Sheriff race marked by deep pockets

Sen. Steve King


Sen. Steve King

John Pennington


John Pennington

Two candidates seeking the Republican nod for Mesa County sheriff almost matched one another in fundraising over a seven-month period, combined pulling in nearly $27,000.

John Pennington, a self-described Constitutional sheriff candidate, has pumped nearly $10,000 of his own money into the race, according to campaign finance reports filed this week with the Colorado Secretary of State.

Of $9,579 in contributions listed in a report covering the period of Oct. 28 through Tuesday, $6,232 of that was from Pennington himself, according to state records.

Pennington’s campaign on Wednesday filed notice of an additional $3,463 given by Pennington to his campaign, listing “mailers” and “mail out expenses” as expenditures.

Aside from the candidate himself, the top contributor was Grand Junction resident Arvid Mosnes, who paid $1,277 for yard signs for Pennington, records show.

Mosnes made headlines in 2010 when he paid for a billboard in Grand Junction that had caricatures of President Barack Obama as a terrorist, gangster, Mexican bandit and a gay man. The billboard was up for a month before being removed after alleged death threats.

Pennington spent heavily on radio advertising, $2,607 in May. In the days leading up to the March 29 Republican county assembly, Pennington lists $743 in airplane ticket and hotel expenses for “speaker.” Retired Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack, the founder of the Constitutional sheriffs movement, spoke in support of Pennington at the assembly.

All totaled, Pennington reported spending $9,107 as of Tuesday.

State Sen. Steve King, meanwhile, reported $13,855 in contributions and listed his top contributor as his mother, Carolyn King of Michigan, who gave $3,000 to her son’s campaign.

Among King’s backers are Mesa County’s law enforcement community, such as $100 from Mesa County Undersheriff Rebecca Spiess, $200 from Sheriff’s Sgt. Wayne Weyler, $250 from audit and compliance director Susan Redmond and $50 from Heather Benjamin, the agency’s public information officer. Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein also gave $200.

King received $1,500 from lobbyists and various other Front Range parties: $200 from the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Colorado political action committee; $200 from Melissa Kuipers of Greenwood Village with Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber and Schreck; $200 from Maureen Cain, a Denver attorney; $200 from Micki Hackenberger of Parker with Axiom Strategies Inc.; $200 from Anthony Lombard of Westminster with Clayton & Lombard Inc.; $200 from William Clayton of Littleton, also with Clayton & Lombard Inc.; $100 from Melissa Osse of Parker with Axiom Strategies; $100 from Erin Goff of Denver with Axiom Strategies and $100 from Peter Kirchhof of Aurora with Kirchhof Group Inc.

Among the larger contributors, King Ventures III LLC gave $1,000 to the campaign. The owners of King Ventures, Doug and Shane King, also own all of the Grand Valley McDonald’s locations.

They aren’t related to the candidate.

King’s campaign spent $9,111, of which $6,145 went to Rock Chalk Media LLC of Grand Junction, a radio and television advertising firm.

The campaign reported $4,743 in funds on hand as of Tuesday.

The primary election is June 24.

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