Maes’ mistakes are not ‘parking tickets’’

Don’t worry, Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes is telling voters. There’s nothing to see here in the $27,000 worth of fines Maes has agreed to pay for campaign-finance violations. Move along. Why, in the world of campaign finance, the violations aren’t any more serious than parking tickets.

Except they are.

Not only are the fines Maes agreed to pay among the highest ever assessed by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office for campaign violations, but the complaint that led to the fines includes substantial questions about Maes’ transferring of money from his campaign to his personal use.

Since Maes wants to be Colorado’s chief executive, he needs to take these claims seriously, not pooh-pooh them as petty offenses and dismiss them as political attacks by his opponents, which he did in an e-mail to his supporters and other Republicans late last week. The Daily Sentinel’s Charles Ashby broke the story about the violations and fines Tuesday.

Campaign finance law is complicated. It’s not unusual for a candidate to miss crossing a few T’s or dotting some I’s. However, repeated and serious transgressions are not the norm.

The most significant allegations in the complaint against Maes, filed by Grand Valley resident Christopher Klitzke, involved multiple violations of the rules under which a candidate may reimburse himself from his campaign treasury. Maes did not contest those claims, or any of the others Klitzke filed.

We’re not suggesting Maes intentionally skirted the rules on personal reimbursement.

However, as he seeks the state’s highest administrative office — in which he would oversee billions of dollars of public funds under extremely complex budgetary rules — voters have good reason to ask why he and his advisers have had so much trouble navigating campaign-finance law. And they might wonder whether, under a Gov. Maes, any future missteps overseeing taxpayer funds will be dismissed as little more than parking infractions.


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