2004-2005 Woman of Distinction Award from American Heart Association "Go Red for Women" campaign
2006-2007 United Way Campaign Council Chair
2006 Accolades Award 2006 from the Southern Colorado Women's Chamber
2010 Elected Official of the Year from the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce
2010 Heroes of Mental Health Award from Pikes Peak Behavioral Health/Aspen Pointe
2011 Women of Influence Colorado Springs Business Journal
2012 Woodsum-Daniel Award to protect children from child abuse and neglect
Best Civic Leader, Best Role Model and Best County Commissioner from Colorado Springs Independent Newspaper
Graduate of the 2015 Harvard Kennedy School of Business, Senior Executive Leadership Program Graduate

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Thursday, November 2, 2017

Vote: El Paso County announces new ballot drop-off points

Posted By on Thu, Nov 2, 2017 at 4:12 PM

As of Nov. 2, 74,549 people had voted in El Paso County, less than 19 percent of the 399,492 ballots issued.

So if Election Day is sneaking up on you and you haven't voted, the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office wants to make it as simple as possible.

In that regard, the office is piloting new drop-off spots. Starting today, Nov. 2, election judges will be at these locations and times to pick up ballots:


From a news release:
The project is part of an effort to continue making voting as accessible as possible in El Paso County – and that includes returning mail ballots. Citizens can drop ballots off in one of the 15 secure 24/7 drop-off locations throughout the County. But, the Clerk’s Office understands that those options may not be the most convenient.

“We wanted to provide this service to citizens who may not live as close to one of the 24/7 secure drop-off locations that we have throughout the County. Many of the locations are community spots for local neighborhoods, and we hope this will provide them with an additional chance to save a trip to drop off their ballot,” said Clerk and Recorder Broerman.

Ballots may also be dropped off at one of the voter service and polling centers open now through Election Day – locations are available on www.epcvotes.com. The Clerk and Recorder’s Office must receive the ballot by 7:00 p.m. on November 7 for it to be counted.

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Monday, October 30, 2017

AFP donates to committee opposing Colorado Springs' stormwater ballot measure

Posted By on Mon, Oct 30, 2017 at 5:24 PM

A "vote no" committee opposing the city's proposed stormwater fee on the Nov. 7 ballot has raised $35,635, with the largest single donation coming from Americans for Prosperity, according to a campaign finance report filed today, Oct. 30.

AFP, which gave $15,000, is a national conservative organization funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, who represent the ultra conservative wing of the Republican party.

We've reached out to the Colorado office of AFP by email and voicemail and will circle back with its comments if and when we hear something.

The city is seeking voter permission to impose $5-a-month fees on all households and $30 per acre on commercial property to fund stormwater projects. Another class of payer is owners of more than five-acre parcels that are undeveloped; those fees will be set by the stormwater manager. The money is needed, the city argues, to fund a $460-million deal with Pueblo to better control the city's runoff. The ballot question is known as 2A.

The second biggest single donor to Springstaxpayers.com is IACE (I Am Created Equal), which is overseen by Laura Carno, a seasoned political operative who ran Steve Bach's successful mayor campaign in 2011. It gave $13,000.

Third largest donation is from Tim Hoiles, a member of the Hoiles family that owned Freedom Communications, which owned the Gazette for decades before selling it several years ago. He's given two donations totaling $6,000. When his family owned the newspaper, the Gazette's editorial pages reflected the Libertarian philosophy of limited government intrusion and participation in public business. He recently spoke before City Council about special districts' debt limits.

Other donors gave small amounts, including former City Councilor Helen Collins, who gave $50.

The committee has spent most of the money on Facebook ads and media buys.

Invest COS, the "vote yes" committee, has raised $311,290 but has not yet filed the report covering the second half of October. It's due Friday, Nov. 3.
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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Sen. Gardner mum on trespass case so activists petition Nor'Wood

Posted By on Wed, Oct 25, 2017 at 1:43 PM


Last week, the Independent reported that three local activists are facing trespassing charges stemming from a peaceful visit to Senator Cory Gardner's downtown office.

With their case heading to trial, the defendants are wondering why the charges haven't been dropped — as they were in a similar Denver case per the Senator's request. Neither Gardner's office nor the Colorado Springs City Attorney's Office opted to comment on the Indy's story, though an audio recording ostensibly confirmed that the Senator had made the same request here.

“As I understood it, Sen. Gardner was requesting charges be dropped...?” a defendant, Candi Frank, asked the prosecutor, Shantel Withrow, who replied, “Yes, he did request that charges be dropped, but in reviewing the case, there is a violation of law that occurred and my office is the one that makes the ultimate decision.”

Despite that — and not having been privy to that recording — city spokesperson Kim Melchor says that Gardner's staff never actually made that request.

So the defendants are turning instead to the stated "victim" of their crime — Nor'Wood Development Group. They started an online petition asking the company, which owns the building where they allegedly trespassed, to ask the city attorney to drop charges.

We've put in a call to Nor'Wood to see if they've seen the petition and ask whether they intend to respond. We'll update if we hear back.

Find the whole petition here. In part, it says:

Norwood Developers are listed as the "victims" in the case. This is a local developer making money from a tax payer funded representative. These women were simply in Senator Gardners [sic] office asking him to do the job he is paid to do with their tax dollars which go directly to Norwood from the rental of the office space. 

Sign this petition today to tell Norwood to ask the city to drop the charges against these three women. Tell them that this is completely unacceptable and that they are most certainly not victims in this case. Staying silent while they are unjustly prosecuted is wrong.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Traffic fines for charity? A petition aims to redirect fine money.

Posted By on Tue, Oct 24, 2017 at 3:06 PM

  • Shutterstock.com
Supporters of an initiative that would withhold all traffic fines and forfeitures from the state government are approved to seek petition signatures to place the measure on the November 2018 ballot.

Steve Kerbel, one of the measure's backers, says the "Stop the Shakedowns" campaign wants to redirect fines, forfeitures and other financial penalties away from government and into the hands of charities.

According to a fiscal impact statement provided by the state on the Colorado Secretary of State's Office website, the initiative would decrease state revenue by $256.2 million in fiscal year 2018-19 and $332.7 million in fiscal year 2019-20, with ongoing decreases in future years.

Here's his description of the measure:
Colorado voters are likely to have the opportunity to put an end to financially motivated government enforcement on the November 2018 ballot. "Stop the Shakedowns" is a Colorado issue committee which has passed all requirements to begin petitioning for a statewide ballot initiative which will stop government from receiving the financial benefit of fines, forfeitures or other financial penalties. Instead, if a victim of the action eliciting a fine exists, that victim would receive all of the fine money, up to their total damages. Absent a victim, as in a traffic infraction, the person being fined donates the fine amount to a Colorado charity of their choice. The initiative, filed with the Secretary of State as Issue #53 (until petitioning is complete and a proposition number is assigned), would result in the following:

1) Any conflict of interest due to a financial motivation for enforcement of any law or regulation would be eliminated. The result would be judicious enforcement, and the credibility of enforcement would no longer be called into question. The result would be a more peaceful relationship between the people of Colorado and our law enforcement. Transparent financially motivate enforcement such as speed traps would no longer exist.

2) Victims have a minuscule amount of restitution from fine revenue, however less than 5% of this money actually gets in their hands now with our existing state programs. After this becomes law, a victim will receive up to 100% of the fine.

3) Hundreds of millions of additional dollars in the hands of charities each year will do much more to sheltering the homeless, feeding the hungry, and addressing myriad other societal problems in Colorado. This will result in safer communities and better assistance for people in need.

4) The public will be reminded that the people still have a voice in how government is managed, instead of feeling helpless as most people do now. The people making ground rules for government is not something seen very often since the drafting of the bill of rights.

5) Police officers will benefit, as the majority of police took their jobs to serve their communities. Today, their employers have required them to devote much of their time toward generation of revenue rather than community service.
Kerbel describes himself as a former CEO of insurance businesses and a Libertarian who competed for the presidential nomination in 2015 but dropped out.

He says the measure is aimed at municipalities as well as the state and contains language that would sidestep cities' home-rule status, if it passes. Colorado Springs is a home-rule city. It's expecting to collect $5.2 million in fines in 2018, although not all fines are related to traffic enforcement.

Kerbel says the measure would create a new law, not amend the state Constitution, meaning signatures on the petitions can come from anywhere in the state; 98,492 signatures are required by March 28, 2018.

"It's still a big job, and we just got started," Kerbel says. "These volunteers are working hard. It's purely grassroots." Asked who's funding the effort, he said there is no big financial backer of the measure.

"We end up with more judicious enforcement, and there is no financial reward for enforcement," he says. "It's going to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless. If they pull you over, it's because you really did something wrong. They just can't keep the money, and that money is going to go to the charity of the victim. There really is no loser here."

Of course, it's easy to see that local and state governments would argue otherwise, since many are already struggling to fund core services. In the Springs, for instance, response times have reached 11 minutes for police, and the mayor has said that he needs more money to properly staff the police force.

Learn more about the measure at www.stoptheshakedowns.com.
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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Audience counters Douglas Bruce at election forum

Posted By on Wed, Oct 18, 2017 at 4:28 PM

Mayor John Suthers makes his case for stormwater fees at a forum Oct. 17. John Hazlehurst, right, with the Colorado Springs Business Journal, emceed the evening. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Mayor John Suthers makes his case for stormwater fees at a forum Oct. 17. John Hazlehurst, right, with the Colorado Springs Business Journal, emceed the evening.

UPDATE: Anthony Carlson, who's working on the "vote yes" campaign for the Colorado Springs School District 11 issue, just notified us of what he says were inaccuracies stated at the forum.

Here is his email in full:

Doug [Bruce] was pretty adamant about only presenting the "facts" last night, but one key fact he got wrong was what District 11 asked for in 2016.

Last year D-11 asked for a 32.6 million dollar mill levy, which would've phased in over 6 years and become more expensive for tax payers over time.

Additionally, last year the District had a 235 million dollar bond on the ballot which would have raised taxes by 15.5 million dollar annually.

In 2016 the District asked for a 48.1 million dollar increase.

This year the District is asking for a 42 million dollar mill levy, which will not phase in. However, due to the debt reduction mechanism in the ballot language will become cheaper for tax payers over time. For a home of [$]200,000 it will be about $14 a month in 2018, but for that same home will only be $6 a month by 2022.

The District's proposal for the 2017 mill is 6 million dollars less than the proposals put on the ballot in 2016.

I've attached the TABOR notice from last year to dispute Doug's claim.


——ORIGINAL POST 10:56 A.M. WEDNESDAY, OCT. 18, 2017——————————-

Douglas Bruce, the father of tax limitation in Colorado, got a taste of his own medicine on the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 17. Bruce was at the Leadership Pikes Peak forum on two ballot issues, which was held at the MCI/Verizon building on Garden of the Gods Road.

Before launching into his opposition argument to Colorado Springs School District 11's proposed mill levy override, known as 3E on the ballot, Bruce tried to correct something Mayor John Suthers had said moments before. Suthers was arguing in favor of the city's stormwater fee proposal, which would impose fees of $5 per household and $30 per acre for developed property. The fees would raise $17 million a year starting July 1, 2018, if approved, and fund 71 drainage projects across the city.

In his parting shot, Suthers had reminded the roughly 60 people who attended that Colorado Springs' property taxes are among the lowest of any city in the state.
Laura Carno argued against stormwater fees, saying people are tapped out.
  • Laura Carno argued against stormwater fees, saying people are tapped out.
Bruce said Suthers was wrong, that Colorado Springs actually has the highest sales tax rate in the state, at 8.25 percent. But a member of the audience quickly called Bruce on that, saying Suthers hadn't made a claim about sales tax. Bruce disputed that but was interrupted by a man in the audience, who blurted out, "You're undermining your own credibility."

A few sentences later, when Bruce claimed the D-11 measure was triple the size of its $15 million measure on the 2016 ballot, a woman in the crowd interjected, "That's not correct. It's $42 million."

To which Bruce replied, "I realize I have a hostile audience."

It's unclear if that was true. The only measure of voter sentiment that counts will come on Nov. 7.

Suthers hopes Election Day will bring a victory for the stormwater fee, which he says is sorely needed so that the $17 million a year now spent on stormwater will be freed up to fund the city's other "critical" needs, including 100 to 125 more police officers.

He also said passage of the measure, which would levy fees for 20 years, would help the city get out from under a lawsuit filed by the EPA alleging violations of the Clean Water Act, due largely to the city's neglected stormwater system.

"I have had discussions with the EPA," he said. "If we can go to them and show we have a dedicated revenue stream for stormwater, the chances of resolving the case are very good."

But Laura Carno, a political activist who champions conservative causees, called the fees inequitable, because a person living in an apartment will pay the same $5 a month that a person living in a mansion will pay.

Lastly, she noted that some property owners in the city who own undeveloped land might pay nothing. "City Council member Jill Gaebler says nobody should get a pass, and I agree with Gaebler."

On the D-11 issue, advocate Lauren Hug said D-11 hasn't had a tax increase since 2000. To drive home how long that is, she asked the audience to consider all the technological changes that have happened since then, including the smart phone's advancement.

"D-11 needs money to provide 21st century education," she says, adding that many D-11 buildings are 50 years old and older. She also noted teachers need raises, or D-11 risks losing them to other districts or states, in light of the nationwide teacher shortage.

Hug also urged voters to support the measure to assure their property values don't plunge and to invest in making the city attractive for economic development.

But Bruce took issue, saying, "This isn't an investment, because you never get your money back." He also said D-11's enrollment is stagnant and there's no need for additional money.
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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Firefighters back stormwater measure

Posted By on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 2:29 PM

On Wednesday, Oct. 11, the Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters Association, IAFF-Local 5, announced it has endorsed the city's stormwater fee measure, 2A, on the Nov. 7 ballot.

The measure, if approved, would impose fees starting July 1, 2018, of $5 per month on all households, including renters, and $30 per acre on non-residential developed property. Tracts five acres and larger would be assessed based on impervious surface and assigned fees by the city's stormwater manager.

The fees would raise about $17 million a year, which would be used for stormwater in place of the currently budgeted $17 million in the general fund, thereby freeing that money for spending on other city needs.

Mayor John Suthers has said he would reallocate general fund dollars to hire more cops and firefighters, improve parks and upgrade the city's vehicle fleet.

Local 5's release:
Local 5’s Political Action Liaison, John Roy, mentioned that, “After careful consideration, our association has chosen to support the stormwater campaign. We have chosen to do so because we believe that this enterprise will ultimately make Colorado Springs safer and it will allow our firefighters the ability to more effectively do their job. Due to the lack of a dedicated stormwater fee, general fund dollars have long been repurposed from their original intent to pay for stormwater. As such, we have seen our equipment, staffing levels, and employee package suffer due to lack of funding. The Mayor has committed to making public safety a top priority if general fund dollars can be used for their original intent. This would mean better service delivery for the citizens and a better work environment for firefighters. With that focus in mind, we support this initiative.”

The Colorado Springs Professional Firefighter’s President, Dave Noblitt has been a firefighter in the city for over 20 years. When asked about the current state of the department Noblitt stated that, “Our staffing levels are far from adequate. Historically, we have approximately the same number of firefighters that we did in 2008. However, we run approximately 30,000 more calls a year than we did in 2008. This means that firefighters are attempting to do more with less and that is taxing on our employees. This measure would ensure that the city has the financial capacity to support public safety from falling further behind in its ability to provide adequate response capabilities.”

The Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters view this ballot initiative with a linear focus: “What is best for the safety and welfare of the citizens of Colorado Springs and their firefighters?”. Question 2A has a direct impact on how the fire department will continue to operate and as such, the support of this initiative is seemingly what’s best for public safety.
Disclosure: The Indy's owner, John Weiss, is a board member for Together for Colorado Springs, which has also endorsed 2A.
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Congressional District 5 race draws fourth Republican hopeful

Posted By on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 12:35 PM

Rhea: Fourth Republican to enter primary race in CD5. - COURTESY OF BILL RHEA
  • Courtesy of Bill Rhea
  • Rhea: Fourth Republican to enter primary race in CD5.
The race for the Republican nomination in Congressional District 5 just got bigger, with the entrance of Bill Rhea, retired judge and missionary, into the fray.

In a news release, Rhea calls himself "a distinctly centrist Republican" in a field of right-leaning candidates vying for an office held by ultra conservative Doug Lamborn.

"Frankly, I think I have a really good appeal to the independent voters," Rhea tells the Indy in an interview, "and my sense is the other [candidates], I would put them in the category of traditional Republicans. My plan and the reason I think I have a serious chance is I can appeal to independent voters as well as Republicans. The others can divide up the very conservative Republican branch."

Rhea said he was referring to candidates State Sen. Owen Hill, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn and incumbent Doug Lamborn in those remarks. While Colorado Springs City Councilor Tom Strand has said he'll run, he hasn't yet filed for office.

Rhea says he won't be as well funded as Lamborn, but he is retired and at 70 has lots of life experience to bring to the office and energy to seek it. "I'm going full throttle," he says.

Rhea is a lifelong Republican, he says, and sought judicial office in partisan races in Texas, but he admits he became a registered Democrat for a brief time in 2016 "because I was Trumpized," meaning he didn't approve of President Donald Trump.

Here's Rhea's news release:
Colorado Springs resident Bill Rhea today announced his candidacy for Colorado’s 5th Congressional District* in 2018. A retired judge and former missionary in Cambodia, Rhea will focus on a needed renewal of the core values of the Republican Party, bringing his singular and responsive focus to relevant issues.

Judge Rhea is a distinctly centrist Republican, as opposed to each of the other candidates for the House seat currently occupied by incumbent Doug Lamborn.

“I am grateful for this amazing opportunity to demonstrate my commitments to the people of the 5th District of Colorado,” said Bill Rhea. “The current leadership has become complacent, and for many years we have witnessed a failure to demonstrate necessary levels of independent thoughtfulness or of commitment to a respectful, bipartisan discourse. My knowledge of the legal and judicial systems, my full and varied life experiences and my core values will help me bring new avenues of change in Washington, D.C. If elected, my focus will be to demonstrate bold leadership, with an open mind, as we address the many complex issues facing our community and our nation.”

Judge Rhea’s career has included 17 years as a civil litigation lawyer (including four years as a mediator), 15 years as a State District Judge in Texas with oversight responsibility of the juvenile justice system in Dallas County, which operates on a $30 million annual budget. Rhea also served on the Rules Advisory Committee to the Texas Supreme Court and was appointed as a special judge for high-profile cases outside his jurisdiction. He also managed large-scale asbestos and toxic-tort litigation for the entire North Texas Region.

Bill and his wife, Akemi, have raised a family of 15 children (six biological and nine adopted). They have dealt with many challenges, but through faith and much grace, continue to live out the values they so cherish.

Following six years of missionary service in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the Rheas relocated to Colorado in August of 2015.

Judge Rhea is developing a private section of his website where he will invite a wide range of individuals from various parts of the community to personally engage with him on issues they care about. Additionally, he will be active in social media sites as an important part of the campaign.

Rhea for Congress
More information about Bill Rhea, his background and positions on various issues, can be found at either www.rheaforrepublicanrenewal.com orwww.billrheaforcongress.com" target="_blank"> www.billrheaforcongress.com. Bill Rhea may be reached at bill@rheaforrepublicanrenewal.com or 719-209-2003.

*The 5th Congressional District encompasses Colorado Springs and the surrounding cities, towns and rural communities of Park, Chaffee, El Paso, Freemont and Teller counties.

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Stephany Rose brings on new treasurer ahead of FEC deadline

Posted By on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 10:21 AM

  • Stephany Rose for Congress
On Wednesday afternoon, we heard from Stephany Rose Spaulding — a Democratic candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in Colorado’s 5th District. It's been a rough past few days for her, since, as the Independent reported, three volunteers, including the committee chair, abandoned Spaulding's campaign over the weekend. On the way out, they raised suspicions about the first-time candidate's handling of her campaign's finances. You can read about their allegations and overall rationale here.

News of their departure was "sudden" and "heart-breaking," says Spaulding, who counted at least one of those volunteers as a close friend. Spaulding is steadfast, however, in her position that the campaign's finances are fine shape.

"They wanted me to completely come off of the bank account and have no control over the finances ... no candidate worth their wisdom has or would do that," she told the Independent. "People are really investing their hope in this campaign and I am responsible for that."

Technically, the campaign's treasurer, Sarah McCollim is also responsible for that. According to multiple ex-volunteers, she's currently out of the country, even though the campaign is due to report its first quarter of receipts and disbursements to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Sunday, Oct. 15.

Spaulding herself didn't know whether McCollim is in town or where she is, having not spoken with her for two weeks. (We've tried and failed to get in touch with her ourselves.) Spaulding says she's totally satisfied with McCollim's service to the campaign, but has nonetheless brought on a new treasurer/adviser/spokesperson.

That would be Jason Christiansen — a nonprofit consultant who currently lives in Colorado's 6th Congressional District. He last lived in this district in 2014. Notably, he also used to be a Republican, having worked for the former Congressman from Illinois, Don Manzullo, during the first half of his decade-long tenure in the House that ended in 2013.

So, why is Christiansen working for the other party now?

"Well, I switched my affiliation to Independent on January 20 of this year," he says. (Recall, this happened on that day.)

And, why work for this particular Democrat?

Practically speaking, because Carolyn Cathey, longtime Democrat, local realtor and one of Spaulding's most trusted advisers, asked him to. Philosophically speaking, "[Spaulding] is the kind of representation we need in this district," he says, adding that with so many volunteers ditching right before the campaign's first FEC filing deadline, "they needed some hands-on help from people with experience." 

Indeed, Christiansen's LinkedIn profile describes him as a "turnaround specialist" which, in his words, means "going into organizations that have issues and putting structures in place." In this case, he says, he's "making sure there's discipline with the money." That said, he reviewed the campaign's October Quarterly filing and found, besides a few minor, clerical omissions, everything to be in order. They'll submit their filing to the FEC on Sunday. It usually takes a few days for the agency to review and publish filings.

Meanwhile, Dawn Haliburton-Rudy, the former campaign committee chair behind the recent allegations, says she filed a complaint to the FEC on Wednesday. Find information on the adjudication process here.

Spaulding says that, contrary to the ex-volunteers' telling, she has been listening to experienced campaigners from the start. Because the campaign is such a grassroots operation, Spaulding says she didn't feel the need to disclose every conversation or relationship to every volunteer. Given that, she acknowledges the recent fallout could boil down to a miscommunication, especially since it went down over text message.

Still, Spaulding is feeling bolstered by the friends, supporters and advisers who have stuck by her.
"I've been able to see the real heart of this community," she says, adding that "this campaign from the beginning was doubted by a lot of people. They said I have no name recognition because I've never been a candidate before [so] I would be better suited to run for smaller office. But we've defied expectations."

Evidence of that, she says, is in the numbers. The campaign is preparing to report over $68,000 in receipts during their first quarter. And Spaulding says the majority of donors aren't "the usual suspects" but rather, "everyday people" who give in small amounts. There are no loans listed, she says, nor has she heard that anybody took out a second mortgage to donate. The donor who cashed in their life insurance policy, she says, is her sister.

"So they can drag my name through the mud, but we still have people willing to rise above for this district," Spaulding says, acknowledging that the name dragging tends only to get worse as campaigns move into general election season. And actually holding office? This may be good preparation.

The election is in 2018. Democrat Betty Field and Republicans Tom Strand, Owen Hill, Darryl Glenn and Bill Rhea (as of yesterday) are all also vying to unseat incumbent Congressman Doug Lamborn.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Congressional candidate Stephany Rose abandoned by campaign leaders

Posted By on Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 7:01 PM

UPDATE: While Dawn Haliburton-Rudy listed several groups that she says will work together to search for a new candidate for the 5th Congressional District, leaders of those groups have since contacted the Independent to say they have not yet committed to such a process, and are in a wait-and-see mode.

——- ORIGINAL POST, MONDAY, 7:01 P.M. ——-

Stephany Rose speaks alongside Dreamers at a recent rally. - NAT STEIN
  • Nat Stein
  • Stephany Rose speaks alongside Dreamers at a recent rally.

