Dan Maes: Rollin' down that lost highway

Dan Maes has found novel ways of fueling his dark-horse campaign for governor -- so novel that he now faces what could be the heftiest campaign-finance fine against a candidate in state history. According to news reports, Maes could be socked $27,000 in penalties for failing to properly report campaign contributions and reimbursing himself $44,837 in mileage costs since last summer -- generally in lump-sum payments, including one whopping $9,460 check last January.

Yes, you read that right. Forty-five grand. At current IRS reimbursement rates, that works out to 90,000 miles, give or take a pit stop or two.

The Maes campaign finance reports, while recently amended, don't provide much in the way of details on his mind-boggling itinerary. That's a pity; after all, even Angelina Jolie would have trouble burning up 90,000 miles in less than twelve months.

How did he do it?

Did Maes circle the equator eleven times? Did he hop on the Seattle-Miami flight (and back) 26 times? Or did he just barnstorm from Sterling to Durango and back a mere ninety times, pressing flesh and kissing babies all the way?

We may never know the full extent of the candidate's ramblings, or how he's managed to circumnavigate the state while remaining as visible to the voting public as a nocturnal rodent. Fortunately, a reliable source has dropped in our mailbox what purports to be a torn page from the Official Dan Maes Travel Diary, allegedly salvaged from the heap of fast-food wrappers, empty Frito bags and crumpled Red Bull cans shoveled out of the candidate's Tempo during his last trip through the full-service car wash.

While making no claims for the authenticity of the document in question, we offer a glimpse of it here in the hope that it contains some clues as to how the Maes mileage budget soared out of control. Here are the pertinent excerpts:

2/7/10. Evergreen-Las Cruces, NM-Evergreen. Got up early to pick up generous check from elderly patriot in suburban Las Cruces. Wanted to know if I am related to the Pennsylvania Maes clan. Told her I was from Chicago. She seemed disappointed. (680 mi x 2 = 1360mi)

2/10/10. Evergreen-Las Cruces, NM-Evergreen. Elderly patriot called, said she forgot to give me lucky lasagna and asked if I would "take a stand" regarding strange creatures, possibly illegal, knocking off trash lids in her alley. Went down to pick up lasagna, called local animal control. (680 mi x 2 = 1360 mi)

2/14/10. Denver-Sturgis, ND-Evergreen. Rode choppers through Black Hills with Sons of Liberty cycle "gang," spoke at fundraiser. Wonderful group, nice rides, sweet duds. Declined gift of assless chaps, not right image for campaign. (420 x 2 + 323 local miles = 1163 mi)

2/19/10. Vail-Las Vegas, NV-Colorado Springs. Meant to stop in Grand Junction. Must have dozed off at wheel. Woke up in eastern Utah and figured I might as well go on to Vegas, try slots and rally local Tea Party. No luck at machines and Craigslist search for "Tea Party" brought me to gathering of tie-dyed freaks on Fremont Street. Strong stench of burning rope. Rats. (650 mi + 770 mi = 1420 mi)

2/24/10. Evergreen-Las Cruces, NM-Evergreen. Returned casserole dish. (680 mi x 2 = 1360 mi)

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast