GOP candidates trade shots in dispute over campaign finance

An outspoken supporter of House District 54 candidate Ray Scott recently filed a complaint against Bob Hislop, the other candidate in their GOP primary. And that complaint, according to Hislop’s attorney, is completely baseless.

Grand Junction resident Kevin King, who has been operating an anti-Bob Hislop website for the past several months, attacking his candidate’s rival, has accused the Fruita resident of improperly accepting campaign contributions.

In his complaint filed with the Secretary of State’s Office this week, King said Hislop solicited and received campaign contributions through a website operated by the Association of Former Agents of the United States Secret Service and its foundation.

Hislop is a retired Secret Service agent and a one-time president of the association.

The complaint said an association member posted a message he received from Hislop seeking donations in his bid for the Colorado House, while another member sent an e-mail to all 2,500 members, asking them to donate to Hislop’s campaign.

King says that is illegal, but Hislop’s lawyer, Grand Junction attorney Erik Groves, said it isn’t.

“Hislop for 54 violated Colorado Constitution (Fair Campaign Contributions Act) ... by receiving corporate donations via the (association and foundation) website and not immediately returning the contributions,” King said in the complaint, which is being reviewed by an administrative law judge for the state.

King could not be reached for comment Thursday. His complaint is scheduled for a hearing July 28 in Denver.

Scott said he has been aware of the complaint for some time, but he has not seen it. Still, he questioned the legality of the donations.

Groves said King’s claim has no basis in law, adding the complaint seemed to be timed to coincide with ballots for the Aug. 10 primary arriving in people’s mailboxes this week.

“We’re going to expose this as being frivolous, groundless and vexatious,” Groves said. “When we get to trial, we’re not only going to prevail, we’re going to seek sanctions.”

Groves said the association never made any contributions to Hislop, and even if it did, those contributions would be legal because the group is a nonprofit association, not a corporation as King claims.

In his complaint, King said the association is a 501(c)(6) organization under IRS tax rules, which usually is reserved for such organizations as business groups and chambers of commerce. The foundation, meanwhile, is a 501(c)(3), which is used for religious, educational or charitable groups, and is barred from contributing to political candidates.

As a result, Hislop’s association is no different than the Colorado Association of Realtors, a 501(c)(6) group that has endorsed Scott and is expected to donate to his campaign, Groves said.

King said the posting on the Secret Service group’s website constituted a “nonmonetary contribution.” Groves, however, said it cost nothing to do that so there was no actual contribution.

Additionally, Groves said that even if it were illegal, it would be an issue between the association and the IRS, not Hislop. He also said the e-mails were sent more than seven months ago, and by law it is too late to complain about them.

“What we have is a whole bunch of, frankly, junk thrown together, really just beefed up for the purpose of trying to get some media exposure and trying to attack my candidate right before the primary,” Groves said. “It’s baseless, it is frivolous, it has no basis in law or in fact.


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