Over the weekend, the majority of Stephany Rose Spaulding’s campaign team jumped ship, saying they’re uncomfortable with how the campaign’s finances have been handled.

Rose, a pastor and professor, is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 5th Congressional District on the Democratic side. A political newbie, she officially announced her candidacy on July 3. This staff defection comes as the campaign readies its first campaign finance report.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) requires candidate committees close their books on the October Quarterly on Sep. 30. They have until Oct. 15 to file a report that itemizes receipts and disbursements. It’s a public document that looks like this.

Preparation for the filing is what brought some campaign members’ concerns to a fore. On Saturday, they released a joint statement:


Please note that Alan Pitts, Chandra Yvonne and I have resigned from Stephany Rose Spaulding's campaign for Congressional District 5. We have made this decision based on perceived financial improprieties committed by the candidate for this race. We, in no way shape or form, had anything to do nor did we have any knowledge of the current allegations.

Further, we demanded that the candidate provide us the financial information, which only she controls, to perform a forensic evaluation to thoroughly assess the level of potential improprieties. The candidate refused. As a result of the candidate's refusal, we determined, that it is in our best interest to resign. We wish the candidate all the best.


Dawn Haliburton-Rudy (campaign committee chair)
Alan Pitts (political strategist)
Chandra Yvonne (interim campaign developer)

Originally, that statement was also signed by Carolyn Cathey, a campaign advisor. But on Monday she distanced herself from the other three, releasing this statement instead.

Dear everyone,

To be clear I am still associated with the campaign in the same informal advisory role I was always in. A team of campaign experts have been deployed to complete the FEC filing due October 15th, this is a public document, and according to our team of experts including campaign finance advisors, the accounts have been set up correctly with them all leading back to the candidate as the law requires. The suspicions about possible irregularities are being looked at from all angles to include previous volunteers. all of us take this matter very seriously and I believe that numbers never lie...the money is accounted for and in its' proper place, as of writing this message, and the public filing will show that. Any impropriety will be handled with the full extent of the law and will be made public as the investigation allows. Trust is the most important asset a person can ever give... keeping that trust is the most important asset a candidate can ever possess. Thank you so much my friends.

Also on Monday, a draft press release from the campaign was leaked to the Indy.

The campaign Stephany Rose for Congress is excited about our candidate who continues to demonstrate the strength of her candidacy and leadership for our community. She has defied expectations with her first quarter fundraising, proving the seriousness as a contender to become the next U.S. House of Representatives Congressional leader for Colorado's Fifth District.

Unfortunately, trust and confidence of volunteers intimate to the campaign have been breached. In their efforts to engage in dirty tricks and orchestrating unethical meetings with potential Republican and Democratic opponents of Stephany Rose Spaulding, they have demonstrated a desire for politics as usual. This is not and never will be the spirit of Stephany Rose for Congress.

Stephany Rose for Congress is a financially and ethically sound campaign. And our candidate is surrounded by a team of trusted expert advisers dedicated to her mission of putting people over politics and transforming Colorado's Fifth Congressional District in all our best interests.

Neither Cathey nor Rose returned multiple voice mails and emails requesting their comment. We eagerly await their reply and will update this blog when we get it.

So, you might be asking yourself, what the heck is going on here?

Dawn Haliburton-Rudy feels deceived. - FILE PHOTO
  • file photo
  • Dawn Haliburton-Rudy feels deceived.

Haliburton-Rudy and Yvonne sat down with the Independent on Sunday to further explain themselves. Essentially, their misgivings are two-fold: they suspect potential campaign finance violations and they disagree with certain fundraising practices on ethical grounds.

The reason they’re suspicious, they say, is because the candidate was persistently “elusive” when it came to money matters. Rose allegedly kept the campaign’s finances quite close to the chest — withholding access to accounting spreadsheets, bank statements and the funds themselves. Tensions came to a head this weekend when members of the campaign requested that the candidate relinquish control of the finances. In a group text message thread, Rose replied that “No [I won’t] as the campaign’s finances are directly connected to my personal finances.”

A frustrated Yvonne asks, “If it was all above board, why make it off-limits to your team?”

