Campaign Finance Complaint Resolved

Golden’s campaign finance rules pretty clearly require that you must report any money you spend money attempting to influence a local election. If someone believes that the rules have been violated, they can file a complaint with the city. This kicks off a process that begins with a hearing by the Campaign Finance Board (three people appointed by Council). The board reviews the complaint, hears from the person who filed the complaint and the person who is charged with violating the rules, and tries to reach an amicable resolution. If they are unable to do so and they believe the rules have been violated, they forward the complaint to City Council and ask for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate and, if appropriate, prosecute the alleged violation.

You may recall that after the last election we saw the first complaint filed under these rules. Dave Ketchum, who served on the Council at the time, filed a complaint charging that Marion Olson had violated the campaign finance rules by failing to report expenses associated with publishing Voice of Golden (which had supported some candidates and opposed others). Ms. Olson failed to show up for the Campaign Finance Board hearing, and failed to show up when the board rescheduled and tried again, so the board recommended that Council hire a special prosecutor. We did, and the prosecutor concluded that Ms. Olson had indeed violated the campaign finance rules. After the court rejected Ms. Olson’s numerous motions for dismissal, Ms. Olson settled with the city, agreeing to file the required reporting of the expenses she incurred in publishing Voice of Golden prior to the November 2005 election.

The rules are intended to ensure that campaign fundraising and campaign spending are transparent. While there are no limits on how much a candidate or a candidate’s supporters can spend, these rules are meant to ensure that the community can see how much money a candidate raises, from whom, and how much money they and others spend to influence the election. If you support open and transparent government, it seems to me, you probably also ought to support open and transparent elections.


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