Governor candidate downplays $27,000 fine

About $27,000 in fines that gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes has agreed to pay for various campaign-finance violations are akin to paying parking tickets, the Republican told his supporters in an e-mail Friday.

In that e-mail, sent to Sheryl Fernandez, volunteer coordinator for the Dan Maes for Governor campaign, the Evergreen businessman said his opponents would manipulate facts and bend the truth with “blatant lies” as the Aug. 10 primary nears.

The e-mail, which Maes asked Fernandez to forward to his county chairs and grass-roots leaders, said, “Honest mistakes would be turned into alleged crimes,” and he asked them to “stand strong” behind his campaign as he deals with a complaint filed against him last month with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.

“This suit is timed to be publicized in conjunction with the primary vote,” Maes wrote in the e-mail. “It is our judgment to agree to the claims, which amount to parking tickets in the grand scheme of things. An example is as minor as not correctly listing the occupation of a donor correctly.”

Maes was responding to a complaint filed by Grand Junction resident Christopher Klitzke, who alleged the candidate violated campaign-finance laws when he reimbursed himself nearly $45,000 for mileage, accepted a contribution from a corporation and failed to note occupations for several donors.

Maes spoke Tuesday to other media outlets about the fines, but neither he nor members of his campaign staff returned numerous calls from The Daily Sentinel on Tuesday to respond to it. He said in the e-mail he would issue a formal statement soon.

Maes is seeking the GOP nomination against former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis.

In his response to the complaint filed Friday, Maes said he would not contest to any of the allegations, and he would accept paying fines for each.

Klitzke’s Grand Junction attorney, Erik Groves, said comparing the fines to parking tickets belies the seriousness of the matter.

“I think it questions his credibility in how serious he takes this,” Groves said. “On one side, he acts like he’s being the big man owning up to it, but on the other he downplays it. The fact remains: This is the largest campaign violation that I found in Colorado. That’s not a small matter.”

Groves said Maes called the complaint “frivolous” when he first spoke to him about it in June.

In the e-mail, Maes also said it was odd that a private citizen could sue without the secretary of state initiating action, but Groves said that office by law can’t initiate an investigation unless a complaint is filed.

The attorney also refuted reader comments posted on GJSentinel.com — they accompanied the Sentinel’s initial story about the fines Tuesday — that questioned whether Groves or his client were connected with the McInnis campaign. Groves said neither he nor his client is associated with the campaign.


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