The secretive dynamic isn’t new. Ethan Wade, former campaign manager (and Indy freelancer), says it’s one of the reasons he quit in early September. “It's pretty typical for campaigns to hire compliance consultants (lawyers and CPAs who specialize in FEC regulations) and the folks I was working with on Stephany's campaign flat out refused to hire one in favor of having the committee's treasurer work on the finances,” he writes to the Indy via Facebook messenger. “I was really against that decision since none of us had any expertise in FEC regulations, but they went on regardless.”

As committee chair, Haliburton-Rudy says that with the FEC deadline approaching, she won't rubber stamp a filing based on transactions she's never had the chance to review. “There were resources available to her but she wouldn’t accept any advisement,” she tells the Indy, adding that s
he intends to file a complaint to the FEC this week. That complaint will single out an alleged loan that the campaign received from Rose's childhood church in Chicago. Halliburton-Rudy believes, based on conversations with Rose, that the funds exceeded federal limits, were deposited improperly and came from a source that's barred from political contributions.

Again, Rose didn't return requests for comment on this story. 

FEC guidelines state that "The treasurer of a political committee is responsible for examining all contributions to make sure they are not illegal."

According to the “statement of organization” filing for “Stephany Rose for Congress,” the committee’s treasurer and custodian of records is Sarah Jeanne McCollim. McCollim is reportedly out of the country and has been for a few weeks now. We’ve reached out and will update when we hear back.

FEC guidelines also state that "The candidate may act as the committee’s treasurer."

Aside from their legal and financial skepticism, Haliburton-Rudy, Yvonne and Pitts all harbor an ethical skepticism that, they say, overshadows the rest. It stems from anecdotes they heard at multiple fundraisers. “[Rose] would tell everyone that she had at least two members of her church take out second mortgages to donate to her campaign,” Yvonne recounts. “And these were older people who need to be in a nursing home, you know. … And there was one woman, she told us, with stage-four cancer who cashed in her life insurance to give [to the campaign].”

As a licensed social worker, Haliburton-Rudy says this just didn’t sit right with her, regardless of the legality.

“It was like she was bragging about it,” she says. “And that’s not right.”

Yvonne, who lives on a fixed income because of a disability, elaborated: “If this is truly a campaign that ‘puts people over politics,’ we shouldn’t be willing to exploit vulnerable people just to get ahead.”

Both acknowledge that leaving the campaign doesn't bode well for progressives in the region. Congressional District 5, where just over 20 percent of the electorate is registered with the Democratic Party, is a long-shot race no matter how united against incumbent Doug Lamborn local Democrats may be.

The closest showing by a Democrat in recent memory was in 2014 when Irv Halter, a retired Air Force Major General, got 40 percent of the vote. In fact, voters in the 5th have never sent a Democrat to Congress. So, any drama or division puts the prospect of winning even further out of reach.

On the Republican side, Colorado Springs State Senator Owen Hill, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn and Colorado Springs City Councilor Tom Strand are all challenging Doug Lamborn in the primary.

On the Democratic side, another newcomer to electoral politics, Betty Field, is gunning for the nomination. She's not rushing to judgement about the allegations against her opponent, saying, in general, that “people, not just candidates, make mistakes. No one’s perfect. People are forgiving … However, if you make a mistake with someone else’s money, that’s a much tougher thing to forgive.”

For her part, Field doesn’t touch her campaign’s finances, leaving it for her treasurer to handle. “I promised to run a clean and transparent campaign,” Field says. “There were no issues with my first filing and I don’t expect there to be any with the second.”

But the defectors from Rose’s campaign aren’t eager to join Field’s. Instead, Haliburton-Rudy says, they’re going to put their heads together with other local progressives to find the right candidate to run.

She expects the search committee to include, among others, representatives from Together for Colorado Springs (which she herself co-chairs, along with Indy founder John Weiss, for transparency), Unite Colorado Springs, Citizens for Hope and Pikes Peak Progressives. It’ll be more rigorous this time, she expects, meaning a longer questionnaire and in-person vetting. They’ll consider Democratic, Republican and Independent candidates. “We have to get serious. We can’t let this happen again,” she says.

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