Right now, a group that backs Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton in his race for governor is blanketing the airways with ads attacking Representative Jared Polis, Stapleton's Democratic gubernatorial opponent, for not paying taxes for several years — and skipping over the fact that he didn't owe any for the period in question.
But Stapleton has a tax issue of his own. Nine times over the past nine years, properties with which he is or was associated have been assessed interest charges for late tax payments.
We've reached out to Stapleton's campaign for comment on the issue. When and if someone gets back to us, we'll share the response in this space.
Here's the aforementioned attack ad on Polis, sponsored by the Republican Governors Association. Note that it includes a clip of CBS4's Shaun Boyd, who has recently expressed frustration about her image being used for partisan political purposes.
The claim is certainly grabby. But as a recent Denver Post piece noted, the paper had "previously reported that Polis owed no income taxes for five years in the early 2000s, before his election to Congress, while he was shouldering large losses as a tech startup entrepreneur. That means he had no tax bill due."
This wasn't true when it came to Stapleton's property taxes.
First up is a home on Preserve Parkway South in Greenwood Village that Stapleton and his wife, Jenna, purchased in May 2007 and still own.
According to documents from the Arapahoe County assessor's office, payments were three months late in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. As a result, the owners were charged additional interest of $253.76, $251.84, $270.02 and $269.44, respectively.
No, the interest charges aren't huge. But the penalties still come as a surprise given that as state treasurer, according to the office's website, Stapleton is responsible for "investing Colorado's tax dollars" and "overseeing the unclaimed property division, which distributes property back to its lawful owners," among other things.
Next is a home on Sinclair Road in Snowmass Village. There's a current listing for a residence at the address in question on the Ranch Aspects real estate website, and among the photos on display is the one at the top of this post, showing a campaign sign for Ben Stapleton, Walker's great grandfather and a onetime member of the Ku Klux Klan who served as Denver's mayor for parts of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.
Documents show that the Sinclair Road property was purchased in 2007 by Snowmass Snowflake LLC, for which Stapleton served as manager. Interest charges were assessed for one- or two-month-late payments in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The respective amounts were $242.11, $127.11 and $49.21.
Another property snapped up by Snowmass Snowflake LLC can be found on Turkey Trot Court in Snowmass Village, and the limited liability corporation still owns it at present. A one-month-late property tax payment in 2011 netted an interest charge of $90.48, while two months of tardiness in 2013 required the ponying up of $479.41.
How much Stapleton had to do with these last oversights is unclear, since he purchased the property in conjunction with his Greenwich, Connecticut-based sister, Wendy Stapleton Reyes, who shares the vacation home with her husband, Diego Reyes, and their family.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
In 2015, the getaway received lots of attention as a result of a New York Times article headlined "Designing a Home With a Mountain in Mind," which described how the architect of the home conceived "a two-story triangular wedge that jutted out from the hillside — his creative solution to the property’s unusual set of constraints, which included a relatively small buildable area on a steep slope, with a height limit of 28 feet."
Less laudatory is an Aspen Daily News followup, which reveals the Walker Stapleton connection (he wasn't named in the Times offering) and notes that folks in the neighborhood refer to it as the "Jetsons House" because of its futuristic elements — and not all of them like it.
Jack Rafferty, who is described as having "operated a boot-fitting business on the Snowmass Mall for decades," called it "out of character" for the community and decried it as an "ostentatious show of wealth."
Despite the riches it took to realize what Diego Reyes characterized to the Times as "an absolute crown jewel," property taxes didn't always arrive on time. But presumably, the interest charges went to fund assorted governmental operations — so maybe it was Stapleton's way of keeping Colorado strong.