Dan Maes tries to put his campaign fine behind him: Good luck with that

Last Wednesday, Alan Prendergast wrote about a potential fine against Dan Maes for campaign-finance violations involving mileage reimbursements.

The penalties could have exceeded $27,000, but Maes bargained down to $17,500. And now, according to him, it's all over. Or so he would like it to be.

As Prendergast pointed out, Maes had been slapped 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."

According to Prendergast, the mileage total Maes claimed was approximately 90,000 in less than twelve months -- but that's not how Maes tots up the figures in a release with the hopeful headline "Maes Campaign Finance Matter Closed -- No Misuse of Funds Occurred." He suggests that if folks "do the math," they'll discover that he traveled 80,000 miles over a sixteen-month span.

Regarding the reasons for the mistake, Maes takes a page from the Scott McInnis playbook. In responding to revelations about McInnis' plagiarism scandal, his spokesman, Sean Duffy, pointed to a research assistant in the hope that doing so would absolve his candidate of blame -- a failed effort, but pretty much the only one available to him.

Maes, for his part, chalks up his problems to the actions of an "inexperienced volunteer" who was tasked with completing a report due to the quick growth of the campaign. But rather than going overboard on the sheepishness and regret, he subsequently fires salvos at Grand Junction residents Christopher Klitzke and Erik Groves for launching "a politically motivated assault" on him by filing the original complaint.

Of course, these gripes were hardly illegitimate, as indicated by Maes's decision to pay a fine of $17,500 -- less than what the gaffes could have cost him, but a stinging public rebuke nonetheless.

Here's how Maes tries to make it all better:

Maes Campaign Finance Matter Closed -- No Misuse of Funds Occurred

Evergreen, CO -- July 12, 2010

On May 5th 2010 Grand Junction resident Christopher Klitzke, with his attorney Erik Groves also of Grand Junction, filed a citizens complaint alleging that Dan Maes, Republican Designee for Governor in Colorado, had violated campaign finance guidelines. The complaint made allegations that would result in approximately $25,000.00 in fines for various alleged violations. After Maes had agreed to not contest the matter on July 2, 2010 and pay the fine Groves re-approached Maes' attorney, Steve Jones, with a proposal to reduce the fine amount. After days of negotiating, the matter was closed today. Maes agreed to a lower amount of $17,500.00 reflecting fines for four violations. The fine was assessed for failing to disclose expenditures of over $20.00 in a timely manner though no specific finance laws dictate what timely is. It also included failure to properly record the occupation of 9 contributors and incorrectly listing a non-monetary (in kind) contribution as corporate instead of personal. Allegations of improper payments to Dan Maes by the campaign account proved untrue.

"Our campaign grew very quickly and the demands on it exceeded the resources we had for professional accounting staff. After our contract accountant left our campaign abruptly after our Q4 2009 report was due, we were left to use an inexperienced volunteer to complete the report. We made some clerical mistakes that we regret", stated Maes. "Our campaign must take responsibility for these mistakes. We have taken steps to insure these mistakes do not happen again. It is important that our supporters and other Colorado voters understand that there were no illegal contributions nor expenditures and every reimbursement made by the campaign to Dan Maes was a completely legal and appropriate reimbursement of resources loaned to the campaign throughout 2009," Maes continued. "Do the math, 80,000 miles in 16 months at a combination of .555 and .505/ mile equals over $40,000.00. Many do not understand the amount of work we have put in to get to where we are today."

"It is, however, obvious that this complaint was a politically motivated assault on our campaign and the grass roots voters, with the goal to drain our human and financial resources just as the primary season begins. It is a distraction from the serious issues facing the state of Colorado," Maes added. "We are ready to move forward and get to the real issues facing Colorado voters, and especially registered Republicans who deserve a debate between my Republican opponent and myself. To date he has refused such a debate. The primary voters deserve to know the differences between us and he is denying them that privilege." Maes concluded.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts