Tipton’s campaign stop in Avon raises legal questions

A January stop in Eagle County has become an embarrassment for U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo.

Tipton’s meet-and-greet Jan. 7 was either an event outside his district, which is prohibited by House rules or a campaign event that was touted on his congressional website, also prohibited, Colorado Democrats say.

Tipton “concedes that there was a staff mistake and that the event shouldn’t have been publicized on the official website,” said Josh Green, Tipton’s Washington, D.C., spokesman.

Colorado Democratic Party spokesman Matt Inzeo said the question is: Exactly what kind of violation occurred?

“It’s either an event in violation of House rules or intended as a campaign-style event,” Inzeo said. “One way or the other, something improper happened here. We need to figure out which it was.”

There’s not much to figure out, Green said.

“It was an unofficial event,” Green said. “It was promoted as an ‘informal meet and greet,’ and that was it. (Tipton) stopped at a coffee shop in Avon on his way from Glenwood to Steamboat, spoke briefly and shook some hands.”

If the event was intended as a part of Tipton’s campaign, his staff was prohibited from having anything to do with it, Inzeo said.

“It’s curious that a press secretary would put out an advisory like this and not have someone staff it,” Inzeo said. “It strikes me as interesting, and I’ll leave it at that for now.”

Voters in Avon and the west end of Eagle County will cast ballots in the 3rd Congressional District election in November, but until the next session of Congress begins in 2013, that territory is part of the 2nd Congressional District.

Green said he was unaware whether an official complaint had been lodged. Neither he nor Inzeo said they know what the penalty, if any, would be.

After working for four years on Capitol Hill, “I can’t remember a member ever doing this,” Inzeo said.

Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ryan Call said the issue was overblown.

“With all the changes made to the congressional district boundaries, it’s understandable how minor mistakes like this can sometimes happen,” Call said. “No taxpayer funds were used to hold the event in Avon, and Congressman Tipton’s staff removed references to the event from the official website immediately upon being made aware of the inadvertent error made by staff.”


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Why is it that most legislators can spend entire careers without ever being investigated for ethics violations, yet those who go to Washington or to Denver to represent us always end up doing stupid things that end up in ethics violations? This is strike two on the ethics front for Tipton. We deserve better.

By the way, Peter, if it is outside of his existing district and just happens to be inside a district that he does not but is hoping to represent, there is no way it could be serving his constituents. By definition, that makes it a campaign event.

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